Agriculture- Indoor farming

Conventional farming is known as open farming, whereby the crops exposed to the air and experience all kinds of environmental factors. However, some herbaceous crops like vegetables are more susceptible to the change in the environmental factors specifically temperature and pests, for instance, locust attacks in Africa that lead to starvation due to the destruction of the crops. Moreover, the growing period of the vegetables to harvest period is relatively short as compared to the fruits of woody trees. Therefore, most of the leafy vegetables are grown and cultivated in a greenhouse and indoor farming using a hydroponic system.

A greenhouse can be referred to as a huge terrarium. Greenhouse, sometimes known as glasshouse is a common alternative and solution for those crops that are easily susceptible to pests and diseases. It can be as small as a rack and up to the size of a house covered up with transparent material. Glasshouse is specifically built with highly transparent and highly durable glass material that allow most of the sunlight to penetrate the chamber and withstand the damages brought by natural disasters such as hail and storm. However, the disadvantage of the glasshouse is the cost of building a glasshouse is relatively high. This is because the production and the cost of the material itself are expensive and it will become much expensive, which including transportation as well as maintenance fee. Therefore, greenhouses nowadays are made of plastic film that acts as a cost-effective replacement for glass.

A greenhouse can be further classified into many types based on its structure or shape that serve different purposes. Generally, it can be an A-shape type, open top with sawtooth or jack roof, gothic or tunnel type, nursery type, and dome type greenhouse. For a greenhouse to function in the temperate country, it needs some greenhouse components such as a heater and cooler to control the temperature for certain crops that prefer certain temperatures which can be programmed with a climate controller. This also used to prevent the crops from wilting by high temperatures in the summer and freezing in the winter. A humidifier is also necessary to provide humidity in an optimal range. Ventilators or circulation fans will also be installed to ensure there is ventilation within the closed chamber. Irrigation and fertigation are the main labor-free helper that helps to water and fertilize the crops through tubing combined with filters, valves, dosing injectors, drippers, and fittings, as well as sprinkles. They usually set with a timer that is called an automated irrigation controller.

Transparency of a greenhouse sometimes is not preferred. This is because the light received by the plants from the sun is not constant throughout the seasons. The sunlight can be “strong” (high intensity) in the summer for longer hours as compared to other seasons. Hence, it can be equipped with shade netting and a thermal screen to reduce the light intensity penetrate the greenhouse. However, to obtain optimal crop production, most greenhouse owners chose to shield the greenhouse from the sun and grow the crops under artificial lighting systems such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and some other high-power lamps. This ensures that the photoperiod of the plants is under controlled and can be adjusted or optimized easily with the research protocols.

A greenhouse can be as big as a house. Thus, many people go for a container instead of a greenhouse. The container is called a cube farm. Solar panels can be installed for both greenhouse and container to utilize solar power to drive the system to save the cost of electricity in the long run. The concept of growing crops in a container is similar to that of a greenhouse. The advantage is the container is cheaper than a complex greenhouse and highly durable to the damage by natural disasters. On the other hand, growing crops in the container is rather limited and smaller scale as compared to the cultivation using a greenhouse. Therefore, this developed another option for indoor farming, which is to use an empty room, shop lot, warehouse, or factory for vertical indoor farming.

Vertical indoor farming is commonly used to grow and produce vegetables such as lettuces on a large scale using a hydroponic system. Vertical indoor farming employs multiple levels of a rack which saved up a lot of space as compared to conventional horizontal farming. The controllers and sensors of indoor farming (greenhouse, container, vertical farming) can be monitored using a remote cloud monitoring system, which is the Internet of Things (IoT). This wireless solution offers simple monitoring through tablets or smartphones. IoT in indoor farming is known as precision growing where it can save up to 90% of the water and 80 % of the fertilizer as compared to conventional farming. The other benefits of having precision growing are to reduce inventory loss through simpler logistic as well as the records of the cultivation are kept automatically for optimization.

Indoor farming is a method of growing crops or plants, usually on a large scale, entirely indoors. This method of farming often implements growing methods such as hydroponics and utilizes artificial lights to provide plants with the nutrients and light at optimal levels required for growth. A wide variety of plants can be grown indoors, but fruits, vegetables, and herbs are the most popular. Practically, the height of the greenhouse and vertical indoor farming can be adjusted based on the height of the fruit trees and the levels of the racks respectively. However, indoor farming still has some limitations for certain crops such as rice. This is because open farming for grains is much cheaper and effective as compared to indoor farming. Therefore, indoor farming, often referred to as indoor gardening can be used on both small and large scales. It can be used for home and commercial purposes, which is an efficient and effective method that involves no soil or less soil without weeds and pests. Due to the isolation of the crops from the external environment, the rate of infections of diseases by pathogens is greatly reduced. Thus, field fumigation is omitted. Besides, indoor farming has popularity in large cities where the plots of land, of any size, are not readily available for growing and farming.

How about a person who has limited land or no yard? Urban farming can be practiced by installing a unit of a vertical wall at home. This vertical wall is suitable for herbs and vegetables. It can function as a wall decoration with different plants. It is one of the modern greens that cultivate the habit of growing their own food at home. The vertical wall starter kit is available online and you can get it with some clicks. Therefore, will you still be worried about the presence of pesticides or herbicides residues if you grow them organically at home?