Vertical farms are the climate resilient solution for agriculture, says farming expert

Staff
By Staff
4 Min Read

Indoor farming takes out the eventuality that all your produce will be wiped out by a freak storm.

This is what Jack Farmer, Co-Founder of vertical farming company, LettUs Grow, told us in this week’s Net Hero Podcast.

Mr Farmer said: ‘If you are a grower in Morocco right now, you are going year on year through droughts, floods and all the extreme weather brought on by climate change.

‘That drives people undercover where agriculture is protected by polytunnels, a tunnel made from metals and covered with plastic. It helps protect your produce and it means that you can centrally irrigate.’

Jack Farmer told us that his company uses a technique called aeroponics which requires little-to-no soil to grow produce.

He said: ‘Aeroponics is a form of irrigation where you have water with the nutrient feed in it. And rather than spray that on top of the soil, we pipe that straight onto where the roots are sitting.

‘We use very little growing media and have the roots hanging down into an air gap and spray that water and nutrients onto the roots directly while the roots are in the air. Often it can make your roots healthier and this can improve your productivity.’

Although soil adds important nutrients to plants, Jack told us that aeroponic technology can mimic these mechanisms.

‘In terms of nutrition, that is very much controllable by the micronutrients you are putting in the water mixture.

‘You have to be mindful of the stress of the plant and make sure it is not taking up too much water and converting nutrients to sugar. So it is the same kind of agronomy that you have outside.

‘Of course, what you are doing outside is a bit more lower input. So the soil is an incredible buffer for the plant.

‘It lets you essentially put something in the ground and walk away, whereas you cannot do that with this indoor system. You have to be more involved.’

However, Mr Farmer told us that indoor farming does help reduce farming losses that are expected of conventional farming.

He said: ‘The farming industry is all about the yield and reducing losses. And that is why people go undercover and use polytunnels and vertical farming.

‘It is an upward curve in terms of yield, you are reducing loss with polytunnels, increasing yield a bit more with glasshouses and you are most productive with vertical farms.

‘You are, essentially, chasing higher and higher yields, which you just get by keeping your plants safer and happier.’

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