Agriculture is best described as the exploitation of soil in an industrial way to cultivate crops. An agriculture area might look natural but is, in fact, industrial grounds where crops are produced.
But no matter how industrial it is, it can still be more efficient, especially in Southern Europe, where the advantages of vertical farming are much greater than in the Netherlands, as Leo Marcelis argues when he talks about development with Made in NL. “When you move the production inside, stack it, climatize it, and, through technology, light it in a smart way, there is much to be gained.”
On a large scale
One such development is the growing of herbs under LED lights in a supermarket in the Dutch city of Nijmegen. One cultivation cabinet from InFarm can produce a harvest every three weeks and is now also in use in cities such as London, Paris, Seattle, and Copenhagen, to name a few.
Cultivating in such a cabinet leads to 99 percent less use of space, 95 percent less water use, 90 percent less transport, 75 percent less fertilizer use, and 100 percent less chemical pesticides used.
What is happening in Nijmegen can also be done on a larger scale, the advantages of which would be the same. “In a controlled environment like that we can recycle all the water and most of the water the plants evaporate can be retrieved”, says Leo Marcelis. “Because of this, a kilo of tomatoes only requires 2 to 4 liters of water. This would require 17 liters of water in an average Dutch greenhouse and 60 to 200 liters in open field cultivation in Southern Europe.”
Another great advantage is that nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates remain in a closed cultivation system, instead of ending up in the soil, or in ground and surface waters, as they do in open field cultivation.