Thursday, 25 October 2012

Aeroponics and Vertical Farming


Aeroponics and Vertical Farming

What if I told you the world’s population would have reached 10 billion people by 2027, which is double the population of 5 billion in the last decade and that this increase is exponential? You may not think much of this, but statistics informs us that in order to support life on Earth, 80% of the world’s farmable landmass is already in use, with 15% damaged by poor agricultural practices. In the near future, we will be presented with issues such as the infinite demand of fossil fuel and food produce facing the challenge of the world’s finite resources. So what is the solution you may ask? Scientists are currently looking into the viability of aeroponics in aid of vertical farming projects in metropolitan areas.  

Vertical farming is not a new concept at all. Rather, it builds on the idea of greenhouses or indoor farming. It has been calculated that to provide an average person with vegetables, 16 square feet of gardening space is required and in good growing conditions, which is more than that will exist in a city environment. To significantly reduce the size of farmland, scientists are changing the method of nutrient delivery to plants, termed aeroponics, in a form of fine mist. This will reduce water usage by up to 90% compared to a conventional garden. This is significant as 70% of the fresh water available in the world is used for irrigation, which would be contaminated by fertilizers, herbicide and silt. This new method will reduce run-off and nutrients can be recycled and monitored to ensure efficient usage. Moreover, aeroponics will also escalates growth rates by more than 25% as oxygen saturation in air is much higher than that of soil. By increasing the carbon dioxide saturation in the system, an additional 40% markedly increase in growth can also be expected. The increase in CO2 levels will also discourage pest infestations and bacterial contaminations, thereby optimizing yields. 

At the same time, there are many technological breakthroughs in lighting that make vertical farming a more viable solution to food demands in the future. Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are able to provide lighting in a spectrum tailored for maximum plant growth. Interestingly, blue light is used for vegetative growth, while red is used for the growth of flower and fruits. By isolating spectrums, it eliminates excessive heat production, while saving electricity and most importantly, it allows us to place lights much closer to plants. Hence, the idea of vertical farming!  

There is a lot of research that still needs to be done, but as you can imagine, the future of vertical farming, with the aid of aeroponics is enormous. Either through organic produce or through genetically modified produce, the possibilities are endless by harnessing the ability to tightly control the growth environment.

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Aeroponics and Vertical Farming

What if I told you the world’s population would have reached 10 billion people by 2027, which is double the population of 5 billion in the last decade and that this increase is exponential? You may not think much of this, but statistics informs us that in order to support life on Earth, 80% of the world’s farmable landmass is already in use, with 15% damaged by poor agricultural practices. In the near future, we will be presented with issues such as the infinite demand of fossil fuel and food produce facing the challenge of the world’s finite resources. So what is the solution you may ask? Scientists are currently looking into the viability of aeroponics in aid of vertical farming projects in metropolitan areas.  

Vertical farming is not a new concept at all. Rather, it builds on the idea of greenhouses or indoor farming. It has been calculated that to provide an average person with vegetables, 16 square feet of gardening space is required and in good growing conditions, which is more than that will exist in a city environment. To significantly reduce the size of farmland, scientists are changing the method of nutrient delivery to plants, termed aeroponics, in a form of fine mist. This will reduce water usage by up to 90% compared to a conventional garden. This is significant as 70% of the fresh water available in the world is used for irrigation, which would be contaminated by fertilizers, herbicide and silt. This new method will reduce run-off and nutrients can be recycled and monitored to ensure efficient usage. Moreover, aeroponics will also escalates growth rates by more than 25% as oxygen saturation in air is much higher than that of soil. By increasing the carbon dioxide saturation in the system, an additional 40% markedly increase in growth can also be expected. The increase in CO2 levels will also discourage pest infestations and bacterial contaminations, thereby optimizing yields. 

At the same time, there are many technological breakthroughs in lighting that make vertical farming a more viable solution to food demands in the future. Organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) are able to provide lighting in a spectrum tailored for maximum plant growth. Interestingly, blue light is used for vegetative growth, while red is used for the growth of flower and fruits. By isolating spectrums, it eliminates excessive heat production, while saving electricity and most importantly, it allows us to place lights much closer to plants. Hence, the idea of vertical farming!  

There is a lot of research that still needs to be done, but as you can imagine, the future of vertical farming, with the aid of aeroponics is enormous. Either through organic produce or through genetically modified produce, the possibilities are endless by harnessing the ability to tightly control the growth environment.



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