Dr. Manisha Sahu, Dr. Ajay Verma and Dr. V.M.Victor
Department of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering

Vertical farming or high-rise farming is a proposed indoor, urban farming technology involving large-scale agricultural production in multi-story buildings. It is an intensive farming strategy which mainly employs advanced techniques such as hydroponics and aeroponics to produce crops like fruits, vegetables and edible mushrooms continuously. It also includes the raising of livestock and fishes indoor. The modern ideas of vertical farming use indoor farming techniques and controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) technology, where all environmental factors can be controlled.

The Problem of food security
By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster? A potential solution: Indoor farming.

Vertical farming has seventy times the yield of traditional farms
The scheme ditches the romanticized ideal of farming, acres and acres of open fields dotted with men and women toiling in the sun, getting their hands dirty, in favor of enclosed urban spaces where engineers, electricians and harvesters mill about, wearing protective clothing, masks, and gloves.
    Besides it’s the vertical farming with multicolored LED lights, computer screens lining the walls, and faithful preservation of club decor, AeroFarms’ research facility could easily pass off as a sci-fi themed club. It makes a befitting setting for a company that is promising to increase crop yields by as much as 70 times compared to traditional field farms, without using any pesticides or fertilizers. The fine print is that the productivity is calculated using square footage occupied and not the vertical space utilized, making comparisons with ground floor-only traditional farms fraught.

Vertical Farms/Urban Farms
Vertical farming consultants for sustainable, organic and economical farming. We study your requirements and propose the most optimum farming solution to make it a sustainable and profitable venture.


1. Aeroponic System is an efficient way of growing plants, vegetables, herbs, small fruits in a controlled environment. This environment can be created in any indoor facility such as house, school, office etc and outdoor facilities like Glass house for commercial applications. Below are the product details shown pictorially.
  • A closed of semi closed Box/reservoir: – This is made of plastic/PVC/light sheet which can vary in size depending on the number of plants(Pods) a person wants to grow.
  • Nutrient Pump with controller: – This pump is used to transport the nutrient mix to the mist nozzle. This keeps a check on the amount of nutrients that need to be supplied to the roots of the plant. This also controls when the mistifier has to shoot the mist to the plant roots.
  • Mistifier or nozzle: – This is used to convert the nutrient solution to mist and then spray the small water particles to the roots of the plant.
  • Plant Holders: – The plan roots grow in air; hence a plant holder is required to keep it suspended in air.
  • Water circulation system through pipes: – Pipes are required to circulate the nutrient solution to the pump and from the pump to the mistifier.
  • Indicators: – The system shows indication once the nutrient mix, water, Glow Bulbs needs to be changed or refilled.

2. The system can be made in a number of sizes depending on the number of plants it can grow. It can grow lesser number of plants in an indoor home environment where as large number of plants can be grown on a commercial level.

3. The system requires very limited agricultural resources such as water and electricity and provides a yield in lesser time that too Organic.

The purported advantages of this farming technology are summarized:

1. Increased and Year-round Crop Production: This farming technology can ensure crop production all year-round in non-tropical regions. 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending on the crop. For strawberries, 1 indoor acre may produce yield equivalent to 30 acres.

2. Protection from Weather-related Problems: Because the crops will be grown under controlled environment, they will be safe from extreme weather occurences such as droughts and floods.

3. Organic Crops Production: The advantages of this urban farming technology can be further exploited by large scale production of organic crops. The controlled growing conditions will allow a reduction or total abandonment of the use of chemical pesticides.

4. Water Conservation and Recycling: According to Despommier, the vertical farming technology includes hydroponics which uses 70 percent lesser water than normal agriculture. Aeroponics will also be used which consumes 70 percent less water compared to hydroponics.

5. Environment Friendly: Every land area that will be developed for this farming technology will reduce by a hundred fold the necessity of utilizing land for food production. These farms could be reverted to their natural state. This will promote the regrowth of trees which are effective in CO2 sequestration.

6. Human Health Friendly: Indoor farms will reduce the occupational hazards associated with traditional, horizontal farming. Such risks include: accidents in handling farming equipment, exposure to infectious diseases like malaria, exposure to poisonous chemicals, and confrontations with poisonous or dangerous animals.

7. Energy Conservation and Production: Selling of the crops in the same building in which they are grown will significantly reduce the consumption of fuel that is used in transporting the crops to the consumers.
    Vertical farms can also generate power. Although a 30-story vertical farm needs 26 million kwh of electricity, it is capable of generating 56 million kwh through the use of biogas digesters and by capturing solar energy (medicalecology.org).

8. Sustainable Urban Growth: The technology could provide more employment to the rural populace expected to converge to the cities in the years to come. However, traditional farming will continue because many crops are not suited to indoor farming.

The Vertical Farming Issues

1. The financial feasibility of vertical farming has not been established. A detailed cost-benefit analysis is yet to be made in order to support its advantage over the traditional horizontal farming.

2. The advantages of vertical farming are partly based on food miles, the distance that food is transported from area of production to consumption.

3. If fossil fuels will be used to power the vertical farms, the net environmental effect may be in the negative. It is possible that the traditional horizontal farms will burn less coal and contribute less to climatic change.

4. There is no certainty that vertical farms will reduce the area utilized for horizontal farming. It is possible that if ever it is implemented, it will merely become supplementary to the existing farms in producing food and biofuel to meet the increasing demand. It will be more beneficial to grow many crops like corn, rice and wheat in open fields as compared to many fruits and vegetables.

5. There is an enormous requirement for energy in vertical farming. It is estimated that with 30 storeys, the supplemental light that needs to be supplied per square foot in every floor is ten to forty watts.