July 9, 2010 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
By 2050 more than 80% of the world’s population is expected to be living in urban areas. How will we feed them? Vertical farming offers a highly effective, sustainable, and cost-efficient solution. On a typical 7,000 sq ft. rooftop or abandoned urban lot, it’s possible to grow more food than a farmer can on a 24 acre farm. One greenhouse alone can yield 600 pounds of lettuce and at the same create green jobs, thereby boosting the local economy. Considering the average distance today from farm to table is 1500 miles, imagine the reduction in fuel costs alone, not to mention pollution.
Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. spoke with Talk Radio News to discuss the benefits of vertical farming, the agricultural system aimed at creating high-yield urban gardens. His cousin, Stephen Kennedy Smith, is a partner in Valcent Products, producers of VertiCrop, a high density vertical growth system designed to grow vegetables and other foods much more efficiently and with greater food value than in traditional agricultural field conditions.
• Produces approximately 20 times the normal production volume of field crops
• Requires only 5% of the normal water requirements for field crops
• Can be built on non arable lands and close to major city markets–resulting in lower fuel cost, smaller carbon footprint
• Can work in a variety of environments: urban, suburban, rural, desert, etc.
• Is organic: does not use herbicides or pesticides
• Can offer significant operating and capital cost savings over field agriculture
• Can drastically reduce transportation costs to market resulting in further savings, higher quality and fresher foods on delivery, and less transportation pollution
• Can be easily scaled for small to very large food production scenarios
The VertiCrop system grows plants in suspended trays connected to an overhead conveyor system. It’s designed to provide maximum sunlight and the precisely correct nutrients for each plant. Ultraviolet light and filters exclude the need for herbicides and pesticides. The sophisticated control systems maintain optimum growth performance through the correct misting of nutrients, accurate balancing of PH, and the delivery of the proper amount of heat, light and water.
Photos: Valcent. Video distributed by Tubemogul.