Vertical farming could feed the world

Urban farming could address the lack of agricultural land in cities around the world. One example of urban agriculture is vertical farming, which could offer a sustainable solution to improving food security because they require far less space and water than conventional farming.

By 2050, an estimated 109 hectares of new land (or 20 per cent more land than the size of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed the earth’s population, explains an article in Sustainable Cities Collective. A conference held last week at Nottingham University explored sustainable solutions to securing the global food supply in an increasingly urban population – a challenge that is made all the more difficult by climate change, pressure on natural resources, limited agricultural land and dwindling water resources.

One solution could be vertical farming. This sustainable method saves 70 per cent water and is already being used successfully around the world. Sky Greens vertical farm in Singapore, for instance, grows vegetables in towers that are up to nine metres tall and covers 3.65 hectares, reports the article. The vertical farm – which also uses less electricity and land – brings the tiny city-state that imports most of its food one step closer to becoming more self-sufficient.

According to Dickson Despommier, author of “The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century, vertical farming represents the future of agriculture: “Each indoor acre is more productive than 10 outdoor acres,” quotes the article. “If everyone grew 10 per cent of their food it would be equivalent to 340,000 square miles of hardwood forest.”

Dickson predicts that the vertical farming market will grow by 20 billion dollars by 2020.


Photo credit: 2010 Vincent Callebaut Architectures

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