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Mace & Crown | August 22, 2017

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The (Literal) Rise of Farming

The (Literal) Rise of Farming

Audra Reigle
Contributing Writer

Traditional farms are a lot of work. The farmer needs pesticides, lots of water and lots of tools to get any sort of product out of their farm. With the rise of technology, farms are also rising up with the changing times. Literally rising up.

Vertical farming involves placing plants on racks indoors, and the racks are placed on top of one another. The room’s conditions are optimized to help maximize the growth and the yield of the crop. With the farms being indoors, LED lights are used to provide artificial sunlight to the plants, and the plants don’t need pesticides. Less water is used as well.

A vertical farm in Chicago called FarmedHere is the largest in the United States, and they raise their plants using aquaponics. This technique involves growing plants without soil in water that is kept nutrient-rich by fish. Not only are plants harvested with aquaponics, but fish are harvested as well.

This method of farming also allows for environmentally-friendly farming. With vertical farming, food can be delivered much faster as it is locally grown. Less delivery trucks out on the streets cuts down on the amount of traffic on the streets and allows for cleaner air. The fruit and vegetables being delivered locally not only allows for faster delivery, but it also allows for fresher food, which is good for the health of the consumer. Vertical farms can be found all over the world, from Sweden to Panama.

Even Japan has their own vertical farm. This particular farm produces 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. The farm only opened in July 2014 and is about half the size of a football field. Farmers have the ability to control day and night cycles, and the room is climate controlled and powered by LED lights. These lights give them the power to control temperature, humidity and irrigation in the room to grow plants two and a half times faster than a traditional farm.

However, farming isn’t just all about the plants. Animals can be farmed too. Precision agriculture, or smart farming, involves using sensing technology to create more connected and more intelligent farms. Information is already being collected about animal health, fertilizer applications and crop yields, but these sensors allow for farmers to know when their animals are capable of reproduction or whether or not they have health issues sooner rather than later. Breeders can even receive text messages about predetermined events, like if an animal is ready to reproduce.

The hope is that indoor farms like these could resolve food shortages around the world. Electric companies, such as General Electrics and Philips, are also partnering with farms to trial this new method of farming.

The future of farming even wants to expand to the desert. Plans are being made to build greenhouses in the Sahara Desert. This allows them to take advantage of land that won’t be used for anything else, and it also allows them to use renewable energy. Less developed countries will also have easier access to food that will be affordable to them as they’ll be able to lower the prices of the crops grown. Plants could even be grown on the roofs or sides of buildings in the future. All of this will help make food more easily accessible to people while also lowering the cost.