“If there is a future, it will be Green.” -- Petra Kelly
Population explosion and climate change are presenting never-before-seen challenges for meeting worldwide food demands.
The modern system of soil-based agriculture is unsustainable according to current population growth rates and diminishing space for farming. Thankfully, hydroponics -- AKA controlled-environment agriculture -- offers an array of dynamic solutions including innovative repurposing of urban spaces, efficient use of water, elimination of shipping costs and increased productivity.
Farm for the Future
Vertical farming is a revolutionary idea being implemented in several cities across the globe. The term describes an indoor growing facility that is over one story tall. One such building is known as Pasona Urban Farm in Tokyo and is working proof of the benefits of hydroponics. The results being achieved could lay the groundwork for a global solution to climate change, spatial limitations and other factors that affect cumulative agricultural harvests. Indoor growing facilities such as this and others in Singapore, Michigan, New Jersey, California and Chicago’s O’hare Airport are rendering 50 to 100 times the yield of traditional plots of soil of the same square acreage. These urban farm facilities are capable of such high production volume due to the fact that crops can be grown year-round using conveyor belt-like assemblies and space-efficient plant racks that maximize the available cubic space.
Get Smart with Water
Currently, 80% of the planet’s farmable soil is being used for agriculture to feed a population that is projected to increase from 7.5 to over 10 billion people by the end of the century. Meanwhile, 70% of the available freshwater worldwide is already being used for growing soil-based crops. This poses not only the question of where to farm for the future, but how to hydrate agricultural yields that will have to nearly double in size. Another benefit of hydroponics is that an indoor growing system can achieve up to 90% greater efficiency of water usage. This is because soilless indoor farming systems allow plants to nourish their roots with far less water than traditional systems. Controlled-environment agriculture also enables indoor farmers to recycle
evaporating moisture rather than allowing it to escape into the atmosphere.
Grow Where Food is Needed
Vertical farming and indoor growing systems also eliminate some of the major costs of food distribution by cutting transportation out of the equation. Abundant amounts of food can be grown adjacent to arid urban areas that normally would not sustain soil-based agriculture. Harvesting crops in proximity to where they will be eaten also increases the amount of nutrients available to the consumer. Also, freshly-harvested produce tastes distinctively better than food that has been frozen and/or in transit for a long period of time.
As the world’s population increases, so too do the demands for more efficient, eco-friendly ways to grow food. By growing your own food at home with an indoor, hydroponic, controlled-environment system, you can lead by example while enjoying the many benefits of fresh, homegrown produce.
By Luke Schmaltz