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

Projections from the World Economic Forum suggest that by 2050, the global population will have increased by 2 billion people. To meet this challenge, farmers are looking to innovative solutions such as vertical farming. This involves growing plants in stacked planting trays, in a controlled environment. Thanks to new technology, growers are now able to optimize conditions such as lighting, humidity, water and nutrition levels.

Vertical farming is gaining popularity due to its ability to utilize unconventional locations such as abandoned buildings, shipping containers and roofs in densely populated areas. This approach to agriculture offers customers the chance to create links with local farms and provides fresher produce to nearby destinations.

This article will examine how Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and robots are assisting farmers in optimizing their production cycles to meet the increasing global demand for fresh food.

Healthy Food and Hydration

Water conservation is an essential element in the increasing popularity of vertical farming as an alternative to conventional farming, which is the primary consumer of potable water in the United States. To illustrate, a vertical farm may only require 1% of the water needed for a traditional farm to grow the same quantity of lettuce. Additionally, it is possible to recycle the water utilized during the process.

Plants can be cultivated using hydroponic vertical farming, which does not require soil. The water irrigation system provides a continual supply of water and essential nutrients, allowing the roots to spread out in the growth trays. Aeroponics is an alternative technique, whereby the roots are sprayed instead of being submerged in water.

Despite its name, hydroponics actually uses considerably less water than traditional farming, as the process eliminates water loss through evaporation and waste. Advanced technology enables vertical farms to reclaim, filter, process, and reuse water.

Producers of hydroponic farming face the challenge of providing nutrients to water in a way that mimics soil. According to a New York Times article, “no one truly comprehends how the soil microbiome works”. This approach of growing food also “detaches it from nature” as it negates the need for local soil when cultivating native produce of a particular area.


Specialized lighting is utilized in indoor vertical farms to replace the sun as an energy source. This provides producers with more control over the lighting, enabling them to optimize it to increase crop yields. They can replicate day and night cycles at any time, and experiment with different light spectrums to determine which provide the best quality harvest.

This illumination is suitable for large-scale plant factories, smaller climate chambers, warehouse farms, and container farms. Indoor crops grown with this illumination are protected from pests and inclement weather, allowing farmers to cultivate them without the need for chemical pesticides.

LED technology has recently emerged as the superior lighting option for farming. It boasts improved efficiency of up to 70%, a longer lifespan and a more competitive price point compared to conventional options. Furthermore, its low-heat emission makes it ideal for installation in vertical spaces, enabling growers to use as many LED lights as necessary.

LED lighting can be an effective form of vertical farming, however it comes with an expensive initial investment cost. Additionally, farmhands must take caution and wear protective eyewear as there is a risk of eye damage.

Sensing and Robotics

Vertical farmers are utilizing sensors, software and mobile devices to monitor environmental parameters such as water, light and humidity. Farming has seen a range of technical advancements, from basic hand tools to more sophisticated inventions such as the cotton gin, grain elevators, chemical fertilizers and satellite imagery.

Business Insider reports that sensors installed in fields have enabled farmers to create accurate maps of the geography and resources in their region, including factors such as soil acidity and temperature. Furthermore, this technology can be used with weather prediction data to inform adjustments to a farm’s watering, feeding, and lighting regimes. By using computer systems, growers are now able to predict the weather for many days, or even weeks, in advance.

Drones and robots could be invaluable for facilities with limited personnel. Using this advanced technology, it is possible to produce the highest quality leafy greens, microgreens, herbs, berries, tomatoes, and more.

Vertical Farming: The Way Forward

Vertical farming has several benefits. It enables crops to be grown closer to their end-users, reducing the need for long-distance food transportation and allowing for the production of high-quality organic food. Additionally, many vertical farms use solar-powered microgrids to generate their own electricity, providing an environmentally-friendly solution.

It is important to note that not all crops are suitable for vertical farming. Wheat, for example, would not be suitable for a vertical farm. Furthermore, unless solar-powered, vertical farms can require a high amount of energy for their lighting and environmental systems, meaning they may not be as environmentally friendly as initially thought.

Despite not being the ideal solution, vertical farms are becoming increasingly popular and are developing new technologies which will make them a key factor in meeting the world’s food needs in the coming years.

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