A new urban development in Dubai is introducing vertical farming that uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods.
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In Dubai, up to 80 percent of vegetables are imported from other countries. Badia Farms is looking to change that.
Most of the produce used in Dubai has to be flown in from an average of over 3000 miles. This not only adds significantly to the carbon footprint of most dishes, but it also means the freshness of the produce is compromised. To overcome this issue, Badia Farms is introducing hydroponic farming techniques to the area. Hydroponics is a method of cultivating plants indoors without the use of soil. The plants are instead cultivated in containers along with a nutrients mix designed to maximize growth rate and quality. As each individual plant is given a micro-lot of nutrients to grow in, all plants can be placed uniformly in trays. They are then stacked up to twenty levels high along walls, hence the name ‘vertical farms’.
The vertical farms are subjected to highly controlled water levels and light. LED lighting provides the solar energy required for growth. This again maximizes the process by ensuring there are no cloudy days to slow growth rates down. The closely monitored plants are then picked for taste, and delivered straight to the restaurants, providing much fresher produce. The whole process results in a vastly reduced environmental impact. The method uses 90 percent less water than traditional farming and much less space. The plants produced, include kale, cress, and mustard, among others. Furthermore, the plants are non-GMO and pesticide free, and will be delivered to restaurants for use on the day they were picked for a high quality dining experience.
With increasing land aridification combining with an expanding urban sprawl into non-farmable land, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more innovations like the Badia Farms project. Following on from other examples including app-controlled vertical farms for the home and mobile farms on bikes in Beijing, where else could we see hydroponic farms cropping up?