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The future of farming?

Bell, L. ORCID: (2023) The future of farming? Food Science and Technology, 37 (2). pp. 16-19. ISSN 1476-2137

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/fsat.3702_4.x


One of the most popular topics in modern food production is vertical farming, one of the most advanced forms of controlled environment agriculture (or CEA). This method of food production comprises aspects of both crop science and engineering and allows us to grow plants at times and in places where it would usually be unfeasible or impossible. Interest in the technology is so widespread that it seems every other week a news story appears heralding the latest advance in vertical or indoor farming, or that a new facility has opened. These can be anywhere from inside shipping containers, or Singaporean skyscrapers, to disused mines and old underground stations. Companies are enthusiastically setting up shops in such exotic locations, making the most of some unusual quirks in their structures to produce food (mostly leafy vegetables and herbs) that might more commonly be grown under the Mediterranean sunshine. The aim of these facilities is to produce crops more efficiently, close to their intended market, eliminating long supply chains, and doing so in a way that is environmentally friendly. But how sustainable are vertical farms and other controlled environment productions? How far down the road to sci-fi levels of urban-agrarian utopia are we, exactly? Can anything other than lettuce be grown in them? Unsurprisingly, the answers aren’t exactly clear cut, and require dissection of the technologies at the heart of controlled environment food production. In particular, the thorny issue of heating and lighting such spaces, and where the energy comes from to make such ventures possible.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:112151
Publisher:IFIS Publishing

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