Vertical farming: Achieve agricultural productivity increase nearly 400 times, the model of agricultural sustainable development!


2023-02-18 11:20

According to UN projections, the world population will reach 9.6 billion by 2050, and a 50% increase in food supply is required to feed all human beings. However, the facts in front of us are this: arable land is shrinking rapidly, water pollution is serious and global climate is warming... In the future, to feed such a large population, we may need a new model of food production, vertical farms that grow food and vegetables in skyscrapers.

Imagine a scenario in a downtown skyscraper where every room full of LED lights grows tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons and more. Sounds like a sci-fi movie, right? In fact, this is vertical farm, which provides unlimited imagination to solve the problem of feeding 9.6 billion people in the future.

 David Rosenberg, co-founder and CEO of AeroFarms, a global leader in indoor vertical farming and sustainable farming, said:

"The UN estimates that we need 50 percent more food by 2050, and we've lost 30 percent of our arable land in the past 40 years." "Looking at all these macro issues, a new way to feed our planet," Rosenberg said.

The grain yield is increased by 390 times, but the water consumption is 95% less than that of ordinary planting. No sunlight, no soil, no pesticides are used, and no agricultural pollution is caused. It is the only way for a new generation of farming mode and sustainable human development -- vertical farm.Now let's introduce some famous vertical farms around the world.

AeroFarms operates year-round farming locally, subventing the traditional growing season. Monitoring all stages of green leafy vegetables and herbs production, from seed to packaging, sets new standards for product tracking. And, most strikingly, AeroFarms are 390 times more productive each year than commercial farms, but uses 95 percent less water than regular crops cultivation.

AeroFarms, known as the world's largest "vertical farm", is located in New Jersey, USA. In a space of 7,000 square meters, it uses patented planting methods such as aerial cultivation to allow vegetables to be harvested every 16 days, reaching about 90% a year. 10,000 kilograms of total production - an astonishing feat.

 From a productivity perspective, vertical farming could be the future of farming, as it will save 95% of water usage compared to growing crops in normal fields.

At AeroFarms, plants grow in trays stacked on top of vertical pillars that are 36 feet tall (1 foot ≈ 0.3048 meters). The tray is lined with a patented cloth, called a culture medium, on which the seeds germinate and grow without soil, pesticides or wasted nutrients.

The roots hang directly indoors to absorb the desired nutrients, beneath a cloth impregnated with medium. They can also get ideal LED lighting spectra to meet the needs of plants during their 12 - to 16-day growth cycle. Precise plant growth algorithms allow AeroFarms to supply partners who sell its products in a timely manner throughout the year.

When the plants are mature, they are collected directly on site, packaged and distributed to local grocery stores. Close links between agricultural operations and the end consumer have greatly reduced transportation costs and plant decay rates.

In addition, for traditional agriculture, plants grown indoors on vertical farms are protected from food shortages caused by bad weather and natural disasters that reduce crop yields. So vertical farm makes a lot of sense, especially in places with harsh climates, like the Middle East.

In Japan, where land and labor are scarce, urban maps of vertical farms are being built.

Spread, an agricultural company with roots in sustainability, has built two factories in Kyoto that look like "shipping containers". One of them, The Techno Farm in Keihanna Science City, is described as one of the most automated vertical farms in the world.

▲ The new facility, Techno Farm, will more than double Spread's crop yield, producing nearly 11 million lettuces a year.


In terms of appearance, we might not associate it with a "vertical farm" until inside the "factory", the vertical aspect is revealed.

Stacked on top of trays, the robot arm is planting lettuce with new sprouts. White or fuchsia LED lights, bright all night. These timely and change of "light", can be 24 hours without interruption to assist a batch of crops to complete the "photosynthesis".

Compared to previous farms, the "AI farm" relies almost entirely on robotic arms for irrigation and harvesting. 

When most of the vertical farms in the world are still piling up "shelves" to grow vegetables, the vertical farm in the basement of a Michelin restaurant in Manhattan has become "the backyard of the cooks".

FarmOne is called "provide 'special ingredients' for chefs across New York". In the basement of 140 square meters, more than 500 recycled coconut shells are grown with basil flowers, lemongrass and other spice plants.

▲ Chef from elsewhere is picking vegetables in the "back garden


From growth to maturity, the wavelength, quality and color of the light required for each step are accurately and specifically recorded. And the "more energy-efficient" hydroponic technology reduces water consumption by 10% of that of traditional farms.

Previously the delivery processes of special ingredients are extremely cumbersome. Chefs need to order ingredients from California, Mexico and even Israel to New York by air, which will result in a certain waste of packaging materials such as plastic, foam, cardboard boxes, etc.

Today, FarmOne plants in batches on the farm according to the requirements of the chefs, from the leaf size to the growth date (freshness) of crops, which means that more fresh and various vegetables will appear on people's table at the same time. 

As a "garden city" with 50% green space, only 7% of Singapore's crops are produced in the local. Under the background that most vegetables need to be imported, the process pressure from the growing population has made many people think about new ways for local agricultural development, such as vertical farms.

▲Green roofs, large areas of external shading, and vertical green buildings that can be found everywhere in Singapore which are nothing new.


Sky greens is one of the best. The difference from other "vertical farms" is that it pays more attention to low-carbon emission reduction and the nature of crop growth.

Through a planting system called "a-go-gro", it rotates the "vegetable tower" that is planting cabbage, kale and other crops from bottom to top at a speed of 1 mm per second to ensure that the tower is on the Plants in each layer receive even light.

 ▲ On average, one rotation cycle is completed every 8 hours.


As a paragon of energy saving and emission reduction, the operation of this system is entirely completed by a water gravity system: the system automatically collects rainwater to provide power for the rotation, and at the same time, the filtered water will enter the irrigation system again.

However the ultimate goal of sky green is to bring more vertical farms to city rooftops. Every household can have its own "vegetable tower" to be self-sufficient. 

As we all know, domestic food products are fresher than imported foot products, but due to the harsh desert climate in Dubai, it is difficult to enjoy fresh food products in local.

Badia Farms, which is located in the Middle East, is a rising star in this "vertical movement". They have begun to build the Middle East Gulf countries and are also the first vertical farm under the GCC. This means that in the "desert" with barren agriculture, an oasis near the water is built.

Now Badia Farms has been operational, they are now focusing on more sustainable, organic food and supplying Dubai's top restaurants, caterers and chefs with green ingredients, as well as herbs.

In the future, the innovation of the model will be the way out for Chinese agriculture. Only by continuously improving the agricultural premium capacity and increasing the added value of products can Chinese agriculture go further.

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