More than three hectares and a water saving of 95% compared to a conventional farm, this is the crazy promise of Bustanica, the largest vertical garden in the world, located in Dubai.
When we think of Dubai, we often think of extravagance and excess. However, here, we are not talking about a record-breaking skyscraper or a ski slope in a shopping mall, but about an initiative that is gradually revolutionizing the way we think about food production: vertical farms!
This one is called Bustanica – which means “your garden”, or “your orchard”, in Arabic – and is located a few blocks away from Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport. Its objective: is to produce large quantities of vegetables, avoid the difficulties of cultivation in the Emirates, and, incidentally, reach levels of efficiency and savings that exceed those of conventional gardens.
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To achieve this, no expense has been spared! A huge facility, covering about 30,600 m2 on three floors, has been designed to produce more than a thousand tons of vegetables a year – 3,000 kilos a day – with a system that saves land, energy and water.
Operated by Emirates Crop One, the vertical farming arm of the giant Emirates Group, Bustanica activated its first facility with the support of a substantial investment, to say the least: about $40 million.
A state-of-the-art methodology
The promise is based on the hydroponic method: vegetables grow without soil. Emirates claims it is also the largest farm of its kind, replacing agricultural land with mineral solutions. All this is without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and other fungicides, which are now decried by most consumer associations. Water, the most precious commodity in the region, is precisely controlled and treated before being used in a closed circuit to avoid excessive consumption. Thus, if 317 liters are invested in each kilo of vegetables grown using the traditional method, its hydroponic solution will require only 15 liters. In concrete terms, this means saving more than 250 million liters of water and about 1,000 MW of energy each year.