Everyone knows what’s coming: The agricultural sector will face enormous challenges to feed the 9.6 billion people projected to inhabit the planet by 2050. In order to do so, food production must increase by 70 percent in spite of the limited availability of arable lands. Another 8.5 million square kilometers, or land the size of Brazil, are needed.
Not only is land needed but there are also increasing needs for fresh water — more than 70 percent of the world’s fresh water already goes to agriculture. As Skyscraper Farm CEO Nick Starling puts it: “We don’t have a water crisis. We have a water allocation crisis.”
Society has responded to these challenges with three innovative shifts: new farming techniques, younger farmers to pioneer them and utilizing technology to make fulfillment easier. Vertical farming refers to the practice of growing crops indoors in vertically stacked layers or on vertically inclined surfaces inside structures like warehouses, shipping containers or even skyscrapers. These indoor farming systems are designed to maximize crop yields while minimizing environmental impacts. Moreover, by bringing farms closer to where people live, this farming method is expected to be both efficient and cost-effective by reducing transportation expenses and environmental damage.