Is there something in common between the new ways of meat production and farming crops?

Yes, of course. Both aim to establish more sustainable routines. In Ethicameat’s blog we analyze a phenomenon that, like cultivated meat, is called to play a leading role in the future of food: vertical farming. An innovative way to save water and soil.

Vertical farming is an innovative cultivation technique that consists of producing food on vertically sloping surfaces. Versus traditional agriculture, instead of growing vegetables and other foods at one level on the ground in a field or greenhouse, under this method they are produced in layers arranged in height, stacked on top of each other. It is usually carried out in large structures such as warehouses or industrial containers.

But does this new mode of cultivation have any advantages in terms of saving resources? The answer is yes. The objective of vertical farming is to maximize crop production in a limited space and in addition to save soil surface, water, and emissions. According to UN estimates, the world’s population will reach 9.7 billion people in 2050, which means that current food production will have to be intensified by 70% to cover global food needs. All this will be an increasing challenge in the context of the climate emergency and the level of deforestation in which we find ourselves.

The large-scale city garden

Vertical farming goes one step further than city gardens, increasingly common in homes and common spaces in large cities: the industrial-scale cultivation of local food, without pesticides and whose production does not generate emissions. Furthermore, from the consumer’s point of view, the purchase of fruit and vegetables are grown nearby by new techniques such as vertical farming can reduce emissions generated by transport and the supply chain as well. Vertical farming is one of the lines of research of the “Mediterranean Horticulture” group of the Polytechnic University of Cartagena, led by Professor Juan Fernández, which is trying to analyze the technology involved in this cultivation technique and also its profitability challenges.

The keys of vertical farming

It looks like science fiction but it’s real. Vertical crops rely on three key systems: hydroponics, aeroponics, and sometimes aquaponics. Through hydroponics, plants consume nutrients through the water distributed in their roots. In this way, plants receive a combination of mineral salts diluted in drinking water for their development without the need for soil.

Through aeroponics, the stems and roots of the plants, suspended in the air, are mechanically sprayed with a nutritive liquid. This technique is ideal for leaf crops such as coriander, rocket, lettuce or watercress.

Finally, one option sometimes applied in vertical farming is aquaponics, which introduces aquatic animals such as fish, snails or crabs into water so that their secretions serve as nutrients for plants.

In addition to the advantages mentioned above, it should be noted that the development of plants is faster, and crops can be produced throughout the year and in any place without depending on the weather conditions. Also, pest control of crops is easier and the use of fertilizers is not necessary. At the moment the great challenge is to advance in the sustainable generation of electric energy through LED lighting that vertical agriculture requires.

More sustainable, safe and quality food

Like all those who are already betting on vertical agriculture, Ethicameat works on the development of cultured meat to achieve a complementary alternative to traditional livestock farming that contributes to reduce the environmental impact. The objective of vertical agriculture and cultivated meat is to rely on innovation and technology to provide the food industry with more sustainable, safe, and quality products for the consumer. The consumer will soon have within reach a healthy and sustainable meat alternative of animal origin. Livestock farming consumes 25% of the planet’s freshwater and land and accounts for 15% of greenhouse gases. Our form of production consumes 99% less land, 75% less water and reduces emissions by 90% compared to a similar meat product. The future of sustainable food is getting closer!