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ICAR-IIHR Arka Vertical Farming Technique for Urban Agriculture

The Arka vertical farming module offers a sustainable, space-efficient, and cost-effective solution for modern farming challenges.

Saurabh Shukla
ICAR-IIHR Arka Vertical Farming Technique for Urban Agriculture (Photo Source: ICAR)
ICAR-IIHR Arka Vertical Farming Technique for Urban Agriculture (Photo Source: ICAR)

The Arka vertical farming module, developed by the ICAR-Indian Institute of Horticulture Research (IIHR), offers a novel approach to the problems associated with urban and peri-urban farming. Developed by Dr. Safeena S. A, Senior Scientist in the Division of Flower and Medicinal Crops at ICAR-IIHR, Bengaluru, this innovative technology promises to transform agricultural practices in densely populated areas.

The Arka vertical garden structure, developed under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana 2022-23, addresses the limitations of space commonly encountered in urban settings. By utilizing vertical space within polyhouses, this structure maximizes yield while minimizing land requirements. Notably, the module boasts a remarkable increase in planting density and yield, particularly demonstrated with Lilium cultivation, where yields have surged by six times compared to traditional methods.

One of the most compelling aspects of the Arka vertical farming module is its sustainable design. By employing a soil-less medium and incorporating a self-watering mechanism, the structure optimizes resource utilization, ensuring efficient water usage and minimal wastage. Moreover, the module is cost-effective, making it accessible to urban farmers with limited financial resources.

The versatility of the vertical garden structure extends beyond its agricultural benefits. Designed to accommodate various types of plants, including vegetables, medicinal herbs, and flowers, it offers a multifunctional solution for diverse gardening needs. Whether placed in sunlit utility areas, balconies, or terraces, the structure provides an accessible platform for individuals keen on urban farming.

At the core of the Arka vertical farming module are three main substructures: the base frame, main central support, and supports for pots/grow bags. This modular design allows for easy customization and adaptation to different plant varieties and growth requirements. Additionally, the structure enables users to exercise control over fertilizer and pesticide usage, promoting safer and healthier produce.

The Arka vertical farming module facilitates optimal plant growth by providing an ideal environment for cultivation. With strategically placed pots/grow bags of varying sizes, it accommodates a wide range of crops, from towering tomato plants to delicate medicinal herbs. Furthermore, the inclusion of a drip irrigation system ensures consistent moisture levels, contributing to higher yields and quality produce.

Despite its advanced features, the Arka vertical farming module remains economically viable for small-scale farmers. With a moderate initial investment of Rs. 22,000, farmers can expect significant returns, with crop yields ranging from 200g to 5kg per cycle. This scalability makes it an attractive proposition for urban dwellers seeking supplementary income or sustainable food sources.

By harnessing innovative technology and design principles, ICAR-IIHR has paved the way for a greener, more resilient future in urban food production. As cities continue to expand, initiatives like the Arka vertical farming module will play a crucial role in ensuring food security and environmental sustainability for generations to come.

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