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How plant factories stack up against field agriculture

With the world's population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, estimations project that food production must increase by 70 percent to keep up with worldwide demand. This means farmers will be required to grow more foodstuff in the next 35 to 40 years than the last 10,000 years combined. There is presently not enough farmable terrain to meet this constraint, and due to the negative environmental impacts of global deforestation (including desertification and flooding), clearing more forest for cultivation is not a sustainable option. Vertical farming, with its potential benefits, may play a major role in addressing the growing food demand while minimizing environmental impact.

NASA reports that the majority of the world's fresh water supplies are draining faster than they are being replenished with freshwater demand set to increase by 55 percent by 2050. Currently, agriculture is responsible for 92 percent of the global freshwater usage, creating a challenge for even developed countries such as the United States, China and Australia.

Approximately 1.3 billion tons of food destined for human consumption gets lost or wasted each year globally, discarded anywhere along the supply chain, from farmland to supermarkets, restaurants and home consumer.  

Some of the obvious benefits of vertical farming for is year-round crop production for both human and livestock consumption, consistent quality, and predictable output. Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) holds other environmental benefits, requiring less fertilizer being applied to plants, reducing water usage up to 95 percent and, through weather-proofing, eliminating the need for chemical pesticides. CEA technology allows for faster growth cycles and quicker harvests, meaning more food can be grown every year, in a much smaller space than on a conventional farm.

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