We are currently discovering the immense potential that Vertical Farming holds for agriculture. However, as much as we like to discuss all benefits, Vertical Farming has some shortcomings as well.
Let’s kick it off with a big one, the energy consumption.
Controlled Environment Agriculture assumes an environment that is digitally controlled to simulate optimal growing conditions for crops all day and night. This means artificial lighting, air conditioning/heating and running lots of technology. Energy use is currently the number one issue that prevents Vertical Farming to be more sustainable than traditional agriculture, and it implies a large start-up cost for new companies.
Since crops are grown using special technology and complex growing techniques, a highly skilled workforce is needed to keep the farms operational. Employing a highly educated individuals implies high salary costs and a smaller labour market. There is also a problem with dependence on technology. If one of the systems in a vertical farm is down, the whole harvest may be lost. It is therefore essential to regularly check if systems are prone to malfunction or not.
A last remark is that pollinating plants are very difficult to grow in a vertical farm. Since there is no connection to the outside world. the plants would have to be manually pollinated to grow. This requires a lot of work, which again implies higher costs.
It remains however important to stress that Vertical Farming has huge upside potential, and that these are merely challenges that are there to overcome.