Establishing a vertical farm at home can supply fresh vegetables to your family all year. With a bit of imagination, you could even convert vertical farming into a profitable enterprise. Vertical farming is done in any space.
They call it the living Green Wall! It’s stacked layers of planted veggies and herbs. It could be a wall, racks, shelves, or towers used to stack upwards to grow edibles vertically at home. You can start by planting a few lettuces on one level, some carrots above on the next level, then, say, some beetroot above them. Perhaps you planted some potatoes on the ground level beneath the lettuce. That’s only four levels, and you can grow much higher.
Starting a vertical farm at home can, with a bit of ingenuity, even turn vertical farming at home into a profitable business. It is indoor farming using a system of racks, towers, or shelves to stack plants vertically.
This method is implemented inside a controlled environment without soil or natural light.
Here we’re discussing a guide to vertical farming at home, where you grow plants in vertical layers by stacking the foodstuffs upwards to save space.
We hear that vertical farms at home are being started in attics, basements or spare rooms. What exactly are vertical farms? Are they vertically stacked indoor farms employing a system of racks, towers, or shelves?
Home vertical farming is being heralded as the next great thing to make homes more self-sufficient and feed the world in the twenty-first century. Not everyone is endowed with a vast garden that grows everything and anything you want.
But do not let a lack of gardening space deter you. In-home vertical farming is a viable option as well as a rewarding experience.
Of course, there are many things to think about before starting a vertical farm at home. The prices are one issue, and what type of care do they need.
To learn more about vertical farming, including its advantages, financial costs, and the sorts of plants that can be grown, please continue reading.
Benefits of Vertical Farming
Is vertical farming worth the effort and expense, or is it just a fad? Why would you modify your gardening habits and spend money on expensive equipment to produce tomatoes and cucumbers together?
Vertical farms, it turns out, are about more than just growing more crops.
Firstly, know why – are you bringing food to urban areas or is it for you? Choose your crops.
If you’re doing it commercially, get a good business plan. Decide on the technology you’ll use. Develop a marketing strategy and find some good customers. Try to see other farmers as allies and not enemies. In a revolutionary type of farming that still has wrinkles, you need problem-solving partners – not rivals who’ll create headaches. Location is important. Secure funding. Abide by the rules and regulations and achieve your goals.
The most evident advantage of vertical farming is that the stacked layers take up little room and provide you with more crops.
In this day and age, when few people have the luxury of having a garden linked to their home, anyone can begin gardening whether or not they have one.
Consumption of Water is Reduced
As you may be aware, getting the proper amount of water to the roots of your garden plants is a difficult task. More water is wasted as a result of the hot weather and ineffective irrigation practices.
Water is recycled, and every drop of water is used efficiently in vertical farming, resulting in minimal water waste.
You will be able to cultivate more crops at once and boost your food production, as you might imagine. However, there is no need to choose between crops to fit your limited gardening space.
You will obtain a higher yield from your plants if you use efficient food and watering practices.
Environment Can Be Controlled
Vertical gardening allows you more control over the growing circumstances of the plants than an exposed garden blasted by variable temperatures, sunlight, and frost.
This increases the likelihood of the plants succeeding and lowers crop loss due to illnesses, hard weather, and persistent pests.
Increased Production of Food
It is ideal for generating more plants faster because it saves space and is in a controlled environment. By stacking plants to make use of unused space, you will be able to create far more than you anticipated.
Controlling the atmosphere also means that your plants will be ready to eat in no time. This brings up a hot topic in the realm of vertical farming: the world hunger crisis.
Environmentally and Human-friendly
By using indoor vertical farming, the occupational dangers of traditional farming can be considerably reduced.
This is partly because farmers are not exposed to risks associated with heavy farming equipment, such as infections like malaria, harmful chemicals, and other such issues.
It is also beneficial to biodiversity because it does not disrupt animals or trees in inland areas.
Limitations of Vertical Farming
Vertical farming offers both advantages and disadvantages. The benefits of vertical farming are sometimes exaggerated, while the disadvantages are overlooked.
The following are some of vertical farming’s primary drawbacks:
No Established Economics
The economic viability of this new agricultural strategy is still unknown. However, as the sector evolves and technology improves, the financial picture is shifting.
Bowery, an indoor-farming firm based in New Jersey, reported in December 2018 that it had raised $90 million in new capital. Plenty, a vertical grower on the West Coast, received a $200 million investment from Softbank in 2017.
Problems with Pollination
Vertical farming is carried out in a controlled atmosphere free of insects. As a result, pollination will have to be done manually, which will be time-consuming and costly.
Costs of Labor
Vertical farming has significant energy costs. Labor expenses can be much higher because of their concentration in metropolitan areas, where wages are higher and more specialized labor is required.
Vertical farms, on the other hand, may require less personnel as a result of automation. In vertical farms, manual pollination may become one of the more labor-intensive operations.
Excessive Reliance on Technology
The advancement of new technology can continuously improve efficiency and reduce expenses. However, the entire vertical farming system relies on numerous lighting, temperature control, and humidity management technologies.
For a vertical farm, losing power for even a single day may be highly costly. Many people believe that today’s technologies aren’t ready for widespread adoption.
Vertical Farming Costs
It would be best to ask how much it will cost to build your vertical farm at home.
Vertical farming, unlike traditional gardening, requires more sophisticated equipment than a trawl and a few seeds. There are also ongoing fees to think about.
Let us take a closer look at these two categories of expenses.
1. Equipment Cost
Stackable shelves, a watering system, temperature control, artificial light system, and growth media were among the items required to create an in-home vertical farm.
There are various methods on the market, ranging from the most basic, which costs approximately $50, to the most advanced, which costs over $600.
This is a one-time payment, and once you have the appropriate equipment, you may begin growing immediately and throughout the year.
2. Running Costs
The ongoing expenditures are now dependent on the original setup you chose. Other solutions, usually on the lower end of the scale, have no continuing operating expenses other than the water and fertilizer your plants require.
You will have to pay for water and lighting systems in addition to the standard seeds and fertilizer charges. The higher the operating costs of your vertical farm equipment, the more advanced it is.
Firstly, the increasing cost will be related to the electricity bill. However, you will save money on your green grocery shopping in the long term.
There are rain barrels, such as this one created by the Garden Tower Project team, that can help you save money while also providing better water for your plants.
However, if you choose a completely automated system, you will have to pay for electricity 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
On the other hand, it will be far less expensive in the long term to produce lots of really nutritious vegetables – as opposed to purchasing them from your local supermarket.
Vertical Farms Considerations
Vertical farming has been transformed by the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) technology. This technology is primarily concerned with how water and light are used to help plants grow and produce more.
The Physical Setup
The goal of indoor farming is to produce as much as possible. This is accomplished by increasing production efficiency per square meter, which is how the vertical tower construction was born.
When developing tiers of plants, their light requirements will differ from, say, plants growing in the sun.
Because of the levels’ design, some plants will receive little light, while those at the top will receive more than they require. This is when CEA technology comes in handy.
Every tier will be equipped with a lighting system that regulates the amount of light available to the plants. Depending on the plants you cultivate at each level, you can adjust the lighting.
That implies you can lower light exposure for plants in tiers 1 and 2 but increase it for those in tiers 5 and 8 while keeping the remainder of the tiers at their typical levels.
Using Natural Light
Vertical farms are designed to allow natural light to reach your plants, rather than relying solely on artificial lighting for growth.
The most critical part of building a successful indoor farming setting is artificial lighting. It is a decision that might make or destroy your indoor farm.
As a result, it is critical that you devote sufficient time to planning and creating the layout of your plants and lights. The format should be optimized to ensure that no light is wasted.
A grow light is an artificial light source, most frequently an electric light, that is designed to promote plant development by providing an electromagnetic spectrum that is ideal for photosynthesis. It allows you to cultivate veggies and fruits year-round indoors.
When it comes to water systems, CEA technology pays special attention and offers a wide range of alternatives. Vertical farming is all about water efficiency because water is wasted when you irrigate your garden plants. Here are a few possibilities for irrigation.
Vertical farming comes in three main models.
Fish and plants are both grown in this irrigation system. The fish and the plants form a symbiotic relationship as a result of this.
The vegetables filter the water and absorb contaminants while the fish fertilize the water to feed the plants.
Only plants that can grow in water are suited for this arrangement.
Another expensive device that directly targets the roots of the plants. The method consisted of linking narrow pipes beneath the roots of each tier’s plants.
The pipes will spray the roots to feed and nourish them with a mixture of water and fertilizer. This technique saves a significant amount of water and fertilizer, making it a long-term, cost-effective alternative.
This system is similar to aquaponics in that the plants are permanently submerged in a pool of water.
Instead of having fish swimming about, the water is loaded with nutrients and circulated regularly.
This keeps the water from becoming stagnant, allowing germs and algae to grow.
The system is simple to set up and is less expensive than the other two options.
Of course, you can forego any irrigation equipment and water the plants manually.
Start watering the plants on the top tier with a full watering can. The extra water filters down to the bottom layers, watering all of the plants.
This strategy, as simple as it appears, saves water and prevents water waste.
Temperature & Humidity Control
The most important aspect of vertical farming is determining how much cooling, dehumidification, and heating are required to maintain the grow space’s temperature and humidity.
Dehumidification is also required to remove moisture from the plants and the irrigation system delivered to the air by evapotranspiration.
Ideal Vertical Farming Plants
Vertical farming may appear to be a perfect solution for people with little gardening space, but it is not suitable for all plants. You cannot just cultivate any vegetable or perennial flower.
Trees and plants, of course, are not allowed. Certain food plants can only be grown vertically due to space and growing medium constraints, among other factors.
Vegetables of all kinds, however, are good candidates for vertical cultivation. When it comes to vertical gardens at home, whether the plant is acceptable for indoor or outdoor growing is irrelevant.
To mention a few, you can grow tomatoes, bell peppers, lettuce, and broccoli.
Succulents are another type of plant that can be grown vertically. You can nearly cultivate any plant you want with your superior equipment.
Woody herbs, mints, chives, kale, collard greens, and basil are some of the other plants you can grow. Particularly those plants that prefer higher humidity levels or are lighter than the average plant.
You can grow practically anything with the correct hydroponic, aeroponic, or aquaponic farm setup.
When choosing the ideal crops for your vertical farm, keep the following factors in mind.
Study the economics of the species you have chosen for your indoor farm, particularly if you are raising for profit.
What is the market for this crop in your neighborhood or in the market you’ve chosen to serve? You can determine that your project will benefit both your family and the local community.
Though vertical farming technologies have reduced overheads on average, your short and long-term production expenses are determined by the size and type of system you utilize. You will want to keep these numbers to a bare minimum.
Climate requirements (heating, cooling, and lighting) vary for each system. Therefore, another sectioned-off space may be required.
Consider whether you have the necessary funds for the room and operations for your chosen system design.
As a grower, maintaining a balance between these variables guarantees that your indoor farm produces maximum production and value.
Timing and Liability
Patience is a crucial component of indoor agriculture because all good things take time. This truth is encapsulated in the concept of farming as a ‘turn.’
A turn is the length of time it takes to put a seed or seedling into the farm system, grow it, then harvest it as a mature plant ready to eat.
Fast turn crops and slow turn crops are the two types of crops you can plant. You can choose one or both for your vertical farm, depending on your growing purpose, wants, and requirements.
Lettuce, cabbage, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, basil, and different microgreens are all fast-turning crops. It can take up to six weeks to make them.
Slow-turn crops are more challenging to raise than leafy greens, but they offer a more significant profit margin. This includes ‘woody’ herbs such as oregano and rosemary, as well as fruiting plants such as strawberries and tomatoes.
Planting 80 percent greens and 20 percent herbs is a decent rule of thumb for a newbie gardener.
The Environment and Vertical Farms
Freshwater is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. As a result, every time you save water and reduce water waste, you are assisting in preserving the environment.
Consider a vegetable like lettuce to put this into perspective. If you grow it in a field using standard farming methods, you’ll need 259 liters more water than if you employ water-conserving vertical farming methods.
As the world’s population rises, traditional methods of food production will eventually become unsustainable.
As a result, all eyes are on vertical farming to deliver more harvests annually while reducing the load on farms and arable land throughout the world.
As we can see, there are many considerations in vertical farming at home that need to be met. Everyone can be a vertical farmer if they keep the above suggestions in mind and use the right goods.
You don’t need a balcony or a lot of water to start your vertical farm at home.
You may install it wherever you want and get excellent results in only a few weeks. The best part is that you always know what is in it because it is under your control!