There has been a lot of talks lately about our food supply chains being at risk during hard times. Inefficient food supply chains can become at risk of failing when they are stretched and strained.
What is the solution? We adapt.
When climate change considerations are also factored in it’s no wonder why there has been a growing emphasis on food production innovation so we can become more flexible when dealing with challenges.
One of those innovations being developed is vertical farming. Some are wondering if this will be the future of farming here in Ontario, while others are quick to point out the problem with vertical farming.
WHAT IS VERTICAL FARMING?
Vertical farming is the process of growing crops in an environmentally controlled indoor space using stacked shelves instead of outside in the ground.
HOW DOES VERTICAL FARMING WORK?
Most vertical farming is either hydroponic (where plants are grown in a bowl of nutrient-rich water) or aeroponics (where the roots of the plant are sprayed with a nutrient-infused water solution). Neither method requires the use of soil.
THE 5 BIGGEST ADVANTAGES OF VERTICAL FARMING
1. LESS SPACE REQUIRED
Stacking shelves vertically means less surface space required with the number of crops that can be grown. What takes 100 feet of ground space using traditional farming can now be done within a much smaller footprint.
2. MORE FLEXIBLE
Vertical farming can take place in almost any indoor space with proper power capabilities. Different growers are getting creative with commercial and residential buildings, shipping containers and even abandoned mine shafts.
3. ENVIRONMENT & RESOURCE FRIENDLY
The hydroponic process uses about 10% of the water that traditional farming does and that same water can be recycled and used repeatedly. Vertical farming does not need heavy farm equipment meaning less burning of fossil fuels.
4. NO PESTICIDES USED
When done correctly vertical farming often means that no chemicals or pest control sprays are needed to be applied to our food. The indoor space creates a natural physical barrier from invasive pests and fungal diseases struggle to grow when humidity levels can be managed.
5. RELIABLE FOOD SUPPLY
Currently, it’s not unusual for crops to be shipped across the province, country or in many cases the continent. This means a less reliable local food supply on top of the environmental impact it requires to ship. When food can be grown in a variety of different indoor spaces and when the outside weather does not have an impact, everyone can grow more of what’s needed closer to home.
HOW ARE VERTICAL FARMS DIFFERENT FROM GREENHOUSES?
Other than both happening indoors, there’s very little else similar between vertical farming and greenhouses.
Greenhouses use natural light and the plants are still grown on a single horizontal level using soil like they are outdoors. The main advantages of greenhouse farming vs. traditional outdoor farming are temperature control (making it warmer consistency for faster growth) and pest control (limiting the use of pesticides since there is a physical barrier between the plants and the outdoors).
Vertical farming on the other hand primarily uses artificial lighting and do not use soil (and yes, are vertical).
Growing crops outdoors are vulnerable to drought, wind, floods and other risk factors so nature has the upper hand. Vertical farming indoors gives farmers more control and the ability to grow crops year-round.
If you’re interested in learning more about the potential problems with vertical farming, click here.
Erie Mutual Insurance proudly serves the commercial insurance, farm insurance, home insurance and auto insurance needs of members throughout Southern Ontario including Haldimand, Niagara and Hamilton.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.