When you think of farming, it’s rolling green fields, wooden barns and tractors that most often spring to mind. But could all that be about to change? Find out in this fascinating new blog post from the Save My Exams Biology team…
The global human population has been growing exponentially for the last 150 years. As the number of people on our planet increases, more and more food is needed. As a result, a greater amount of land is required for farming. The clearing of natural habitats to make way for agricultural land is leading to the rapid loss of these habitats and the biodiversity they support (e.g. through deforestation).
It’s not all doom and gloom though! Humans are excellent at coming up with solutions to problems like these. A key part of this particular problem is that growing food crops takes up a LOT of space, 2D space that is. But what if we could farm in three dimensions…?!
The Jones Food Company vertical farm (based in Scunthorpe, UK) is the largest vertical farm in Europe.
Vertical farming is exactly what it sounds like: crops are grown in vertically stacked layers rather than on a single horizontal surface. Although the concept is simple, vertical farming is a relatively recent technological advancement in modern farming and is not widely used yet.
Most vertical farms currently in operation are housed within large warehouses, but one day they could be integrated into buildings such as skyscrapers! The abiotic conditions within these warehouses are carefully controlled to provide the stacked layers of crops with the optimum levels of carbon dioxide, temperature, light intensity and humidity they require for photosynthesis and growth.
Vertical farming uses hydroponics – a system in which plant roots grow in nutrient-enriched water, rather than in soil. The nutrient solution can be precisely controlled to ensure it contains everything the plant needs to grow, including the optimum amount of dissolved oxygen, as well as the correct minerals and trace elements required for growth. This, along with the ability to control CO₂ and light, ensures the maximum rate of photosynthesis in the crop plants.
An example of a simple hydroponics system.
Surprised by the future of farming? It’s time to go share those newly discovered facts with your friends! Or get in touch with us by messaging us on social media: @SaveMyExams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.