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Vertical farming helps to strengthen food security and address climate change

How vertical farming helps to improve the current agricultural system, positively influencing both food and environmental issues that need to be solved rapidly.

The global food production industry desperately needs a solution to overcome the overpopulation challenges and poor overproduction distribution. The challenges facing the world today, including conflicts, humanitarian emergencies, the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, greatly affect agri-food systems, pushing between 83 and 132 million people into chronic hunger by 2020.

According to the 2030 Agenda targets set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), global progress in ending poverty, hunger and responding to climate change remains insufficient in the area of food and agriculture.

At the same time, in some countries, the percentage of food that is lost after harvesting , transport, storage and processing stages amounts to 13.8 per cent globally, amounting to more than $400 billion per year.

A solution to this situation is vertical farming, which grows crops in vertically stacked concentric frames. This method produces more quantity of food per square metre in areas close to large populations compared to conventional farming, which means that vertical farming offers a solution to many of our food distribution problems. Also, crops can be more thoroughly controlled without relying on external weather conditions, thus exponentially reducing the losses incurred in traditional farming. In this blog post, we will explore the advantages of vertical farming compared to conventional farming and how it can shape the future of our food industry.

The advantages of vertical farming in the agricultural system

Today, attention is increasingly turning to vertical farming, especially with the eminent growth of urban populations, and as cities grow, so does the need to create more space for food supply. What if, instead of farming outwards, we could farm upwards? That is the idea behind vertical farming.

This cultivation method emphasises the efficient use of vertical space, allowing for higher crop yields with minimal use of resources and more thorough control of production and distribution by locating close to large populations.

It also allows for efficient use of water, as it is not unnecessarily lost through evaporation or runoff.

Furthermore, in vertical farming systems such as Groots, no pesticides or other chemical inputs are used, and they are generally considered more environmentally friendly than most traditional crops.

In general, the advantages of vertical farming make this form of farming an increasingly attractive option especially for supplying close to cities.

Main differences between traditional and vertical agriculture

One of the main differences between vertical farming and traditional farming is the optimisation of space. Traditionally, farmers tend to use large tracts of land to grow crops. In comparison, vertical farming makes more efficient use of space by using advanced spatial technologies such as hydroponics and aeroponics to maximise the yield per square metre of food grown. In this way, efficiency is gained, production is increased and costs are significantly reduced thanks to the yield of these crops.

In addition, it results in a considerable increase in harvest during the year, without depending on weather conditions or pests that are only found in outdoor cultivation. Therefore, less risky crops, if one crop fails, it only takes weeks instead of months to obtain the next harvest. Also, the quality of certain plants increases, e.g. basil concentrates more essential oils in vertical farming, intensifying its flavour.

Vertical farming systems have a positive impact on the environment as they are designed with the aim of reducing waste and minimising the waste of harvest and natural resources such as water, which can be reduced by up to 95%. This can be difficult for traditional systems that rely on intensive use of resources and where crop production cannot be monitored as closely, leading to overproduction, often at a loss. Furthermore, as we have already mentioned, it is a type of crop that does not require pesticides or chemical fertilisers. This adds value to the care of the environment and to the care of society through the supply of healthy products.

Groots' vision goes beyond supplying healthy products to the society, we also contribute positively to society by generating social impact through employment and training for people at risk of social exclusion and by developing educational initiatives that stimulate change.

What is hydroponics and aeroponics?

In comparison to the traditional method of cultivation, hydroponics and aeroponics are two methods belonging to sustainable agriculture that offer advantages such as the prevention of soil degradation caused by agricultural exploitation or the non-promotion of pesticide and chemical fertiliser use.

Both systems are characterised by the fact that they do not grow in soil. While hydroponics uses water as the only means for growing plants, aeroponics uses a combination of water and oxygen. At Groots we use hydroponics, which through the application of the best nutrients in water, we achieve optimal growth for our plants.

In short, hydroponics and aeroponics offer sustainable alternatives to traditional agricultural methods that help reduce costs and improve life quality.

What plants can be grown on a vertical farm?

The automation of a plant's optimal conditions and the capacity of the farm are decisive when choosing which plants to grow. It is also important to assess the yield of the crop by taking into account the space it occupies and the time needed for harvesting. For example, while basil grows fast, rosemary and oregano have a longer gemination process.

As vertical farming is still in its infancy, vertical farms are turning to a quick-harvest crop such as coriander or lettuce in order to obtain short-term yields.

At Groots we grow herbs such as lamb's lettuce, lettuce, pak choi and kale. We are also passionate about aromatic plants and that is why we grow a wide variety of herbs such as thyme, basil, coriander, rosemary and chives.

In order to be able to offer more varieties of plants, we hope to start experimenting with the cultivation of berries, strawberries, tomatoes and other green leafy vegetables in the not too distant future, in order to be able to offer a wider variety of seedlings.

The future of growing skywards

The future of vertical farming is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious and socially committed. It is hoped that it can help to combat food poverty and at the same time combat issues such as climate change.

A gain in economic importance is also expected. It is fast becoming an important part of the agricultural industry, helping to address challenges such as the maldistribution of overproduction of food, reducing environmental impact and reducing production costs. It is a system in which high yields can be obtained in a short time without the need for exhaustive use of resources. Thus contributing to the development of a greener and at the same time profitable economy.

Although much work remains to be done, the food industry is making progress in its efforts to minimise its impact on the natural world and to ensure that problems such as food waste from overproduction are addressed.

Therefore, the future of vertical farming is quite promising and it is expected that more innovative practices and technologies will be developed in this field.


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