Is Vertical Farming Technology the Key to Smart Farming?
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
In an industry as heavy-based as agriculture, the implementation of smart farming saves time and effort. Vertical farming technology enables the integration of smart farming.
The fourth industrial revolution (IR4.0) brought massive innovations to almost every aspect of modern life. IR4.0 introduced game changing technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence and more. Each industry has been able to evolve and revolutionize the way things are done.
In this article, we take a look at how vertical farming technology supports smart farming through the Internet of Things (IoT).
How does vertical farming technology integrate with smart farming?
Vertical farming produces crops in vertically stacked layers. The farming system integrates with the aquaponics or hydroponics system to provide a soil-less-based growth ecosystem. It allows maximization of crop output in limited spaces.
Vertical farming technology provides a controlled and measurable environment for plant cultivation. It provides the means for the implementation of the Internet of Things (IoT) into the equipment.
Internet of Things is the connection of “many things: over the internet. They share data with one another through IoT applications, connected devices and machinery. Devices are built in with sensors to aid in data collection and sometimes, act on it.
In a vertical farming system, light, humidity, air flow, nutrient levels, pH and EC tracking are important to ensure healthy plant growth. An IoT system places built in sensors in the farming environment to measure these factors.
Data is then collected and sent to the farmer’s IoT application. The data is analysed and the factors are adjusted accordingly. This reduces the time farmers spend collecting data and the need to be physically present in the farm.
Types of vertical farming
Farming systems that are able to sustain a vertical farming system are;
Aquaponics Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Plants in this system does not require soil to grow and instead depend on nutrients produced by microbes from the system.
Interestingly, hydroponics means “working water” and does not need soil to grow plants. Hydroponics has also been successfully integrated into a space program under NASA.
Unlike traditional farming which uses a large plain of land, vertical farming is able to sustain an urban farm of up to 30 feet high. The flexibility of the system encourages installations in any urban space such as tall buildings, schools and warehouses.
If you’re looking to integrate a vertical farming system into your space, here’s a brief look at the advantages and limitations of vertical farms:
Vertical Farming Advantages
A vertical farming system provides the following benefits:
Crops are able to grow all year-around. Vertical farming is a viable alternative to meet future food demands as it increases food quality and yield. It ensures food security in urban areas that depend on agricultural products from rural areas.
Makes efficient use of vacant land and unused space. The ability for vertical farming to emulate outdoor weather conditions reduces the need for plants to be grown outdoors. This provides a stable environment for plants to grow in and the weather will not affect the crops
Decrease labor cost The cost of labor is reduced as farmers will not need to manually monitor the plants.
Limitations of Vertical Farming
However, with every system there are limitations and vertical farming:
Dependency on technology An indoor vertical farming technology emulates an artificial growth environment for plants. Should there be a malfunction in the equipment, it may risk the quality of the plant growth.
Cost of maintenance A vertical farm can easily consume energy depending on the size and structure of the vertical farm.
Want to know more about how to integrate a smart vertical farm in your space?
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