Modular Farming: Adaptable Solutions for Urban Agriculture
It is estimated that 56% of the world’s population live in cities, a trend that is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. This growing urbanization has presented unique challenges to the agricultural world, and places a tremendous pressure on resources, food production and distribution. Agricultural experts are continually looking for ways to address these issues, and one solution that has been gaining in popularity is modular farming.
What is Modular Farming?
Modular farming is an approach to agriculture that involves the use of modular and scalable systems to cultivate a wide variety of crops. These crops are grown inside of compact, self-contained units that can be moved or stacked, and they do not need access to soil or sunlight. Instead, modular farms rely on technology like hydroponics, which grow plants using a water-based nutrient system.
As the needs of a plant inside of a modular farm can be customized, these farms can grow many kinds of plants all in one unit. You can also place a modular farm anywhere, as outside climate and access to land do not affect the farm. For this reason, modular farms are becoming increasingly more popular in urban environments.
Benefits of Modular Farming
Modular farming offers numerous benefits for an urban area. These farms are designed to make the most of limited space, stacking growing units on top of one another and allowing for high crop yields in a small area. Being able to grow produce without the need for land is critical for cities and helps to increase the city’s self-sufficiency. As the environment inside of the unit is controlled, crop production can happen year-round, which maximizes productivity and opens the door to being able to farm anywhere, regardless of the climate of the area.
Modular farming can also have an environmental impact. These farms minimize energy and water consumption and use technologies that offer precise measurements and reduce waste. Some modular farms even employ systems that allow for water to be recirculated. As these farms are occurring indoors in controlled environments, the need for pesticides also decreases.
Challenges of Modular Farming
While there is huge potential for modular farms in urban areas, this trend is not without its challenges. Controlling the environment in these units can be difficult and require the right equipment and technical expertise. Because of this, setting up a modular farm can be expensive. Getting the right lighting and climate control can also end up requiring more energy, thus negating any environmental impact the farm set out to make. Modular farms must also work with city regulations and zoning laws, and this can present a barrier in certain areas.
Agricultural experts are looking for solutions to maximize space, minimize resource consumption, increase food production, and reduce the environmental footprint of farming. If a modular farm can overcome the initial barriers to get started, it can provide significant benefits to urban areas. Modular farms’ adaptability, resource efficiency, and ability to engage local communities offer a tremendous solution for addressing the challenges of urban agriculture in a rapidly urbanizing world.