A study conducted by Frances Sandison, Jagadeesh Yeluripati, Derek Stewart looked at the potential for Green vertical farming and its environmental effect compared to more traditional or conventional farming methods. `
“Climate change is a pressing global issue that stresses the agriculture sector significantly. With the recognition of the impacts of climate change on food security, there has been a greater uptake of controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to provide climate-resilient and high-quality production. One form of CEA that is emerging as an alternative to traditional farming methods is vertical farming (VF).” They mention in their research paper.
VF allows for primary production in urban locations, reducing seasonality and variability in produce. However, it is important to explore the environmental impacts of VF produce in comparison with conventional farming methods. This research aimed to do just that, using lettuce as an example crop.
The study found that electricity consumption by Vertical Farming accounted for 91% of the carbon footprint. Under the 2019 Scottish electricity mix, VF did not offer a viable competitor for UK open-farmed lettuce or Spanish imports in terms of low greenhouse gas emissions (at approximately 1.49 kgCO2 eq. kg−1). However, with the increasing use of renewable electricity in the national mix, by 2020, this had dropped to 0.42 kgCO2 eq. kg−1 making it comparable with UK open-field agriculture (at approximately 0.46 kgCO2 eq. kg−1). Under a 100% renewable electricity generation scenario, Vertical Farming-related emissions dropped further (to 0.33 kgCO2 eq. kg−1).
This research highlights the potential of green Vertical Farming as an alternative for sustainable future produce, especially under changing climate scenarios. With increasing use of renewable electricity, Vertical Farming could offer a low-carbon production method not subject to seasonality, with higher water and nutrient efficiency than traditional farming methods. As the world faces the pressing issue of climate change, it is important to consider all options for sustainable food production, and VF may be one solution worth exploring further.
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