Today, more than 90 per cent of Singapore’s vegetables for daily consumption are imported because very little is grown locally. Yet despite the fact that farming seems unlikely in a crowded urban environment, more and more fresh veggies are starting to be produced in Singapore. Funded by the Singapore Millennium Foundation (SMF), new studies led by Associate Professor He Jie, conducted at the National Institute of Education, involving the design and development of an integrated vertical aeroponic farming (VAF) system to cultivate vegetables, are helping Singapore diminish its reliance on vegetable imports.
Using this VAF system, Chinese broccoli, basil, and green and red-leaved lettuce are now being produced under LED lighting. Given land is at such a premium in Singapore, could going vertical be one of the most feasible and eco-friendly ways to reduce external dependence on imports, while enhancing national food security?
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About VAF and LED-Lighting
Vertical Aeroponic Farming (VAF) system involves the stacking of plant containers to grow crops in buildings or greenhouses. This system efficiently provides plant roots with the necessary nutrients, hydration and oxygen they need to thrive. Compared to soil-based methods, aeroponic culture uses significantly less water due to the direct application of nutrients to the roots. LED-lighting is also used in VAF systems and can actually be placed much closer to the plants than other lighting systems, thus enabling greater vertical stack-ability of modules and more efficient use of space. Additionally, preliminary studies have shown that popular vegetables such as Chinese broccoli and red and green-leaved lettuce could be cultivated indoors using LED lighting exclusively, without the need for natural sunlight.
About Why Vertical Farming is Better for the Environment
Vertical farming eliminates the threat of genetically modified foods, disease and contamination from animals. It eradicates invasive insects and the need for harmful pesticides. More food can be grown closer to home, thus diminishing pollution from vehicles shipping food across long distances. Vertical farming technology also decreases waste and encourages recycling. Forests can replace existing horizontal farming areas, reducing CO2 emissions and replenishing natural species. Ultimately, vertical farming could reduce global warming in the long term.
Did you know…
By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth’s population will reside in urban centres. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, human population is expected to rise to at least 8.6 billion, requiring an additional 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) to feed them using current technologies. That quantity of farmland is no longer available. Thus, the need to adapt and improve our agricultural system is evident, and the use of new technologies such as vertical farming may be one part of an effective sustainable solution.