The concept of vertical farming is extremely popular. Architects and engineers have started designing tall buildings intended to function as urban food centers in the attempt to implement vertical farming. Many horticulturists, however, find the concept ludicrous and believe the future of farming is in the suburbs, not skyscrapers.
Horticulturalists envision huge warehouses in the suburbs where electricity and real estate are far cheaper than in urban metropolises. Instead of traditional greenhouses, they envision warehouses illuminated by fluorescent lamps. Known as pinkhouses, thanks to the glowing magenta from the combination of red and blue LEDs, plants are grown stacked in rows up to 50 feet high.
Energy efficient LEDs can be tuned to specific wavelengths, while traditional greenhouse lamps cannot. LEDs can be placed closer to plants because their light is much cooler.
Barry Holtz at Caliber Biotherapeutics is already growing food crops entirely in enclosed rooms. Protected by pets and temperature fluctuations, Holtz has noticed that his plants are extremely healthy. His 150,000 square foot warehouse in Texas grows 2.2 million plants stacked 50 feet high. All the plants are grown under LED light only.
Holz and his cohorts ensure all the lights match the photosynthesis needs of the plants, and as a result, get 20% faster growth while saving energy. He is growing crops to create new pharmaceutcials and vaccines, and the warehouse environment allows him strict control over his every expensive crops. As a result, there is very little contamination and disease.
Experts believe traditional gardening won’t be replaced any time soon. However, they are finding that for specialty crops, pinkhouses may be the way to go. They are efficient, use less electricity, and have the ability to recycle all the water it uses.