Vertical farming

Vertical farming to be introduced in India soon

Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) scientists in Kolkata are working on a module to grow vegetables and fruits in multi storied structures

If the on going project of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) becomes a reality, people in urban areas would be getting their daily doze of vegetables and other perishable farm produce freshly grown from multi storied buildings right next to their apartments.

With farm land becoming scarce, ICAR experts are working on the concept of ‘vertical farming’ in soil-less conditions, in which food crops can be grown even on multi storied buildings in metros like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai without using soil or pesticides.

ICAR is looking into the scope of vertical urban agriculture. This could cater to the need of fresh vegetables in the cities, which are growing in terms of height with numerous multi-storied buildings cropping up. And this farming would be done soil free

Vertical farming is a relatively new concept, which could help raise production without occupying space. If a building stood on a one-hecatre plot of land but had five stories, it would result in production from five hectare of land. The new farming technique envisages production of crops hydroponically (nutrient-enriched water) or aeroponically (nutrient-enriched air), without using soil or compost. The plants can get the required sunlight through glass windows.

In the advanced stages, high rises could also provide a temperature-controlled environment to grow seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers. Artificial light could replace sunlight as well. “As plants need to take nutrients and water from soil, they can get them from minimal amounts of soil if it is made nutrients-rich.

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Productive efficiency of vertical farming was tested in Punjab, where scientists have attained initial success in growing potato tubers in soil-less conditions. “Growing fruits and vegetables in soil-less condition and in a controlled environment will provide another advantage. As most of the disease-producing microbes come from the soil, the use of pesticides would be minimised if they can be grown in soil-less conditions. Hence, citizens would get farm fresh fruits and vegetables from their neighbourhood itself.

The concept of vertical farming in soil-less conditions has already been introduced in the US and Europe in the West and Japan and Singapore in the South East.

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