Understanding how to build a vertical farm starts with creating the perfect recipe of ingredients ranging from lighting to nutrients and the environment. In this article, we offer some practical tips on how to build a vertical farm.
Why are vertical farms becoming more popular?
Clearly, there is a need to grow more with less, and one of the biggest advantages of building a successful vertical farm is the ability to produce more in a smaller space.
By creating the optimum growing conditions, it’s a proven method of taking a crop from seed to harvest in less time, while obtaining a higher yield. In practical terms, that translates to 20 times more lettuce compared to agriculture fields with limited land area.
Interest in vertical farming is rapidly increasing, a trend driven by two main factors.
Firstly, with the global population set to mushroom to 10 billion by 2050, farmers will need to produce 70% more food, according to The World Government Summit Report.
The science behind building a vertical farm
Fortunately, this is exactly where Light Science Technologies can help. Working with customers in vertical farming, greenhouses, it offers expert advice and tailored solutions in lighting, science and technology products by looking carefully at your crop and identifying the right type of light, nutrients and other growing conditions for that crop.
Light Science Technologies collaborates with many universities and plant scientists across a wide range of crops from herbs, salad greens, leafy vegetables and root vegetables to high-carbohydrate protein foods. Its in-house laboratory has the latest technology, including controlled environmental growing chambers which are linked and able to transmit data continuously to keep you constantly updated with data about plant performance, quality, colour and taste.
The perfect recipe for building a successful vertical farm
The laboratory can also look in detail at disease prevention and plant architecture, for example making a plant shorter or taller, or for it to have more, or less, leaves. In fact, the Light Science Technologies lab is equipped with the same technology NASA uses to cultivate plants on the International Space Station, proving light recipes can give growers the ability to affect plants in ways that were not previously possible whether in space, or here on Earth.
“We’ll look at how the plant is growing in great detail and even better, our lab is so well-equipped, we can do this instantaneously,” explains John Matcham, Light Science Technologies’ technical director and a controlled environment agriculture (CEA) expert.
He points out that growing in a vertical farm is similar to working within an incubator. Cleanliness is paramount and with this type of farming there’s the ability to control almost everything such as filtering the water and air.
How to build a vertical farm – Sowing the seeds of success
“Although they might be sterile on the outside, with man-made protective coatings to keep out fungus and disease, the second a seed germinates, what’s inside it is in the perfect environment for growing,” he says.
Commercial viability starts with knowing your market
Location is also an important consideration, as vertical farms offer an opportunity to use existing and new spaces to grow food nearer to populations, cities and a power source.