Maintaining Optimum Growth Conditions in Vertical Farms

Shutterstock | CC7

The global population is growing rapidly, and new technologies are required to meet the rising food demands. Vertical farming provides a secure supply of food all through the year while using lesser amounts of water, space, and energy. Creating the ideal environment, and particularly the perfect CO2 atmosphere, in vertical farms is vital for enhancing crop yields and farm economics. Edinburgh Sensors’ GasBoxNG is a ready-to-use gas sensor that allows conditions of ideal plant growth to be ensured.

By 2050, it is projected that the population worldwide will increase to nine billion, resulting in a 59-98% increase in food demand. Regardless of constant improvements in farming practices, present crop yields are growing very slowly to meet the anticipated increase in food demand. Furthermore, in the coming decades, the agricultural industries must start to adapt to changing conditions brought on by climate change. Researchers around the world are examining new and improved technologies that can transform food production and help keep up with the food demand.

Out of the nine billion people that will live on the earth by 2050, it is projected that 80% will dwell in cities. Vertical farms erected in small urban spaces such as sky-scrappers, warehouses, or even shipping containers, can provide a steady supply of local food in cities without the need for large areas of farming land.

Precision farming and environmental control technologies have allowed the progress of vertical farms that have been stated to use 95% less water, no pesticides, no soil, and 50% less fertilizer compared to traditional farms while creating 75% more crops per square foot.

Countries Around the World Are Investing in Vertical Farms

A number of projects have shown the benefits of vertical farms in prototypes, pilot projects, and at commercial production levels. A vertical farm was erected in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster resulted in a food shortage.

Commercial vertical farms have also cropped up in empty industrial spaces in countries including the Netherlands, Singapore, and the USA. The vertical farming market is predicted to increase to $13 billion by 2024, with indoor growing in urban structures predicted to signify 70% of the market.

Environmental Control for Successful Vertical Farming

Engineering the ideal environment for crop growth has been the subject of a surplus of research over the last 10 years. It is vital to understand the impacts of environmental factors on plant growth to realize the best crop yields and resource efficiency in vertical farms.

Temperature, water supply, humidity, nutrient content, light, and atmosphere must all be cautiously controlled to guarantee optimal crop yields and least resource use.

The effects of CO2 concentration on crop growth have been researched intensely in the last few years. Small variations in atmospheric CO2 concentrations can greatly affect plant growth and photosynthesis rates, so CO2 levels in vertical farms must be carefully tracked and controlled.

The CO2 levels in vertical farms can be customized to the crop being grown, and the particular growth stage of the crops. A number of studies have revealed that increased CO2 levels can provide increased water efficiency and better plant growth rates. The specific effect of CO2 levels on plant growth is reliant on the crop species and the plant’s growth stage. For instance, yields of tomato plants cultivated in CO2-enriched conditions grew by 17%, while yields of lettuce cultivated in CO2-enriched conditions grew by 68%.

In order to preserve ideal growth conditions, CO2 levels must be checked and managed using gas sensing systems.

CO2 Sensors Are Essential for Vertical Farms

CO2 sensors are important equipment for tracking and controlling conditions in vertical farms. Sensors may be added to automated control systems to continually monitor and maintain CO2 levels, offering ideal plant growth conditions without the need for human involvement.

The most common solutions for monitoring indoor CO2 levels are non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) CO2 sensors. In an NDIR CO2 sensor, infrared light is conveyed through a tube of air to an infrared detector. The detector takes into account the light that was not absorbed by the CO2 present in the tube, and the concentration of atmospheric CO2 is measured. The NDIR CO2 sensors are mainly popular as they deliver accurate CO2 measurements, are comparatively inexpensive, easy to operate, and easy for non-experts to set up.

The new Boxed Gascard from Edinburgh Sensors is a ready-to-use NDIR CO2 sensor that is perfect for vertical farming applications. It employs a pseudo dual beam NDIR measurement system to provide better stability and reduced long-term drift, with least optical complexity. Therefore, the GasBoxNG provides fast and reliable CO2 measurements. The useful CO2 data provided by the GasBoxNG can be transferred to atmospheric control systems using an optional RS232 communication interface.

The Boxed Gascard from Edinburgh Sensors

To know more about this new NDIR CO2 sensor that is very successful in vertical farming, customers can visit the stall set up by Edinburgh Sensors to showcase the Boxed Gascard at the SENSOR+TEST Measurement Fair in Nürnburg, Germany between 26th and 28th June. Customers can meet experts to discuss their specific application requirements.

Download the Brochure for More Information

References and Further Reading

  1. ‘Growing a better future: Summary’ –https://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/cr-growing-better-future-170611-summ-en_0.pdf
  2. ‘Can vertical farming feed the world and change the agriculture industry?’ –https://inhabitat.com/can-vertical-farming-feed-the-world-and-change-the-agriculture-industry/
  3. ‘Future food-production systems: vertical farming and controlled-environment agriculture’– Benke K, Tomkins B, Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 2017.
  4. ‘Vertical Farming: Key to Mitigating World’s Hunger’ – Pandey S, Science Reporter, 2017.
  5. ‘Vertical Farming Market to exceed $13bn by 2024: Global Market Insights, Inc.’ –https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2017/05/17/986832/0/en/Vertical-Farming-Market-to-exceed-13bn-by-2024-Global-Market-Insights-Inc.html
  6. ‘Plant Factory: An Indoor Vertical Farming System for Efficient Quality Food Production’ – Kozai T, Niu G, Takagai M, Elsevier, 2015.
  7. ‘A Novel Approach for Automating & Analysing Hydroponic farms Using Internet of Things’ –Paulchamy B, Balaji N, Pravatha SD, Kumar PH, Frederick TJ, International Journal of Scientific Research in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology, 2018.
  8. ‘GasBoxNG’ – https://edinburghsensors.com/products/oem/gasbox-ng/
  9. ‘Edinburgh Sensors to attend Sensor and Test 2018’ – https://edinburghsensors.com/news-and-events/sensor-and-test-2018/

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Edinburgh Sensors.

For more information on this source, please visit Edinburgh Sensors.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Submit