With a future forward focus, academics from Harper Adams are keen to test the limits of agriculture in pursuit of additional options to help feed the planet. Vertical farming is one such idea; the practice of vertically stacking crops in monitored environments could help to optimise plant growth without the variables that nature presents.
Harper academics Dr Joe Roberts, Prof Jim Monaghan, Dr Tom Pope, Prof Simon Leather and Dr Andrew Beacham worked alongside colleagues from Keele University, offering a scientific perspective of vertical farming, considering its strengths and weaknesses.
In their work, the team have highlighted the challenges posed by this new method of farming, particularly for managing pests and disease. Collectively, they recommend that further research be undertaken, allowing them to calculate the practicality of implementing this new practice into the sector.
Dr Roberts said: “Vertical farming is certainly an interesting approach to crop production, but we believe further research is required to understand how best to protect crops grown in these systems from pests and diseases as there is little information available.
“Like many other technology-based industries, this is an area with a lot of entrepreneurial interest and investment, but it would benefit from increased independent research and standardisation in production methods to fully determine its potential.”
Could this be the future of the agricultural industry? To read the paper first published in Annals of Applied Biology, please click here.