Why can’t we grow all our crops using vertical farming already?


The transition to vertical farming, would IMHO, allow regular farmland to transition to forest — which would help offset carbon — and reduce the cost for regular farmers bc the crops would grown in a more-controlled environment. So, what’s the holdup?

In: 2

I believe farmland is much much bigger than you think. It’s harder and more expensive to have hundreds or thousands of acres of farmland stacked on top of each other and mass-managed

The scale of farming is probably beyond what you can imagine, vast fields of wheat, corn, and soy just for starters. How do you make that vertical in the real world? You’d need to build the same surface area “up”, maintain those structures, have equipment to handle it, etc. Vertical farming makes sense for some non-commodity crops with relatively high per-kg sale price, where the alternatives involve a lot of expensive shipping.

Even then, it’s a nice idea that doesn’t lead to reduced costs, but increased costs.

Are you gonna build *900 million acres* of structures to do it?

The infrastructure cost is absolutely immense, orders of magnitude beyond everything we’ve ever built. We have entire states dedicated to farmland.

Vertical farming is much more expensive than traditional farming. Most estimates have it at ~3-5x as expensive as traditional farming. It also requires more power usage per acre of growing space than traditional farming does.

Some crops are just not suited to vertical farming as well. Think of how tall corn grows; that kind of crop isn’t exactly ideal for a vertical farm.

This is the reason that vertical farms have largely been growing plants like lettuce that are quick to harvest, low to the ground, and can be grown in high densities.

Who’s going to pay the startup cost for building all these vertical farms? Regular farming you basically just start growing in any piece of arable land. Vertical farms require building a large building, all those racks of stacked planters/crates/whatever, lights, plumbing, etc. The demands for lighting – and consequently electricity – would especially be significant.

Then there’s the fact that vertical farms are primarily used for small plants, like cabbages, tubers, and herbs. High caloric density foods like corn, wheat, and rice aren’t grown in vertical farms.