Modernity means that you no longer need to live in the countryside to get yourself an agricultural job. Technological advances have given us energy-efficient and highly productive methods to produce healthy crops indoors. The practice of growing crops inside buildings is often termed urban farming or vertical farming.
Vertical farming is an expanding, technology-intensive system for producing high-quality food at a commercial level. For those seeking exciting horticultural jobs which will quickly bloom into a career, then vertical farming could be for you. With a range of different roles from selling produce to tending plants, it is a truly dynamic and varied industry.
What is vertical farming exactly?
As the world population grows, there is an increasing demand for sustainable, nutrient dense, and tasty food, hence, agriculture becomes increasingly important for keeping the world fed and healthy. With growing urbanisation, valuable farmland is becoming scarcer and food production requires more ingenious ways to increase yields. Conventional crops have four characteristics:
- They are only grown on one level aka the ground.
- Plants are constricted to being grown in soil.
- Crops are bombarded by disease.
- Crops are battered by unfavourable weather.
Vertical farming attempts to change this and, in the process, revolutionise farming with the latest in technology.
Vertical farms are layers upon layers of crops stacked on top of one another, either inside a warehouse or large building. UV-LED lights are used to mimic sunlight and soils are replaced with a water-based alternative like hydroponics, aquaponics or aeroponics. Everything is controlled, down to the last detail; the UV lamps give crops a cloudless summers day – every day; water-based mediums control precise levels of oxygen and nutrients; and pests and disease can easily be controlled.
Although this new type of farming has many benefits for food production, it also has its problems with farming outside doesn’t have. For instance, large scale vertical farming can be financially costly; pollination is difficult; and it is highly reliant on technology for advances in productivity.
To overcome the challenges in this high tech, highly industrial setup, urban farms require proactive, tech-savvy and entrepreneurial employees. Perfect for those seeking a graduate job or a highly technical job.
Opportunities in Vertical Farming
Vertical farming is still in its infancy since it is highly limited by leaps and bounds in technological advances. However, the industry has much to offer those wishing to plant themselves at the forefront of the worlds agriculture revolution.
Vertical farming jobs can take you all over the world, mostly to bustling cities of the world with a high density of tech start-ups. The great thing is that these businesses usually have small teams of people offering an eclectic mix of business and science skills. Hence, opportunities span from: horticultural jobs tending plants; technical jobs, ensuring everything from lights to filtration systems are running properly; to sales jobs looking to find consistent buyers of high-quality produce.
Since it is a growing market, said to be worth $13billion dollars by 2024, and you can be assured that your career will grow and develop with you. By no means will vertical farming to supersede conventional farming, but it certainly has a future role to play in sustainable food production.
There are numerous ways to break into a job in vertical farming. Conventionally, they require you to undertake an internship for you to gain a hold on how things are run. But after your initial stint, those working on the horticultural jobs can expect salaries of around £21,000. For those seeking management jobs, you should expect more.
Many vertical farming jobs require a science degree, but in this industry, experience is key. You can approach it from many routes. If you have experience in horticulture or working in a greenhouse, this is equally valuable experience to show off to employers. Additionally, those with a degree in computer science or electrical engineering will also have valuable experience to bring to the sector. You may be lucky in finding an opportunity which doesn’t require a degree, however, you should expect your salary to be lower.
If you’re shooting for the business side of things then of course a business-type degree is sought after. Marketing, business management, or sales degrees are a must for those seeking to sell quality produce to local consumers. You may find yourself selling to high-cuisine restaurants or to local artisan grocers.
Vertical farming is where computing, biological science and business collide, so those who can excel at one or more of these subjects would be well suited to life in the future of food production.
The future of vertical farming
Growing food inside is becoming a novel new way of supplying cities with locally produced vegetables. At the moment, only leafy greens like kale, spinach and herbs can be grown to produce a sustainable business model. Grains, potatoes and other starch crops are not financially viable in urban farms . . . yet.
But vertical farms are thirsty for electricity. Powering rows and rows of UV-LED lamps consumed electricity generated from fossil fuels, however, with the introduction and expansion of renewable technologies we can expect that, in the future, vertical farms will be carbon-neutral. Moreover, the world’s fresh water supplies are overexploited and at risk from a climate change; vertical farming uses 95% less water than conventional farms growing the same crops.
Vertical farms will play an important role in the sustainable supply of food to a growing population. Moreover, these crops are healthy and nutrient dense, which is equally important to preventing deficiency and ensuring a healthier population.
Whilst vertical farms will not replace conventional farms, this is a growth industry with potential for those seeking a rewarding career in the world of agricultural jobs. Farmers aren’t just outside driving a tractor or quad bike, they are also now inside embracing the precision of a scientific laboratory. Those wanting to push boundaries of farming will feel at home on a vertical farm.
If you are looking for a new job or to progress your career, Agricultural Recruitment Specialists are worldwide recruitment experts in agricultural, food, farming and rural recruitment and have a variety of executive and management positions available within agriculture, horticulture and the food and rural sectors throughout the UK and the rest of the world. To find out more about our agricultural job vacancies and discuss your future career, contact our team of agricultural recruitment professionals. You can visit our website here: www.agriRS.co.uk or call our team on: 01905 345 155 or email us at: info@agriRS.co.uk
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