Vertical Farms? Still Waiting, But Concepts Abound
More than sixty years ago, in Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth's 1952 classic The Space Merchants described a kind of vertical farm; a "Chlorella plantations" which was used to grow greenery for food.
…the Chlorella plantation, a towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky. There were mirrored louvers at each tier. Surrounding the big building were acres of eye-stabbing glare. I realized that this was more mirrored louvers to catch the sun, bounce it off more mirrors inside the tiers, and onto the photosynthesis tanks. It was a spectacular, though not uncommon, sight from the air.
I'm afraid it's still science fiction, but true believers haven't given up.
(Vertical farming concept)
When I spoke to Dickston Despommimer, coiner of the phrase “vertical farming”, about his ideas last year, it became clear that his obsession with farming in cities actually springs from an obsession with places that aren’t cities. He calculated that, to match the world's 3bn population increase projected by 2050, we’d need an extra patch of farmland bigger than Brazil. Yet in regions where agriculture could expand, such as Africa, yields are low, and creating more farmland would require carbon-producing deforestation: essentially, it would take a massive toll on the environment, and wouldn’t even produce that much food.
Add to this the fact that some of our most productive farmland in India and the US lies in areas likely to be affected by climate change, and we’ve got a real problem on our hands. Despommier hopes that if the concepts behind Vertical Farming come into widespread use, ecosystems across the world could be saved from conversion into farmland.
So Despommier and his students kept working on the idea, and putting their ideas online. “When you put anything on the internet, it runs the risk of being shot down by naysayers. But just the opposite happened,” he tells me. Enthusiastic fans sent in their own fantastical designs, “most of which were impractical and would never work” – but a select handful have become reality.
Japanese ecologists and agriculturalists were particularly keen on the idea, as the country has a high population density and very little growing space. Meanwhile, a history of nuclear disaster has contaminated sea and land alike, and prompted a new approach to farming. What Despommier describes as “an underground academic movement” developed in Japan, dedicated to inventing new ways to grow food in closed closed containers using high-tech methods like hydroponics and aeroponics, plus LED grow lights.
Both growing methods are still central to vertical farming: hydroponics involves submerging plants’ roots in water fortified with nutrients; aeroponics involves spraying the roots with a similar sort of solution. About five years ago, the Japanese government issued a technical report on a new industry they named “plant industries”, concluding that it could make a major contribution to Japanese daily diets.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 5/25/2015)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Mashambas Skyscraper Farm Design Wins
'...a towering eighty-story structure like the office In-and Out baskets stacked up to the sky.' - Poh and Kornbluth, 1952.
Self-Driving Tractors From China Plan Ahead
'Machines that seemingly with full consciousness walked out into the fields to do their daily work.' - Otfrid von Hanstein
John Deere Self-Driving Tractor
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.' - Otfrid von Hanstein, 1935.
SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.' Otfrid von Hanstein, 1935.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Via Virtual Reality, Mother Encounters Deceased Daughter
'But that barrier was going to melt away someday soon. The transhumanists had promised...'
Clothes That Do Photosyntheisis
'Clothes are no longer made from dead fibers of fixed color and texture...'
Stratuscent Electronic Nose
'It's picking up diphenyl compounds and tetra hydrocarbons.'
CIMON Companion Robot For Space Station Astronauts
'... in some departments their power is absolute.'
Qbit Robot Bartender Also Makes Coffee
'...he sipped the cognac that the robot bartender handed him.'
Moving Desks Not SciFi After All
'Charged with hope, he zipped from stack to stack...'
Cruise Autonomous Car Drives Aimlessly For An Hour
Convincing video shows progress (and limitations).
Fast Charging A Bus In 20 Seconds
'... in almost every town and village.'
Realistic Translation With The Waverly Labs Ambassador
'The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.'
Biotech Firms Raised $Millions For Anti-Agathics (Longevity Drugs)
'Against Death doth no simple grow.'
Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help
'His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...'
The Dawn Of Orbiting Manufacturing In 2020?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories.'
Smart Contact Lenses Charges With 3D Printed Antenna
'He realized that it was not quite a clear lens.'
Segway S-Pod Fulfills Dire 1928 SciFi Prophecy
'Noiselessly, on rubber-tired wheels, they journeyed down the long aisles...'
Physicist Inspired By SciFi And Seeing Back In Time
'Here is the chronoscope... Scansion depends upon a special curved field...'
Airbnb Has AI Psychiatrist Looking At Your Facebook
'It's illegal to hold back information during a psyche test.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories