Vertical Farming is a Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Agriculture

The innovative company uses aeroponic technology in indoor vertical farms to grow food safely with a lower environmental impact.

Apr 26, 2019
Vertical Farming is a Sustainable Alternative to Conventional Agriculture | The innovative company uses aeroponic technology in indoor vertical farms to grow food safely with a lower environmental impact.

AeroFarms is a company on a mission to change the way agriculture is done by building environmental responsible farms worldwide that will enable local pesticide-free nutritious food production at scale. How they do it is what makes them very different from conventional farms.

AeroFarms, founded in 2004, grows its produce in the largest indoor vertical farm in Newark, New Jersey, and at eight additional farms. Instead of growing plants in soil, the firm uses patented aeroponic technology. The plants sit in air canals and are sprayed with water mist that allows their roots to grow.

With the world's population growing and expected to hit nine billion by 2050, the UN's Food Administration Organization estimates that food production must increase by 70 percent to keep up with worldwide demand. There is currently not enough farmable land to meet this requirement, so indoor farming could play a major role in increasing food production.

AeroFarms' technology allows for faster growth cycles and quicker harvests, meaning more food can be grown every year, in a much smaller space and with far less water than on a conventional farm.

The company uses less than one percent of the land conventional farming needs for the same output and estimates that its indoor vertical farms' yields are 390 times higher per square foot annually than a field-based farm.

And if that's not enough to convince you, there are additional benefits to indoor farming. The company can fully control the production environment from seed to package.

A 2017 report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services found that more than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas are substantially degraded through soil erosion and water degradation. Arable land is decreasing, and poor soil health is contributing to less healthy agriculture. Aerofarms' methods ensure that the plants get micro and macronutrients and best of all, its technology means zero pesticides because the enclosed growing method keeps the crops pest-free.

According to the global agriculture report, 80 percent of the ground and surface water is used for agriculture in the US, while some other Western countries use over 90 percent. AeroFarms uses closed-loop water circulation and says that its farming method uses 95 percent less water than field farming.

AeroFarms also installed special LED lights with a specific light recipe that gives each of the types of greens they grow exactly the light spectrum, intensity, and frequency they need for the most efficient photosynthesis. According to the company, it also uses the most energy efficient methods available to power the lighting.

The farms grow baby greens and microgreens that feature baby kale and arugula, as well as newcomers like ruby streaks mustard greens and baby watercress for their retail brand Dream Greens that are currently available only in the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.

This environmentally thinking certified B Corporation believes that produce should be locally grown to reduce transportation emissions by locating their farms near population centers.

AeroFarms was named one of the most innovative companies in 2018 from Fast Company and was honored by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation as one of the Circular Economy 100, a select group of global companies focused on eliminating waste and having a positive impact on the environment so they are clearly doing something right!

Innovative companies like AeroFarms are the key to solving the problems of how to feed a hungry world in the future.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.