Saturday, August 15, 2015

Science Saturday: Vertical Farming

Hydroponic farming: it's not just for marijuana anymore!
There is a small part of me that is a weirdo futurist, and one of the things I'm really excited for in the future is vertical farming. A shockingly small percentage of the world's land surface is actually arable, so anything to maximize growing potential (whether through GMOs, oh I went there, or better fertilizers, or what have you) is going to be key for humanity's continued existence on the planet.

But even so, much of what little arable land we have is far away from major population centers. Transportation costs play a large role in the final price you end up paying at the store, no matter where you do your food shopping. Vertical farming in urban centers (like this one planned for Newark, NJ) could dramatically cut the financial cost and carbon footprint of your favorite fruits and veggies, and make them more affordable and easier to access for the people who need them most.

Of course, vertical farming isn't a closed system. All of the energy used to manage the light, temperature, and irrigation systems has to come from somewhere, so much of the potential good is undermined if it's still running on coal. But imagine these, all running on solar energy, in every major population center...!

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