I’ve seen the Future and Vertical Farming is It
Vertical Farming, or more definitive, Vertical Hydroponic Organic Urban Farming is coming to a town near you. Or it should be, in my opinion. Yes, I know I’ve been on a farming bender lately with my blog, but hey, after air and water, food is pretty important to staying alive.
Even though I currently reside in a condo and don’t currently fancy myself possessing a green thumb unless it’s from paint, thanks to my mother and grandfather et al, I’ve got farmer’s blood in me. And it is true that I’ve always been into quality food, health and nutrition.
Before I get into the cool pics and advantages of Vertical Farming, I need to bring up something else about our relationship with . . .
Now of course, this ties in directly to the elephant in the room many people try to avoid confronting. And that is the horrendously unhealthy typical American diet and its catastrophic effect on the out-of-control health care in this country. Wait, we’re still calling this Health Care? More like Disease Management.
It’s the quality of food we eat – mostly processed and devoid of enzymes and basic nutrients in adequate levels. It’s the quantity too – most of us eat way too much food, much of it garbage.
It’s also when we eat. Too many people skip breakfast or think a cup of joe is a sufficient breakfast. This is followed by eating the biggest meal of the day at dinnertime – often much too late in the evening.
Finally, lack of quality fresh food, effective, bio-available nutritional supplements, and eating while under time stress and other stresses creates the inability to absorb and digest what we DO end up shoving in our mouths.
Artists Conceptions Gallery
There are a myriad of ‘pie in the sky’ artist conceptions and designs.
Perhaps a smaller model would be more easily created in a shorter amount of time.
Here’s a few interesting ideas:
Advantages of Vertical Farming
|Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)|
|No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests|
|All VF food is grown organically: no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers|
|VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water|
|VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services|
|VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface|
|VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of
|VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edible
parts of plants and animals
|VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)|
|VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers|
|VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers|
|VF creates new employment opportunities|
|We cannot go to the moon, Mars, or beyond without first learning to farm indoors on
|VF may prove to be useful for integrating into refugee camps|
|VF offers the promise of measurable economic improvement for tropical and subtropical
LDCs. If this should prove to be the case, then VF may be a catalyst in helping to reduce or even reverse the population growth of LDCs as they adopt urban agriculture as a strategy for sustainable food production.
|VF could reduce the incidence of armed conflict over natural resources, such as water
and land for agriculture
As the world’s population has already surpassed 6 billion and billions more on the way, before we know it the traditional soil-based farming model developed over the last 12,000 years will no longer be a sustainable option.
Irrigation of crops uses 70 percent of the fresh water that we use. The excess agricultural runoff, contaminated with silt, pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, is unfit for reuse.
VF food production will take advantage of hydroponic and aeroponic technologies. Both methods are soil-free. Hydroponics allows us to grow plants in a water-and-nutrient solution, while aeroponics grows them in a nutrient-laden mist. These methods use far less water than conventional cultivation techniques, in some cases as much as 90 percent less.
For every indoor acre farmed, some 10 to 20 outdoor acres of farmland can return to their original ecological state (mostly hardwood forest).
A vertical farm will behave like a functional ecosystem, in which waste is recycled and the water used in hydroponics and aeroponics is recaptured by dehumidification and used over and over again. The technologies needed to create a vertical farm are currently being used in controlled-environment agriculture facilities but have not been integrated into a seamless source of food production in urban high-rise buildings.
High rises aren’t the only structures that could house vertical farms. Farms of various sizes and crop yields could be built into a variety of urban settings — from schools, restaurants and hospitals to the upper floors of apartment complexes. By supplying a continuous quantity of fresh vegetables and fruits to city dwellers, these farms will help combat health problems, like Type II diabetes and obesity.
Vertical farming can finally put an end to agricultural runoff, a major source of water pollution.
City dwellers will also be able to breathe easier – literally. Vertical farms will bring a great concentration of plants into cities. These plants will absorb carbon dioxide produced by automobile emissions and give off oxygen in return
One estimate for proof of concept: constructing a five-story farm, taking up one-eighth of a square city block, will cost $20 million to $30 million.
An actual indoor farm developed at Cornell University growing hydroponic lettuce was able to produce as many as 68 heads per square foot per year. At a retail price in New York of up to $2.50 a head for hydroponic lettuce, you can see how profitable this and other similar crops can be.