Whether vertical farming is right for your business depends on a variety of factors, including the type of crops you want to grow, the size of your operation, and your business goals. In general, whenever a farmer or large-scale grower decides to invest in vertical farming, it's important to consider these three points;
- If you can't grow excellent quality produce—don't plant the seed;
- If you can't get the economics right and make money—don't plant the seed;
- If you're going to harm the environment in the process—don't plant the seed.
These are the three Es of vertical farming success – excellent, economics, and environment.
There may be some other considerations you might want to take into account when considering if vertically farming crops is right for your business.
Consider the crops you want to grow. If you plan to grow seed-to-harvest crops that require relatively little space and have a short growing cycle, such as leafy greens or herbs, then vertical farming is the perfect fit for your business. If you plan to grow starter plants or propagules in vertical farming, then it can be used to in-house this part of your growing system, removing the need for imports and cold storage.
Vertical farming may be an excellent alternative if you want to extend your crop production cycle or diversify the crops you currently grow, helping you to increase your revenue. IGS can help you build a business case for investing in a vertical farm.
Leafy greens are one of the most commonly grown crops by vertical farmers, as they require relatively little space, have a short growing cycle, and can be easily grown using or ebb and flow hydroponic system. Some examples of leafy greens that can be grown in a vertical farm include lettuce, kale, basil, pak choi, and more.
Growing fruit in vertical farms
Fruits can also be grown in vertical farms, although the growing process can be more challenging than with leafy greens due to the height of the plants.
Starter plants or propagules such as strawberries and tomatoes are commonly grown in vertical farms, with the systems providing the necessary nutrients and growing conditions. The starter crops will then be moved into a greenhouse, polytunnel, or open-field farming system to continue to grow.
Small fruiting crops such as chilies can be fully grown, repeatably, in an IGS vertical farm. They have been growing and harvesting chilies from their own crop research center for the last two years.
The benefits of growing these kinds of plants in a vertical farm is that this system allows for year-round production, regardless of weather conditions. This can ensure a reliable supply of high-quality starter plants and reducing reliance on imports.
Growing trees in vertical farms
Vertical farming systems are ideal for producing tree seedlings because they provide exact control over growing factors such as light, temperature, humidity, and nutrient levels. This is especially advantageous for young seedlings, which are more vulnerable to external stresses and can benefit from a completely controlled, stable growing environment.
Growing tree seedlings in a vertical farm can also result in improved yields as the growing area is stacked vertically, more plants per square meter may be grown than with standard seedling growing methods.
Growing medicinal plants in vertical farms
A medicinal crop, also known as a pharmaceutical crop, is a plant cultivated specifically for the production of pharmaceutical or nutraceutical products.
Vertical farming is an excellent approach for growing medicinal crops because it allows for year-round production, reduced contamination risk, efficient use of space, and no need for pesticides. As a result, high-quality crops are produced on a consistent basis regardless of external conditions, containing high levels of specific plant compounds needed in the manufacture of medications or pharmaceuticals.
Vertical farming offers a sustainable solution to meet the increasing demand for food production while reducing the environmental impact of traditional farming. While vertical farming may not be suitable for all types of crops or businesses yet, it is an excellent alternative for those looking to enhance their production efficiency and sustainability.
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