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The Future of Vertical Farming: Five Advantages of Soil-based agriculture over Hydroponics

Updated: Mar 15, 2023



Vertical Farming is the future, but which form should it take? Hydroponics has gained popularity as a way to grow plants in a controlled environment. However, research suggests that soil-based agriculture is a better option for growing healthy and nutrient-rich crops. Let's explore Five Big Reasons to back soil-based agriculture over hydroponics.


Nutrient Density: Several studies have found that soil-based agriculture produces crops with higher nutrient density than hydroponics. In one study, researchers found that soil-grown strawberries had significantly higher levels of antioxidants and other important nutrients than hydroponically-grown strawberries (Olsson et al., 2004).


Environmental Impact: Soil-based agriculture is a more environmentally sustainable option than hydroponics. Soil-based agriculture does not require the use of energy-intensive systems, such as artificial lighting or climate control, and also avoids the waste associated with hydroponic systems (Barbosa et al., 2015).


Microbial Diversity: Soil-based agriculture has been shown to have a greater diversity of beneficial microbes, which can improve soil health and plant growth. In one study, researchers found that soil-based agriculture had significantly higher levels of microbial diversity than hydroponics, which had a relatively low number of beneficial microbes (Hartmann et al., 2009).


Disease Resistance: Soil-based agriculture has been shown to be more resistant to disease and pests than hydroponics. In one study, researchers found that soil-based agriculture had a lower incidence of plant disease than hydroponics, which was attributed to the presence of beneficial microbes in the soil (López-Gálvez et al., 2017).


Nutrient Cycling: Soil-based agriculture allows for the cycling of nutrients and organic matter back into the soil, which can improve plant health and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers.


With so much research suggesting that soil-based agriculture is a great option for growing healthy and nutrient-rich crops, there is a lack of soil-based vertical farming solutions. The diversity of beneficial microbes, disease resistance, and nutrient cycling associated with soil-based agriculture create a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system. While hydroponics may be useful in certain contexts, it is clear that soil-based agriculture is under-utilized in forward-looking vertical farming solutions. To learn more about our soil-based vertical farming solution, click here.


Sources:


Barbosa, G. L., Gadelha, F. D. A., Kublik, N., Proctor, A., Reichelm, L., Weissinger, E., ... & Halden, R. U. (2015). Comparison of land, water, and energy requirements of lettuce grown using hydroponic vs. conventional agricultural methods. International journal of environmental research and public health, 12(6), 6879-6891.


Hartmann, M., Frey, B., Mayer, J., Mäder, P., & Widmer, F. (2009). Distinct soil microbial diversity under long-term organic and conventional farming. The ISME Journal, 3(5), 567-576.


López-Gálvez, F., Gil, M. I., & Allende, A. (2017). Impact of relative humidity, inoculum carrier and size, and native microbiota on Salmonella ser. Typhimurium survival in baby lettuce. Food microbiology, 63, 179-185.


Olsson, M. E., Gustavsson, K. E., & Vågen, I. M. (2004). Antioxidant levels and inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by extracts from organically and conventionally cultivated strawberries. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(5), 1248-1255.

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