Hydroponic Farming: Why the Future of Food Is Indoors
Hydroponic farming needs a fraction of the water and space needed
to grow crops compared to conventional farming.
Hydroponics could help meet the world’s growing food pressure.
There are about 7.5 billion people on the face of the planet. With every new person born, there’s a new mouth to feed.
In just a few decades, we might just hit a Full-Earth scenario.
By 2100, the global population will be around 11 billion. To feed this many people, we need 0.22 hectares of cultivated land on average per person. That gives us 2.4 billion hectares. Currently, there are 1.5 billion hectares of cultivated land in the world. So, we need about 1 billion more hectares of farmland, roughly the size of the United States.
That’s not even thinking about all of the water needed to irrigate these crops and the strain this will put on the world’s water resources.
Besides being unfeasible, it’s just an unsustainable model that we used and tested for a very long time.
Hydroponic farming is another method that allows growing plants to not only meet quantity needs but also quality standards.
Indoor Hydroponic Farms: no Soil, no Pesticides, and Very Little Water
If hydroponic farming sounds futuristic, the concept itself is about as old as agriculture with many instances of hydroponic farms throughout history and civilizations.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is the first known example of hydroponic farming. The Aztec built chinampas, floating farms that used hydroponic systems.
Hydroponics is basically an irrigation system that allows growing plants without soil.
Leveraging robotics and data analytics, many companies are taking indoor hydroponic farming to levels never before reached.
One such company is Bowery Farming, a startup founded in 2014 in New York that specializes in indoor farming.
The company claims its farming system to be 100 times more productive than traditional farming while using 95% less water and zero pesticides.
A combination of tech solutions enable Bowery to produces a wide variety of crops, twice as fast, and take them to market within a few days after harvest.
Irving Fain, Bowery CEO and co-founder, told Clean Technica:
“BoweryOS, our proprietary software system, uses vision systems, automation technology, and machine learning to monitor plants and all the variables that drive their growth 24/7, while combining software and automation with industrial process management to optimize production, fulfillment and distribution. By applying proprietary machine learning algorithms to millions of points of data collected by an extensive network of sensors and cameras.”
Because indoor farms offer a closed and controlled environment for greens to grow, there’s more to these products than just their little resources requirements.
They are safer to eat because controlled environment technology minimizes the risk of contamination from different sources, like animal waste, water, or irrigation run-off.
In the case of Bowery products, because they control “the entire process from seed to store, our greens aren’t matriculated through large distribution and fulfillment centers that often lead to additional exposure to contaminants”.
Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.