With very little land available for agriculture, Singapore is importing most of its food. To relieve this dependence, new techniques now enable the local production of vegetables through vertical farms. Thanks to this innovative system, Singaporeans enjoy “home-grown”, environment-friendly and fresher green products.
Optimizing land use with vertical agriculture
The scarcity of land available for agriculture in Singapore forces the country to import more than 90% of its food. Doing so, fresh products loose some of their qualities, and transports create pollution. There is therefore a strong interest in Singapore to obtain fresher products that could also help preserve the environment while reducing the dependence on foreign food imports.
Responding to this need, Jack Ng and his company Sky Greens have created a new innovative system to grow vegetables locally in a rotating system of racks. This system allows to multiply the productivity of cultivated soil per square meter (or square foot) by ten compared to regular agriculture.
The vertical farm system
A low-consumption water wheel drags a chain of rotating racks up in an aluminium greenhouse tower where the plants get exposure to the sun. At the bottom of the tower, the racks periodically dip into a water basin that contains the adequate mix of nutrients for the plants. Therefore plants do not need watering from above.
Water from the basins is recycled and filtered back into the system, enabling important economies of fresh water. Combined with the low consumption of electricity of the water wheels, together with the reduced need for workers and chemicals, vertical farms greatly reduces the need for resources in comparison to traditional agriculture.
Support from the government and the population
Sky Greens has strong plans for development in Singapore and abroad, as available space near cities vanishes every day faster. It is supported by the Singaporean government which hopes to reduce its reliance on foreign food imports and transport pollution thanks to this clean, efficient, healthier and sustainable way of producing food.
The Singaporean consumers are also receiving locally grown products with enthusiasm. Though prices are competitive, they are a little higher than imported vegetables. Nevertheless, consumers are ready to pay a little more to obtain fresher products that reduce CO2 emissions in the city-state.
Video from September 2013 by Journeyman Pictures