Aim and Objectives
The main aim of vertical urban farming is producing fruits and vegetables by effectively utilizing the space and other resources environmental friendly manner. The objectives should reflect the purpose and benefits of this farming in details such as to year-round supply of fresh fruits and vegetables to the urban community, to reduce production cost, to reduce the cultivation space and usage of other resources, to serve as teaching and research ground for students and scientists, to reduce the environmental pollution, etc. (Scott, 2000). Therefore, the aim and objectives should match to achieve the goal of vertical urban farm construction, which is to make them so desirable in all aspects that every neighbourhood will want one for their very own.
Background of the study/introduction
The vertical urban faming idea was first developed by Professor Dickson Despommier (Columbia University, USA) in 1999. Who has explained that if all farmers continue to use current land-intensive agriculture practices, they may not be able to produce enough food to feed the world’s population, which can increase by an estimated 3 billion people by 2050. By that time, 80 percent of the world’s inhabitants may live in or close to cities. Therefore, he insisted the need of a new farming model (McConnell, 2008). The idea of vertical farming is to utilise the space of tall buildings to grow food year-round in environments cooled and heated by energy produced by rooftop solar panels. Despommier has also further added that a 30-story building taking up one city block could feed 50,000 people with vegetables, fruit, eggs and chicken. Upper floors would grow crops; lower floors would house chickens and fish ponds. Hydroponics would be used. Finding the required money will be the major task for the research and development (McConnell, 2008).
Vertical urban farming in mixed used buildings is a promising task gets ready to challenge. A building that is designed and facilitated in order to contain vegetables, herbs, fish, fruit, egg-laying chickens and a goat and sheep dairy facility. The building can be powered by photovoltaic glazing, small and large-scale wind turbines and methane generated from compost. A rainwater cistern on top of the tower may provide irrigation for on-site crops and roof gardens. In addition to farm and garden facilities, the tower also contain a plant and seed lab, an organic foods store, a supermarket, a harvest restaurant, a transit station, and underground parking. Regardless of whether it is ever built, the building represents a potential urban future of mixed-use buildings with tenants that work together (i.e. the roof garden supplies food to the restaurant and supermarket, the plant and seed lab provides research for the roof garden, etc.) (Anon, 2009).
Brick Lane – History
Brick lane is a long street in Tower Hamlets. It is the heart of the city of Bangladeshi-Sylheti community (Banglatown). The street was formerly called as White Chapel Lane, however it was changed into Brick lane since the local earth deposits were used to manufacture brick and tiles in the 15th century (Anon, 2001). This street and surrounding area became a popular ground for immigrants from Huguenot refugees followed by Irish, Ashkenazi Jaws and Bangladeshis in the 17th centuries who engaged mainly in weaving. However, the area became a centre for weaving, tailoring and the clothing industry due to the abundance of semi- and unskilled immigrant labour force. The Brick lane market was developed in the 17th century was popular for fruits and vegetables sold outside the city on Sundays (Aftab, 2004). Early Bangladeshi immigrants attracted more and more immigrants from Bangladesh and helped shape them to Britain and settle in Brick lane. In the 20th century the Brick Lane area gained importance in the second wave of development of Anglo-Asian cuisine. The lane is popular for curry houses, curry is the main dish for almost all part of the Indian sub-continent and nearby regions such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. However, since 1990’s the area became a popular site for several best known night clubs such as 93 Feet East and The Vibe Bar. The area has broadened in to a vibrant art and fashion student area recently with considerable exhibition space. The fine art and fashion courses and exhibitions are taking place near Brick Lane each year (Anon, 2001; Aftab, 2004). Now the area become more concentrated with population and since it is in the heart of London every inch of land become important and expensive.
Problems in growing fruits and vegetables indoor
Since indoor plants are generally grown in containers, water and fertilization become a significant problem. Therefore, more care and attention must be taken in watering, it is very difficult to adopt any prescribed irrigation systems in indoor farming where the plants are gown in containers. Watering by hand is highly advisable, since plants are dried out faster than outside, frequent watering is needed. And also it is necessary to check regularly the drainage pores of containers because stagnation of water at field capacity may cause root system to die due to lack of respiration and eventually cause permanent wilt to the plant. Fertilizer application should be at appropriate concentration because leaf, stem and the root system of the indoor plants are relatively very soft as these are not harden due to the external weather changes, therefore heavy and inappropriate application of fertilizer may cause damage to the plants. Foliar application of fertilizer in liquid form is advisable to the indoor plants grown especially in containers. Appropriate temperature and light should be assured to the fruits and vegetable crops along with proper monitoring system in order to get better harvest with assured quality produce. Monitoring of temperature, RH and light is a challenging task in indoor planting.
Frequent inspection is necessary for the any insects, pests and rodents in indoor farm building. Once the trapped in any way in the farm building, there is a very limited chance for them to escape. Therefore, there is a change to reproduce themselves and cause severe damage to the crops indoor. Disease symptoms also need to be monitored regularly, though the opportunity of disease infestation is relatively lower than outdoor farming, the damage will be more severe once infestation take place. General sanitation in all aspect in and out of the indoor farm should be followed. Regular thinning out, pruning and training should be done to the fruits and vegetable crop to avoid unnecessary growth of stem and root system. It is mandate as the plants are grown in containers and in a congested space to avoid the completion among plants for water, fertilizer and light. Special care and attention also need to be taken during harvesting, handling and storage of fruits and vegetables (Rexford, 1910).
Research on indoor farming
In vertical indoor farming, technical systems replace natural ones in a lab-like environment and eliminate the need to import food miles away from the city whilst saving fossil fuel energy and carbon output. However, vertical farming is just a concept bounded with many questions to answer. Replacing the sun is the prime question and current indoor lighting systems cost too much and use too much energy to make large-scale indoor agriculture viable. However, a low cost highly promising lighting system for indoor farming has been designed by a group of PhD students from Berkeley Engineering (Anon, 2009a). Meanwhile, a research conducted by Cliff (2008) in order to assure the quality of air composition in the indoor farm, air composition (CO2 and O2) is very important for plants for their photosynthesis and respiration and subsequently air pollution cause health hazard to human.
Advantages and disadvantages of Vertical Urban Farming
Disadvantages of the vertical urban farming may include higher initial cost, variation in biochemical composition of fruits and vegetables, more skills and techniques are needed, lower off farm shelf-life, etc. The following advantages can also incorporate.
- Year-round crop production.
- No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests, etc.
- All vertical farming foods are grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides or fertilizers are applied.
- Agricultural runoff is totally eliminated by recycling black water.
- The incidences of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface are greatly reduced.
- Black and gray water are converted into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration.
- Vertical farming adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting and non-edible parts of plants and animals.
- Fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows and shipping) is dramatically reduced.
- Vertical farming converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers.
- Vertical farming creates sustainable environments for urban centers.
- Offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical LDCs.
Materials and Methods
It is necessary to discuss the materials used in the research and methodology adopted to achieve the findings. The methods should have been validated and confirmed before the implementation according to the past studies from the literature and pre-trials. The methods should promise to get better and reliable results along with statistical validity. It is also advice to include the designs/drawings of the proposed design.
The major social benefit of the vertical farming is to provide all urban populations with a varied and plentiful harvest that eliminates food and water as resources needed for the competing population. Starvation may be reduced or eliminated and health of millions improves dramatically, largely due to proper nutrition and the lack of parasitic infections formerly acquired at the agricultural interface. This concept has the potential to accomplish the task considered in the past as nearly impossible and highly impractical. Vertical farming may be an architectural beauty as well as highly functional, bringing a sense of pride to the neighbourhoods in which they are built (Hemond and Fechner-Levy, 1999; Dubos, 1968).
Waste management and sustainability
The liquid (e.g. drained water) and solid waste from the whole farm building should be managed efficiently. The design (farm) should be sustainable in terms of resource, demand, supply, marketing, transportation, environmental concern, waster management, etc. should be validated. Liquid wastes are generally processed (digested and then de-sludged), then treated with a bactericidal agent (e.g., chlorine) and released into the nearest convenient body of water. However, sometimes it is discarded without treatment, which is believed to greatly increase the health risks associated with infectious disease transmission due to fecal contamination (Eckenfelder, 1999; Malkow, 2004). All possible non-decomposable solid waste are commonly re-cycled (returnable cans, bottles, cardboard packages, etc.) and/or used in energy generating schemes. Methane generation contributes significantly to energy generation and may be able to supply enough to run vertical farms without the use of electricity from the grid. In the mean time, all decomposable solid wastes are used to make compost, which intern is used as organic fertilizer in the same location (Dumontet, et al., 2001; Wie, et al., 2003).