Vertical Farming

Vertical farming (a.k.a Skyfarming) is a form of agriculture in urban high rises. Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, is the leading advocate for vertical farming. A vertical farm is a large tower with multiple levels that contain crops and high-tech agricultural equipment.

Vertical farms are tightly controlled environments, and these farms would be used to grow fruits, vegetables, grains, and even maintain fish, poultry, and pigs. Vertical farming would allow cities to become self-sufficient, and Despommier estimates that these farms would produce enough food to feed 50,000 people annually. The vertical farm doesn’t just grow crops indoors; it also generates its own power from waste and cleans up sewage water.

Advantages of vertical farming:

  • Year round crop production
  • High crop yield
  • They generate power from waste
  • Use alternative energy sources (e.g. solar and wind)
  • They clean up sewage water (these farms would filter the city’s waste water and give the water to the crops)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • Don’t have to cut down trees to make room for more agricultural land
  • Don’t have to transport food from distant farms (this reduces pollution)
  • No need for herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers

Despommier estimates that a vertical farm could be built for less than $84 million. There are no concrete plans to construct any vertical farms in the near future, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the oil tycoons of Dubai construct “Skyfarms.”

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  1. finnegan

    Sounds interesting. Cities like NYC and Tokyo could use these, but may be deemed “not profitable enough” to be built in the city. I wonder what sort of profit they could/would turn.




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