Growing crops vertically to feed the growing Indian population

Agrihouse India Ltd set up the country’s first aeroponic laboratory at the University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad in 2016. Dr. Dickson Despommier, Father of Vertical Farming and professor emeritus Columbia University, says, “If we could engineer the vertical farming approach to food production, then no crops would ever fail due to severe weather events (floods, droughts, hurricanes, etc.).”

Currently, there are many vertical farms in the US, Europe, Japan and China, while some of the most robust ones are underway in the Middle East. Despommier says: “If vertical farming in urban centres becomes the norm, one anticipated long-term benefit would be the gradual repair of many of the world’s damaged ecosystems.”

Despommier, in his research article for Agrihouse India International Pvt Ltd, says that there is good reason to believe that a significant amount of energy to run a vertical farm can come from organic waste such as methane. He also states that vertical farms will be engineered to take in contaminated water and restore it to near-drinking water using bioremediation and other technologies yet to be fully developed.

The byproducts of burning methane ― CO2, heat and water ― can be added into the closed loop atmosphere of the vertical farm for fostering optimal plant growth. “Any water source that emerges from the vertical farm should be drinkable, thus completely recycling it back into the community that brought it to the farm to begin with.” 

Stoner has been the principal scientist for developing a high-performance aeroponic system for NASA for the orbital space shuttle and also earth. NASA endorsed that Stoner’s aeroponic system could reduce the use of water by 98 percent, fertilizer by 60 percent and pesticides by 100 percent. The system can be used for growing anything from leafy greens to strawberries and cucumbers to root crops. Stoner’s technology is widely used in commercial farms in the US, Canada, Vietnam and Europe.

Setting up of vertical farms in India will help mend damaged ecology, create food security and generate employment. Most importantly, it will save India’s farmers from resorting to extreme steps due to unpredictable climatic ravages. Let us all join in praying ‘Annadaata Sukhi Bhava’.

Read the complete article at Hindu Business Line

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