A frequently asked question that we get is “ Which is better Indoor vertical farming or greenhouses. Well there is no definite choice as we require both to feed our global population with healthy and organic food. Both these technologies, though often mistaken to be the same, have significant differences in terms of cost, CAPEX, OPEX, locations etc. These high- tech sustainable farming methods are taking over the agricultural world, gaining popularity in the past decade.
Let’s start with the basics, greenhouses are semi- controlled environments that follow a single layer farming system, enclosed in spaces that have walls and ceilings constructed from glass or plastic, allowing natural light in. While vertical farming, a fairly more recent invention, uses trays of usually plants, stacked vertically in a controlled climate, with LED lights illuminating every layer. Although both offer fresh, pesticide-free and locally grown produce, vertical farming is highly capital intensive, almost 6 to 10 times costlier than setting up greenhouses.
So why do people invest in vertical farming? Firstly they are compact farms having more production rate per square metre. This results in saving space and can be designed and built in any climate or location. It minimises water usage and is environment friendly compared to conventional farming. Let us not forget that such systems grow food closer to their consumer ultimately reducing transport costs. Despite these benefits, the operating costs are pretty high, due to the use of artificial lights or ‘grow lights’ which result in high energy consumption. Also the production is limited to microgreens, herbs and leafy greens as there are space restrictions in growing vegetables.
Now coming to greenhouses, as stated earlier they are a single layer farming system and valued as their surfaces are illuminated by the sun, drawing energy naturally. It is less capital intensive and has lower OPEX when compared to vertical farms. This also means you can grow much less produce in the same space compared to vertical farms. It is an energy efficient method and can control and establish an optimal environment for cultivating plants. Due to the closed space, it provides protection against pests and thereby reduces the use of pesticides as well. Due to its controlled climate, greenhouses can produce high- quality crops all year round and you can avail more than one crop cycle per year, and a wider variety of plants.
So the question of which is more suited to your needs, boils down to the location of the farm. If the farm is to be situated in the city where spaces are limited and land costs are high, the vertical farm is an efficient method to invest on. Apart from its use of limited spaces, it enables the crops to be closer to the consumer and provide healthier and organic produce to the consumer markets in the city. Whereas if the location is on the outskirts of a city, where real estate costs are comparatively lesser, greenhouses are a more feasible option. There is more space available to construct a fully functional greenhouse and the costs of greenhouses are lesser than that of vertical farms. To know more about sustainable farming methods and decide on what suits your case the most, feel free to Contact us. GO CLEAN, GO GREEN.