Does Vertical Farming Work?

vertical farming has been called the
future of Agriculture claimed to solve many of the problems we talked about in
the last video. It’s been a controversial topic with mixed opinions from experts.
Are these claims hype or can it deliver? but first we need a better understanding
of what a vertical farm is There are many different versions and they all
have vastly different capabilities. Part of the problem, is the many types of farm
and confusing array of definitions So let’s deal with those first. vertical farming and urban farming are
both umbrella terms that are sometimes used interchangeably, although they are
not the same. Urban agriculture includes a broad array of concepts, it essentially
focuses on bringing food production into the city. In order to move the production
as close to consumption as possible. This may include the usage of vertical farms
or may involve more traditional growing practices, in an urban environment. While
vertical farms can be urban they don’t have to be, therefor all vertical
farming references in this video won’t be restricted to urban environments.
While vertical farms can use soil most utilize hydro, aero, or aquaponics. These
methods use much less water than typically used in soil. Hydroponics
replaces soil by using a circulating water and nutrient mix for plant growth.
Aeroponics uses an open membrane and a water mist spray with a nutrient mix.
Aquaponics uses hydroponics and an aquatic ecosystem to balance nutrients
in both systems. I won’t be discussing the aquaponics variant in this video.
Strictly speaking, the term vertical farm could be used in reference to structures
that grow food on multiple levels. This could range from small-scale hobby
spaces, to large automated buildings. So let’s quickly take a look at which
versions of this technology, have the most promise to positively impact our
global issues. For many, the image of the vertical farm is a city skyscraper
filled with fruit vegetables trees and perhaps even animals. Whilst some look
amazing, it can be hard to argue that these images lend credibility to the
vertical farming concept. Skyscrapers represent very expensive real estate and are usually reserved for high-value activities. Growing fruit on trees or
rearing animals humanely, have a low value density. This isn’t a problem if
you have acres of cheap land to produce on, but it
is if you’re using premium real estate. Even if you’re growing a dense premium
crop, the cost of growing also increases exponentially with height. The
requirements to pump water and move biomass vertically, takes considerable
energy. This may be insignificant for a ten level farm, but would likely be
prohibitive for a farm with hundreds or thousands of levels. While there are a
number of architectural concepts for skyscraper farms, as yet, only one is
being built. The world food building is currently under construction in
linköping Sweden. While information for this building is limited, even if it
achieves its target costs of 40 million dollars, It is highly unlikely to recoup
that money with its production capacity of 550 tons of vegetables per year. Wall
farms and rooftop farms often share a similar visual appeal to skyscraper
farms. Unlike skyscraper farms, these don’t displace existing real estate.
Instead, they aim to utilize unused spaces to grow food. As such, the cost of
adding these types of farm is often minimal. Many of these farms are created
by hobbyists and double as Gardens. As such, the addition of green space to the
urban environment is considered a welcome one.
While this may seem like good news, the amount of usable surfaces for growing food, is
extremely limited. In fact, Dickenson Despommier, the man who is credited with
inventing the term vertical farm came up with the concept, after his students
calculated that rooftop farming could supply just 2% of 2015 New York’s
population, by fully utilizing all of its rooftops for growing. This is when he
turned to the idea of skyscraper farms. Even if we utilize all usable rooftops
in the world, we would only be able to save a fraction of a percent
the global land. so while rooftop and wall farms aren’t a bad use of otherwise
wasted space, their ability to affect the global challenges are negligible. Vertical greenhouses are largely
transparent structures, that utilize multiple growing levels. One of the
challenges that is introduced by stacking greenhouse levels on top of
each other, is providing enough light as the glass or polymer structure already
absorbs some of the sunlight and stacking vertically increases the risk
of shadows. Vertical greenhouses can get around this problem by rotating the
levels, to get a relatively even distribution of sunlight. By adding
supplementary artificial light, vertical greenhouses
can grow to higher plant density than a typical greenhouse.
Although capital costs and electricity costs are higher. This makes them better
suited to urban environments, where land is at a premium. Vertical greenhouses
essentially allow you to move production closer to consumption. Both horizontal or
vertical hydroponic greenhouses are promising technologies, that will help
comeback the global challenges, as they require 10 to 15 times less land and
water than traditional agriculture. Given that commercial hydroponic greenhouses
are a relatively mature industry, their viability and scalability is not in
question. These greenhouses can grow a broad range of fruits and vegetables but
are not used to grow staple crops such as wheat, which accounts for the majority
of land and water demand. They’re also partially exposed to the climate and
local light levels, which makes them expensive to run in some areas. If we use
greenhouses to produce our global vegetables and some fruits, we would save
less than 2% of our global land, barely enough to offset a projected 2050 land
loss and less than half of the 55% increase in water demand. While
greenhouses may alleviate some of the global challenges, it’s not enough to be
able to prevent the worst of the problems. If we really want to stop and
reverse the global challenges, we will need a more radical approach. Plant
factories are the most technologically advanced version of the vertical farm. They are airtight, highly climate-controlled buildings, with a co2
enriched atmosphere. They’re essentially clean rooms, like those used in drug or
satellite production. Production rooms contain plants on multiple levels, they
are sealed and thermally insulated with no windows. Relying on 100% artificial
lighting. they’re aero, or hydroponic, where transpired water vapor from the plant is
captured and condensed recycling it back into the hydroponic nutrient mix. They are
typically warehouse size buildings, no more than a few stories in height. Plant
factories offer the greatest level of land and water savings of all vertical
farms. They also have the highest level of control and growing conditions,
meaning that they can grow any type of plant, in any region of the world. They’re
not exposed to bad weather or failed harvests, this gives them the potential
to have the greatest impact on the global challenges. Therefore, for the
purposes of this video, when I refer to vertical farms, I’m talking about plant
factories, as they are the most viable version of this technology, although as
we will discover, plant factories introduce their own challenges. While
they have a greater level of real-world practicality, they still face criticisms
around cost, real estate and energy consumption. So how valid are these
criticisms? In order for vertical farming to positively change the world, it needs
to be technologically feasible, environmentally sustainable (or at least
better than current practices) and economically viable. While this industry is still in an early
phase, from a technological standpoint vertical farming works. While it is true
that the current farms focus almost exclusively on leafy greens and herbs,
pretty much any crop can already be produced this way, with existing
technology. Vertical farms use less water than traditional agriculture, a lot less.
In the best vertical farms, one kilogram of lettuce requires 1.2 liters of water.
This is especially impressive given that lettuce is 95% water. 1.2 liters is 17
times better than a normal hydroponic greenhouse and in stark contrast, field
grown lettuce requires a staggering 237 liters per kilogram of lettuce. That’s
200 times more water! The water saved has the potential for a huge positive impact
on water security and reversing wetland destruction. Vertical farms don’t need
pesticides, they require little fertilizer and don’t have uncontrolled
agricultural runoff. These factors combined is great news for freshwater
wildlife. Since they can be built near population centers, proponents of this
technology often argue that urban farms allow for a reduction in carbon
emissions, due to a reduction in food transport. While this is largely true, the
extent of the benefit is often exaggerated from a climate perspective.
Food transport makes up a relatively small portion of agricultural emissions,
the real environmental opportunity for vertical farming, is the potential to
return farmland to forest and shrub land. This will be a massive benefit for
wildlife conservation efforts and also has promise for significant global
carbon sequestration. But how much land can it save? This technology has a vastly
greater yield for a given area, with the cutting edge farms having a growing
density over 100 times greater than field grown.
This has enormous potential for reversing deforestation and habitat
destruction. There is an elephant in the room however, vertical farms trade energy
for density control, it’s how they achieve massive yields for a small area of land.
Artificial lighting accounts for 80 percent of the farms energy costs, based
on the current global energy mix, most of that energy requires carbon emissions to
produce. So on balance, are plant factories good for the environment and
can they be solar-powered? This is something we will investigate in the
next video. Vertical farms can be expensive to set up, especially if you
want a big operation. Running costs can be high from a labor and electricity
perspective. While labor costs decrease with the scale of the operation, it is difficult
to shrink the electricity costs. Plants need light energy to grow, in a field the
sun provides it for free, in a vertical farm, it must be supplied.
Since leafy greens and herbs have a low light requirement and reasonable profit
margins, they are much more economically viable. There are hundreds of them in
operation around the world, some of them are massive in scale. Capable of
producing 30,000 heads of lettuce per day from a single farm. A 2014 study
of 165 Japanese vertical farms found that 25 percent were profitable, 50
percent were breaking even and 25 percent were making a loss.
These are promising numbers for such a new industry. Rapid technological
improvements and a greatly expanding knowledge base, have greatly improved the
profitability in just the four short years since the study. In fact, the
question is no longer can a vertical farm work but how big can this industry
get? and, will this industry ever grow more than leafy greens? Despite being in its infancy, this
technology already accounted for one percent of Japan’s lettuce production in
2014, from 165 vertical farms. While the number of farms has increased
significantly since then, so has the size of the farms. This year, a single farm
opened which will supply 0.6% of the whole Japanese
lettuce market. In 2015 the vertical farming industry was worth 1.15 billion
dollars, in 2020 its projected to be an industry worth over 13 billion
dollars. Just last year the US firm plenty, raised 226 million dollars, with
their plan to roll out their farms near every major US city. With investment from
the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, it’s a significant statement for the
industry. But it’s not just the big companies. For eighty-five thousand
dollars, you can buy a shipping container with a fully installed farm inside and
it’s delivered directly to you. this container requires 1% of an acre
but can produce 20% of an acres worth of produce. This low cost of entry makes
vertical farming very accessible to entrepreneurs and many are getting
involved. A lack of investment certainly isn’t this industry’s barrier to growth.
but what about market size? any of these operations focus on the
premium end of the market because they are capable of delivering the highest
quality produce but they also focus on it out of necessity. Since the bigger
profit margins afforded by premium products, offset the labor and energy
costs of the operation. While this is good news for current businesses, plant
factories will have to compete on price with traditional growing methods, or its
ability to impact at a global level will be severely limited. Only a small
percentage of the market is willing to pay a big premium for high-quality
environmentally-friendly products. The more vertical farming shifts to the
right on the graph, the bigger the size of the market becomes. For the leafy green
market, the cost of production is shrinking fast. As of 2018, a number of
vertical farm products are cost competitive with the market, although
many are still sold at a premium to enhance profits. Taking a look at a
suburban medium-sized farm from Japan 2015, we can see just how close to market
costs they were. They were able to sustainably sell at a price just 12
percent above the country’s wholesale price. Looking into their costs, we get a
sense of the opportunity at hand. In fact, the cutting edge plant factories are likely
to have a cost breakdown that looks more like this. Year on year, yields continue
to increase for given inputs and the cost of the inputs continues to fall.
The electricity, depreciation and labor costs are falling every year as
technologies continue to improve. Something we will look at in more detail
in the next video. This means for leafy greens at least, vertical farms are in a
position to corner the market. If vertical farms take over the leafy green
market, what impact will this have on our global challenges? Lettuce growing uses
over nine trillion liters of fresh water every year but that accounts for just
0.02 percent of global fresh water and lettuce accounts for just 0.1 percent of
our agricultural land usage. While the leafy green market is more than just
lettuce, the reality is it’s just a small fraction of global agriculture. To make a
big global impact, vertical farming needs to be able to economically grow a
broader range of produce, but what will it take to be able to grow more types of
food? Almost all crops can be grown hydroponically,
so in principle, vertical farms could grow almost all of our global crops. So
why aren’t we doing that? and if we could, how big could the impact be? let’s find
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check out the subreddit if you want a more detailed discussion.

100 Replies to “Does Vertical Farming Work?

  1. One of the better ideas I've seen for DIY vertical/wallspace farming, is use a 24 pocket shoe organizer, with plants in every pouch.

  2. energy consumption ? Build more atomic reactors. Fuck solar power, it wont be as clean as atomic power and wont yield as much power as atomic….. well… until actual working net-positive fusion reactors ofc. Also, if the land gets back to the nature, more trees will b planted and plants/trees absorb CO2 as they grow ( mature trees dont do that ), so it will have no impact

    Cost ? everything costs something
    Real Estate ? who cares?

  3. And as always, the main barrier remains capitalism itself, which is preventing us from saving the planet, because of "muh profits".

    Stupid, backwards, inefficient system!

  4. How do you prevent mold / mildew? Reducing water use with condensation in a sealed building is great – but how do you prevent mold / mildew growing like crazy?

  5. Made-up graphs like the one after 2:45 get an automatic downvote!

    I don't know if you pulled that figure from an irresponsible publication, or made it yourself, but it's utter nonsense. There's actually a U-shaped curve of cost per square foot vs. number of floors in a building, and for traditional 4-walled buildings that reaches a minimum at around 8-10 floors in most cities. It's not clear at what height vertical farms in a city would reach that minimum, but a similar curve absolutely exists.

    The U-shaped curve results from increasing construction costs vs. land acquisition (purchase) costs. Any figure that's just a straight exponential curve was clearly not based on actual data, and has zero credibility!

  6. 6:50 "With a C02 enriched atmosphere." Carbon. People seem to be forgetting that carbon helps plants grow, and more carbon just means healthier plants. Still, if vertical farms can make farming and food cheaper, that'd be great.

  7. Okay, hear me out on this one (and correct me where I'm wrong): Regular farms are solar powered. So I actually see no reason why vertical farms can't be solar powered.

    One of the main drawbacks of renewable energy is the lack of efficient conservation of energy. In terms of raw output, renewables are actually pretty good, they're just not very reliable because they rely on the elements to work. But that's fine, because plants don't need constant sunlight. Out in the "real world", they won't get lots of sunlight at night or in cloudy weather either.

    Now, I understand, this would lower the food output of a vertical farm – compared to having constant artificial light fueled by fossiles. But it still has to be a whole lot more efficient than regular farming, once the technology is set up. Use solar stirlings (and perhaps some wind turbines to assist) instead of solar panels, and you have a pretty reliable and long-term food source with close to 0 emissions and low water consumption after the initial construction.

  8. I've dreamed of plant factories since I was a teen having recently moved to a small town. My reasoning was because I preferred urban living and supposed that such farms close to the city would allow an entire farmer's field to multiply in output and also be usable year round which is otherwise not possible in the winter in Canada. There are just so many benefits I can't believe this is not yet replaced traditional farming.

  9. I was wondering if vertical farming could be attached as an external layer of buildings, with a breed of plants which needs maximum sunlight be kept in outside and another plant which needs less sunlight be kept in inner layer. This would not just make building more productive but would also contribute in keeping the building cooler as heat would be absorbed by plants. This would also provide a new architectural outlook and would consume less space.

  10. I'm sorry but hydroponically grown stuff tastes like plastic. I know people in the west are used to it but it all looks like mimicking real food and real meals. You might as well just drink the liquid in which the plants are grown – tastes the same and has the same "nutrients" but would be a lot cheaper and efficient. Also, not everyone wants to live in a skyscraper in a big city. And we don't really have to. Just leave the agriculture to us village folks and you do your city stuff.

  11. I had to stop right here at 11:13 for a moment, you call for solar but in retrospect solo doesn't provide enough energy for the resources put into making the panels or the life time while functional the energy can be solved with nuclear power as the gains will be greater and 100x less pollutant.

  12. I have to wonder if the taste and nutritional value of stuff produced via plant factories will hold up.
    (I mean, sure we can just salt & pepper to solve the taste, but ain't no workaround the need for nutrition…I think)

  13. Your info is bias and poorly informed to any kind of other soil option then modern petro farming. You present a side with it's basis in money and not what is best for our planet.

  14. I really don't like when people pass an idea that would contribute to make our society more environment friendly claiming its not enough to solution the problem, as if we had to find one single magical solution to fix them all.

    Everything helps. The rooftop farms can supply only 2% of a big urban center's food? Well, for such a low cost, that's something. And combined with other ideas, the benefits will add up.

    Good video otherwise, though.

  15. Vertical farming sounds nice, but isn't very useful if the energy used is from fossil fuels or heck, even solar panels. Then there's also the cost of construction, the pollution during the manifacture of electronics and so on. Traditional farms have the advantage of just using sunlight but need a lot of space and transport and water. One could also optimise existing farming techniques to: either make them more efficient, such that you need less land for your food. Spread out your cities to the countryside, and always live close to your food. (Maybe even just eat more locally produced stuff) With the world being connected by the internet, it might not even be necessary to live close to your work, unless you do physical work, which obiously requires your physical presence. Or third: you could try and make your farms blend in with nature, with polyculture farming (growing a mixture of crops, to use less pesticide), or go a step further and go multilevel farming (not just grow multiple crops, but instead a mixture of plants, trees and bushes.) The downside of the third is that our current farming machinery is optimized for monoculture, and polyculture is more difficult for automation, which means either more expensive machinery, or a lot of work, especially with mutilevel farming, since is near impossible to automate that.
    Another point to note is that there's not just food that needs to be grown, there's also a need for biofuels and bioplastics and chemical precursors, all of which are currently from fossil sources. Techniques are underway to produce them from bioresources, which could be agrowaste. If planned well, waste streams from farming could be enough to cover this need. There could be a need for extra production from this source, so there's that. I hear ya thinking: why biofuels, we have electric cars right? I'd say we need a combination of techniques, and biofuels can be a suitable alternative for a few cases where electric cars fall short: biofuels are usefull for long distance travelling, especially for those who can't really just stop to recharge (think of trucks and maybe planes too) and secondly: in areas where there's no source of electricity, or it's not cost effective to build such infrastructure (think of places like the australian outback, confict zones, and places like that)

    If there's one thing to learn about this climate crisis: it's that no single technology will be enough to tackle it. What we need is many different technologies, across all areas of life. And even when a technology might solve a certain aspect in one part of the world, a wholly different technique might need to be applied elsewhere. Life, as we know it, might just get a whole lot more complicated.

  16. good break down, I've looked at this stuff for years, studied in college; but he loses me when he refers to industrial/modern farming 'traditional'. Well yes, everything is better compared to that…and he leaves out permaculture and ecology, stop looking at natural problems like just an engineer, that's how we got to this point.

  17. The problem in getting this out is presntation. To many idiots spouting nonsense about such revolutionary ideas like this one. People in politics should be kept out of these things outside of funding them of course as this becomes more and more prevalent and more cost effective more markets will buy produce specifically from vertical farms. The invisible hand of the market should be exploited in all ways to get this off the ground. I for one cannot wait for this to take off and become the norm.

  18. The cause of many of the world's problems is the fact that the value (actual economic value) of unused natural land is not acknowledged by policy makers. Although there is a lot of space for farming in the world; Especially grazing and animal feed production takes up an inordinate amount of the world's space – To the point where space for natural ecosystems is crowded out. Consumers in general will take forever to acknowledge this problem. Many do, but even more feel they have the right to eat basically only meat. Fish, chicken, mutton, beef, pork, etc. Some have a lower impact, some more.
    But regulators HAVE TO catch on at some point to the fact that natural systems need space and that they are of immense value economically. Or wake up one day with the headache of having to provide the services nature provides artificially. And let's be 100% clear… Currently that is impossible with all the money in the world. Maybe we'll have the technology and the means to do it in hundreds or thousands of years… But not now. Not anytime soon. Not for this many people.
    And as far as the leafy greens question. I'm sure grain species such as dwarf wheat could work. In the future only electricity will be the limit, but luckily the potential renewable energy resources are vast and by all indications renewable energy will be laughably cheap at some point. Furthermore. Leafy greens could be used additive to bread recipes. Consider spinach bread which now sells for big money because it's tasty and healthy and is seen as a niche health food. There is no reason not to grow a whole lot of spinach vertically and then lower the demand for grain by supplementing bread with some spinach or other highly nutritious leafy greens.
    What about growing leafy greens vertically, above or below the ground specifically for feeding cattle? Cattle are not well adapted to eat only grain. It is a big part of the reason why factory cattle produce more methane than they naturally would. They have permanent indigestion. Adding immensely to the greenhouse gas issue.

  19. 3:09 The company behind the project in Linköping (my home city) mentioned in the video was put in bankrupcy this year. In 9 years they managed to waste over 12 million USD of investor's money and another million of the city's money, without actually having started to build anything at all.

  20. Simply: ever more dependent human beings, creating dependent livestock with reduced living space; questions of health arise, and lifespan increases, but quality of life decreases. Mainly driven by: greed and "What can I get from you, cheapest?"

  21. It does work, for plants, for a vegan based world feeding, integrated with solar, wind, geothermal and other clean energy sources. Definitively doesn't work fir animal farm, with all its inefficiency and needlessness.

  22. Fun fact : People don't always buy cheaper products.
    1. People want to buy best product they can afford, quite often, because of health and taste issues.
    2. People quite often buy products based on the country of origin – Americans want to buy American products, Poles Polish, etc.
    3. People quite often want to build products that are more expensive, if those are enviromentaly friendly, even if there are no other superior qualities in them.
    4. Middle class people, and rich people, often want to buy more expensive products, just because they're more expensive, often buying products of lesser quality for higher price.
    5. Marketing matters. People will more likely buy products of respectable and known brands.

    So price is not the only thing you need to take into account when thinking about competitiveness. Of course it's important, but mostly in countries with large amounts of poor people, that have little money to spend.

  23. Nuclear power would solve the issue of plant factories having a high energy need, since Nuclear power is far, far cleaner than fossil fuels, and safety technology is far more advanced than it used to be. Anyways, what I find really odd is that every video addressing climate change and changing our production for the sake of the enviroment just assumes that fossil fuel companies would be OK with it. Way too much money is safely (for the capitalists, that is) off of fossil fuels and other unclean production methods. They'll waste hundreds of billions and years that we do not have dragging our collective feet as a species. A planned economy is pretty obviously the only way to actually implement any of what we're talking about.

  24. 2:12 until 3:30
    does everyone just plug their ears when this section comes on?
    with words like "highly unlikely" "hard to argue" "cost prohibitive" "considerable energy"
    this whole video reminds me of how ignorant liberals can be…
    Who is the number one polluter of the environment? Government that puts down black top roads. Yet Liberals want bigger government. Its a bit counter intuitive.
    Liberals dream for a more perfect society. It is a worthy goal, the problem is, we can not achieve perfection. It is a pipe dream. The closest we have gotten is the American constitution and even that has flaws, but by no means should we do away with it and write another in its place…
    This video reminds me of people who want to have only wind and solar electricity… oh really? how are you going to make steel?

  25. I give the argument that it might not give that big of a difference since more food usually leads to more mouths to feed and the cycle continues until a breaking point. :))

  26. One thing that I noticed about this video is that they talk about the carbon reduction of forest and carbon enriched environment in the green houses. Agricultural plants use carbon. Corn is especially good at removing carbon from the air.

    When talking about viability of urban ag the type of plant is vital. Not all plants have the same requirements or cost breakdowns. Water usage and shipping costs favor indoor methods. It makes sense to utilize closed systems on plants with high water needs especially in drought stricken areas. Light is easier, cheaper and more environmentally friendly when you use sunlight. Fruit requires lots of light, and pollination. Grain requires full sun, are cheep and easy to ship, store well, and can usually be harvested by machines. Vertical farming is almost all hand operated at present.

    It's not about a quick fix, it is about making an impact and reducing the problem as much as possible

  27. Why do these idiots want to convert productive farmland into forests when there are endless deserts and wastelands that can be turned into forests? The real motive here is political, to concentrate power into big urban centers and to kill the countryside where people can live free.

  28. How about a solar pipe? Shoot the sun straight through a "fiber optic" cable and beam it onto the plants during the day. Saves money, wouldn't it?

  29. bad video! the background music was way too rad. i couldn't concentrate on the contents of the video, because i was jamming too hard to the music

  30. The question is how powerful are those people who would suffer if this was put into a global plan. Not if its gonna work or not 😀 OBVIOUSLY it works, and it's efficient once you pair it with solar technology.

  31. So how much of a pipe dream is this video? Fuck I don't know. Because I won't watch videos with Bullshit thumbnails with lucky charm symbols all over a fake color saturated picture. What are you 12? Sorry but you tube is doing you no favors.

  32. Hydroponics are bad, very bad. Not because it doesn't work, but because it's not connected to the global ecology. Cities are deserts to nature. This method excludes nature as well, thus impoverishes real nature for all space and attention it gets. If our food system is not in interaction with nature, we kill the planet.

  33. This video suggests that our global problem is one of food scarcity and land scarcity. This is simply not the case. The problem is one of food waste. We produce way more food than we require, but instead of distributing the large amount of excess food we produce (which would cost money), we just throw it out while 1/3 of the planet starves. We really really don't need vertical farms. At all. We need more ethical business practices, via regulations, regarding resources (and their markets) that happen to be basic human needs (like food, water, healthcare, housing, etc). Vertical farming is yet another example of a solution that only addresses a symptom of the fundamental problem, i.e. an irresponsible reliance on unmitigated capitalism to solve problems that directly result from relying on unmitigated capitalism to solve all of our problems. Engineering is really interesting and swell and stuff–it makes for fine content on youtube–but no amount of engineering is going to make a capitalistic system favor doing what ought to be done over lowing costs and maximizing profits. Clever engineering is neat, but it's like using a hammer on a screw. Everyone likes hammering a nail more than they like driving in a screw with screwdriver. As actions go, it's just more fun; it's faster; it's more dynamic; it feels better. But at the end of the day, a hammer just won't do the job. It can't. So, instead of trying (stupidly) to figure out how we can somehow use a hammer to properly drive in a screw, let's just use the damn screwdriver already.

  34. Why don't they use skylights.

    You can run a tub with mirrors down to insulate from the outside.

    By not passing the light through glass on the mirror instead vacuum sealing the area the sunlight passes through with true mirrors.
    Energy costs could be lower

  35. when you say that vertical greenhouses could use 10-15% less land, do you mean that the yeild for one acre of vertical greenhouses is the same as about ten ares of regular farmland?

  36. Leafy greens being mostly water do not take a great deal of energy , grow quickly and much of their mass is used.
    Lower-value-per-kg staple crops grow longer before harvest, a smaller part is harvested (wheat seeds, potato tubers, etc.) and so take more energy and tie up capital for longer before producing a smaller return.

    Providing a full range of nutrients artificially is difficult – plants can still grow well while providing lower nutrition for the consumer. Also, plants grown in optimum conditions do not produce salicylates which have been shown to reduce incidence of certain cancers by as much as 60%.

  37. very informative and well put together video, thank you! 😀
    also great sources document you got there, it's really a lot of work!
    some humble feedback: please consider making the music much less intrusive, both by lowering the volume and using it maybe a little less overall. what you talk about is interesting, there doesn't always need to be a background, which can become distracting 😉

  38. Gotta love, you spend 15+min video not once mentioning the quality of the food. At best, this will be the food of the poor.

  39. All these "tech" burns more and more greenhouse gas to produce the energy used to substitute land volume. You didn't mention the most promising experiment yet to food security and proven wildlife conservation – North Korea. The North Koreans proved that food is not really needed. They can easily substitute with fast growing grass blades and dirt. They also easily maintain the demand side of the equation and stopped human expansion into wildlife areas. As proof, satellite images at night show how little energy they use versus the totally lit up rest of the world. Venezuela is following that experiment now and may well be the only South American country with a healthy eco system. We need to vote for the same thing here in the States. Ocasia-Cortez is our best hope.

  40. we need a more radical approach you say?) here is one for you: how about we stop dumping food to keep prices high? let's calculate how much resources and labour we can save if we get rid of overproducing for competition, advertising and warfare costs, shareholders' cut, luxurious government and business spending. why is that always out of the question?

    how about we abolish market economy and go for planned economy instead? with calculated input of resources for calculated output of product to satisfy needs of all people best we can with current and foreseeable tech. and yes, needs can also be summarized, we have the internet for goodness sake 🙂

  41. Yes.
    I have a nice aquaponics system in my yard. For those unfamiliar with aquaponics, it it is the use of fish to fertilize plants. We use 6 vertical growth towers with 4 planters on each tower. Water from the fish tank is pumped up to the top of the tower and trickles down to the bottom and back into the fish tank.

  42. It sounds like this is on the right track, ie. plant factories. The question of how much farm land it can alleviate sounds like it's almost more a question of how many 'doublings' of cost efficiency will it take to make growing something like wheat viable – hence the enhancement of this technology based on what it can already tackle seems to be the core element.

  43. How do they not need pesticides? ……? Generally when you seal the environment you create a haven for both crop…. and pests.

  44. Vertical farming that concentrates its production on low yield low value crops will not be sustainable because the ROI is too low in relation to the costs involved in maintaining the real estate alone. If you want to make a project profitable, you must integrate higher value end product sales into the mix such as processed consumer food items, animal growth and sales, and also pharmaceutical drugs. There are a myriad mix of products and services that can be designed to make a vertical farm profitable. It's the competence of the managing personnel that will determine if such projects will succeed.

  45. But Virtual water is split up in green and blue water . While green is water through rainfall thats Held by the ground and blue is external water. So we also need to See the percentage of green water in beach and every vegetable or crop thats produced.

  46. What if every household had a vertical farm? Perhaps the solution is not to provide but to supply from the comforts of home

  47. These vertical farming designs are not well designed and well engineered and they never combined the basic principles of the Living Machines concept of Professor John Todd nor have they bothered to use the Living Machine concept to create a passive Living Machine concept using self-contained and close-loop food chain cycle ecosystem supported life-supporting agricultural and industrial ecosystems with the use of PARALLEL ASSISTING NICHE ECOSYSTEM to iron out any kinks in the system and to enhance the primary ecosystem itself.

  48. @ 13:35 Say what? $85,000 for shipping container food factory requiring 1% of an acre producing 20% of an acre's worth of produce. Thus 5 units produce 1 acre of crops. So an acres worth ( 100 units ) would cost you 8.5 million dollars. and produce 20 acres of crops. It seems they would need to be stacked vertically to have any chance of being profitable, notwithstanding their cropping frequency would be higher than open farming, so it would in part depend on that aspect.

  49. The future of vertical farming should be family house farming. Especially for sprouts and micro greens. As soon as a decent cheap sprouting machine becomes available and the population educated on health benefits it will explode.
    Since harvest are weekly and grown vertical the sprout machine can be place on top of a refrigerator and still feed 4 family members.
    To farm trees in people house we need to create dwarf trees. That has been done though.
    Wheat and rice are not really needed for survival but it help to get fat.
    Square root sell the containers in 85k. If you think it is the solution you need to be willing to cough up 40 doll per lb of greens.
    And do not worry much by the energy. There way more energy on earth than we will ever need. We just need to learn to use it.

  50. Just wait until water and food supplies get in danger throug for example climat change, than the values of human kind will change rapidly and skyscpaters with food plants will be of high value.

  51. I use aquaponics + a bit of vertical farming. Some plants do very well in towers, others don't. I use basically a pipe standing straight up. I can produce most of my own food this way and trade a lot of the fish for other meats

  52. Every other word in this video is profit. Total corporate control of the food chain is how we got here. We need communal control of the food chain in order to survive climate change. We don't want IKEA owning our food supply. Urban farming is the future not plant factories.

  53. No! It's got no profit, Can you imagine the difference in cost between planting it in the dirt on your land and building a skyscraper to grow indoors? The climate control systems alone would break the bank imo. Let alone all the other major costs and problems this will cause.

  54. The moment we adapt to alternative source of energy other than the sun to light our crops is the moment factory plants will grow like mushrooms in rainy days!

  55. The project in Linköping in Sweden mentioned at 3:10 went bankrupt about a year ago without even starting any construction work. Article in Swedish:

  56. Put plant factories on top of skyscrapers. Put solar panels on top of the factories. Rain water collection systems towards the top. Channel all water into a central point on ground level with a turbine. Runoff water sent to purification, sewage, whatever.

  57. Heres my hot take…

    We need more GMOs. Plants that can grow in the worst of conditions, that use up resources in the most efficient manner possible, that retain most of their nutrition value after going from farm to store to table, that dont decompose as easily or take as long to expire, etc. GMO organisms are the ONLY way I can think of that will enable us to have plant life keep up with our expanding populace and consumption, not to mention the long term climate changes both natural and artificial that could kill them off. Traditional methods of genetic modification like selective breeding will take far too long to achieve results we need, and the fear surrounding it is exaggerated and overblown anyway.

  58. Title is misleading… are we talking about if they work or are we talking about if they are economically viable depending on certain factors like location? Those are hugely different situations to consider in the overall scheme of things. It's like the whole recycling issue, we do a terrible job at recycling because we have not figured out a good economic way to deal with it, however… we should be recycling for the obvious benefits doing so will bring to the environment. But, like everything else… money talks and that is just all that matters right now.

  59. the most efficient designs ive seen is taking or making a shipping container sized little building and using as much renewable methods as possible (they used im assuming drip or hydro, rotated crop im assuming a bit here, and had an air conditioner to control temp, leds to provide growing light, and a dehumidifier to capture the unused moisture in the air while keeping the humidity god enough to grow efficiently*

  60. This form of agriculture is NOT good for one basic important fact that no one is mentioning and that is ……. the minerals absorbed by the plants are minimal. Nutritionally these foods will be extremely deficient. They will not be healthy in any sense of the word. Do not buy them. They will support ignorance and promote the use of more deficient foods. We are starving ourselves nutritionally and this type of "farming" is a part of the starvation.

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