With the climate emergency and biodiversity crisis becoming increasingly pressing, we could see a shift away from conventional agriculture towards indoor food production, say some experts.
The NFU Mutual’s Mr Yorke agrees it’s early days and that, ‘at present, the technology is not suited to all crops; leafy greens work well but cereals and fruits are a challenge.’
Overall, however, he believes the future of sustainable food production lies very much in integrating vertical farming into a wider mix that also includes other ground-breaking tools, such as digital soil mapping systems, robotic micro-sprayers or livestock sensors, that support land-based agriculture and help make it more productive and eco-friendly at the same time.
‘We don’t see vertical farming replacing traditional farming methods — rather we see it complementing farming and maximising spaces which may have previously been seen as non-agricultural,’ he says, quoting, as an example, Growing Underground, a micro-green and salad producer operating 108 feet below the streets of Clapham, in London. ‘It is one of a number of innovations which are already demonstrating alternatives to conventional field-based production.’