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Vertical Farms: why, how and where

The Vertical Farms are revolutionizing the agriculture since they offer great urban centers:

  • a large supply of fresh vegetables with a low environmental impact
  • a supply zero km with road traffic savings and Pollution
  • an organic product
  • an alternative to the intensive exploitation of the land.

How do they work?

Designed to supply the cities, where it is estimated that by 2050 will live 70% of the world population, the Vertical Farms develop greenhouses on several floors.

These, according to the adopted method of cultivation, can be:

  • hydroponic
  • aeroponic
  • acquaponiche

Common feature: the use of advanced technology that automates several processes, such as irrigation and fertilization, aiming action actual needs. This is possible thanks to the use of wireless sensors capable of detecting micro-climatic conditions of the greenhouse and the plant physiological ones. The values detected by the wireless sensors can then trigger automatic actions (for example, adjust the amount of mineral substances) for the benefit of the intervention accuracy and reducing waste.

The use of LED lamps with low energy consumption guarantee the necessary light in a constant way to stimulate photosynthesis and thus the growth of plants.

The soul “green” also emerges from other structural and functional choices that can be:

  • the adoption of solar panels to power the heating / cooling system;
  • the circular shape to allow a better irradiation;
  • outer coating of titanium oxide capable of catalyzing the oxidation of pollutants;
  • collection of rainwater to be used for irrigation;
  • purification and use of waste water.

All this helps to achieve maximum yield, in a ratio, according to the estimate of some manufacturers of Vertical Farm,
1.8 acre greenhouse vertical = 16 acres of tradizional cultivation.

Hydroponic greenhouses

The vegetable grows in the absence of soil. In replacement they are used: clay, vermiculite, perlite, clay, coconut fiber or rock wool.
A controlled fertigation system (water vapor and mineral substances) feeds the plant without wasting fertilizer.

Advantages:

  • estimated savings of 70% water;
  • vegetative growth twice as fast of a plant in a traditional cultivation.

idroponica

Aeroponic greenhouses

Soilless cultivation. The roots are directly sprayed with water mist and minerals.

Advantages:

  • maximum savings of water
  • + 30% growth in half the time

newark

Aquaponic greenhouses

Fish breeding + hydroponic greenhouse for vegetable cultivation: this is the mix to build a aquaponics greenhouse. The waste water, rich in nutrients for the plants, is used for irrigation in greenhouses. The natural fertilizer is retained and absorbed by the plant, purifying the water that returns to the breeding in a virtuous circle of sustainability.

aquaponics

Advantages

  • it saves water,
  • + 30-50% growth compared to traditional cultivation.

In search of Vertical Farms

In Newark it is building an aeroponic Vertical Farm of over 20000 square meters. Objective: To obtain 22 harvests per year, reaching a production of over 2 million kg of vegetables (+ 75% compared to a traditional crop).

Canada is planning the construction of urban greenhouses and aeroponic vertical  farm type, using buildings, warehouses and containers.

In Philadelphia, it is already operating a hydroponic greenhouse on the second floor of a building where, in only 10 square meters, about 120,000 seedlings of tomatoes, lettuce and herbs grow. The water saving is around 98%, the energy saving is about 82%.

In Japan, there are various projects in the pipeline, including that of a hydroponic greenhouse in Kizugawa near Kyoto. It will consist in the technological update of a greenhouse already functioning and in his enlargement. The introduction of robots to automate processes (including the stage of the crop) will allow to reduce the cost of staff and the power consumption, and to recycle about 98% water. The greenhouse will occupy 4800 square meters and aims to produce 80,000 heads of lettuce a day. A number expected to grow since its stated goal is to achieve 500,000 heads of lettuce a day in five years.

A Vertical Farm based on acquaponic system is instead planned in Louisville: 10 floors for over 18,000 square meters.





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