Natural Farming and Vertical Gardening: Innovative Approaches to Produce Health-Giving Food, Improve Air Quality and Aesthetics
People have been trying ways to produce food enough to supply the needs of an ever-growing population. This becomes a much more significant issue considering that fertile land is gradually being lost to other economic uses and many agricultural land are already degraded due to unsustainable farming practices. Aside from this, there were health concerns about the agricultural products as many of those produced are laced with toxic pesticides from insecticidal sprays during flower formation to fruit-bearing stages, then finally during product sale which calls for preservatives to lengthen its shelf life. These concerns call for alternative food production techniques without the limitations imposed by land fertility and space.
Hydroponics, Organic Farming and Natural Farming
There are many approaches to counter the problems associated with limited space available for food production, lack of fertile land or health effects due to pesticides in agricultural products. Among these approaches are hydroponics, organic farming and natural farming.
Hydroponics does not need a lot of space to grow plants. Wikipedia defined hydroponics as a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in a substance that does not react chemically such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk.
Problems of pesticide use find hope in organic farming as this farming technique emphasize the use of locally available organic materials to provide the needed nutrient input for plant growth. Organic farming, however, is still a high input approach in growing agricultural crops so natural farming appears to be the best farming approach.
Some of the important facts about natural farming are written in this site as well as ways on how to start off with it in the list of articles below:
Few people are aware of a new approach to growing plants in an unconventional way, and that is through the vertical gardening technique. The convention to grow crops is to plant them on flat, horizontal land. Vertical gardening, on the other hand, advocates planting crops vertically, inspired by observations of the behavior of plants growing in an upward direction in steep slopes and even on rock surfaces.
The vertical garden, also known as the living wall, was pioneered by Patrick Blanc, a botanist. This overrides the limitations imposed by horizontal space, as vertical space is virtually unlimited. The facade of buildings can be made to grow ornamental plants to improve its appearance while providing the capacity to filter pollutants from the air through the carbon- or suspended air pollutant-sequestration function of plants.
A building proudly shows ornamental plants grown vertically (Image Source)
Growing plants indoors using the technique can offer great benefits. According to a NASA study, those plants in your office or home are not only decorative, but are surprisingly useful in absorbing potentially harmful gases and cleaning the air inside modern buildings.
Plants grown indoors enhance air pollutant removal (Image Source)
Crops can also be grown in structures oriented vertically such as GI roofing sheets folded to contain soil or material that serve as substrate. This can be prepared by perforating the GI roofing sheets (preferably coated with plastic) with holes about four inches in diameter spaced at about a foot or so, folding the corrugated sheet lengthwise and riveting them together at both ends. This will be filled up with fertile soil or similar material about one-fourth of the way then a three-inch PVC pipe placed at the center to serve as water source (again perforated to allow water to pass through) then filled up to almost the rim. Vegetables like lettuce can then be planted in the perforated holes. Water is infused in the system through the PVC pipe.
A vertical garden can also be built using wood. Wikihow provides detailed instructions on how to build a vertical garden using redwood or cedar.
Combining the ideas of natural farming and vertical gardening can be a big boost to food production which will get over the problem of cramped space and use of harmful pesticides in growing plants or crops.