Cutting-Edge Technologies Are Aiding Indoor Farmers in Their Mission to Provide Food for the World

As per the World Economic Forum, the global population is projected to swell by an additional 2 billion people by 2050. To address this pressing issue, farmers are exploring modern solutions like vertical farming. This ground-breaking technique utilises stacked planting trays in a controlled environment to grow crops. Farmers can now leverage cutting-edge technology to tweak various growth parameters – such as humidity, water intake, lighting, and nutrition – to achieve optimal plant development.

The adoption of vertical farming is on the rise, thanks to its potential to leverage unique spaces like deserted buildings, shipping containers, and rooftops in crowded urban areas. This innovative approach to farming presents a golden opportunity for consumers to connect with nearby farms and enjoy fresher produce straight from the source.

The focal point of this blog post is to explore the ways in which farmers can leverage Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and robots to achieve maximum efficiency in their production cycles, thereby meeting the rising global demand for fresh food.

Good Nutrition and Hydration

Water conservation plays a pivotal role in driving the rapid growth of vertical farming as a sustainable alternative to conventional farming, which is known to be the primary consumer of potable water in the US. For instance, vertical farming can produce the same volume of lettuce using just 1% of the water required by traditional farming methods. Moreover, it is feasible to recycle the water used in the growing process.

Hydroponic vertical farming is a technique that facilitates the cultivation of plants without soil. Instead, an irrigation system drip-feeds a steady supply of water and essential nutrients, which are absorbed by the roots that can spread out in the growth trays. An alternative approach is known as aeroponics, where the roots are sprayed with water instead of being submerged in it.

Contrary to its title, the hydroponics technique utilised in vertical farming consumes significantly less water than conventional farming. This is because the technology eliminates water loss due to evaporation and other forms of waste. Advanced technology also allows vertical farms to reclaim, filter, and recycle water to minimise wastage.

The nutrient provision process in hydroponic farming is a key challenge for growers as it demands a soil-like environment in the water supply. As per a New York Times article, “the inner workings of the soil microbiome” are not yet fully understood. Furthermore, this modern technique of farming “uncouples” the produce from nature, as it eliminates the requirement of local soil to grow native crops that are unique to a specific area.


Indoor vertical farms employ customised lighting solutions to substitute for sunlight and power the growth of crops. This technology grants growers greater flexibility and control over light intensity and duration, which in turn optimises crop yields. Moreover, growers can experiment with different light spectrums to decipher the most suitable combinations for producing high-quality yields.

This form of lighting is appropriate for a variety of settings, including large-scale plant factories, smaller climate-controlled chambers, warehouse farms, and container farms. Indoor crops grown under this lighting are safeguarded against pests and extreme weather, which eliminates the need for chemical pesticides and enables farmers to grow crops more sustainably.

For farmers, LED lighting technology has emerged as the most efficient lighting option available today. Its advantages include up to 70% energy savings, longer service life, and a more competitive price tag compared to traditional lighting methods. Additionally, LED technology’s low-heat output makes it the perfect lighting system for indoor vertical farming, as growers can install as many LED lights as needed without excessive heat production.

Although it is a highly effective form of vertical farming, implementing LED lighting requires a substantial initial investment. Additionally, farm workers must exercise caution and wear protective eyewear to prevent eye damage, which can occur due to prolonged exposure to LED lighting.

The Role of Sensing and Robotics

Today, vertical farmers harness the potential of modern technologies such as sensors, software, and mobile devices to monitor factors like water, light, and humidity that influence crop growth. Over time, farmers have witnessed the evolution of agricultural practices from rudimentary hand tools to complex innovations like the cotton gin, chemical fertilisers, grain elevators, and cutting-edge satellite imaging.

According to Business Insider, the implementation of sensors in fields has allowed farmers to develop accurate maps of the topography and resources in their locality, including critical factors like soil acidity and temperature. By combining this data with weather predictions, growers can improve their watering, feeding, and lighting strategies. Additionally, farmers can now leverage advanced computer technology to forecast weather patterns many days, or even weeks, ahead of time.

Organisations with limited personnel could significantly benefit from the use of drones and robots in vertical farming. By deploying this advanced technology, farmers can cultivate a diverse range of crops like leafy greens, microgreens, herbs, berries, tomatoes, and many other high-quality produce items.

Vertical Farming: Paving the Way for the Future

Vertical farming offers multiple advantages that make it an attractive form of agriculture. By growing crops closer to the end-consumers, it reduces the need for long-distance food transportation, and also allows growers to produce high-quality organic produce. Moreover, many vertical farms derive their power from solar microgrids, which is an eco-friendly solution to generate electricity.

It’s critical to understand that not all crops are compatible with the vertical farming approach. For instance, wheat would not be a viable crop to cultivate using this method. Furthermore, vertical farms, unless powered by solar energy, can consume high amounts of electricity to operate their lighting and environmental systems, which could impact their overall environmental footprint and therefore may not be as sustainable as initially perceived.

Despite not being the perfect solution, vertical farms are experiencing a surge in popularity and are constantly refining their technologies to become a significant contributor in meeting the world’s future food demands.

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