Hydroponic farm

Agri View: Hydroponic Farming

Dan Agri View, Specialty Crops

HyroponicEverett Griner talks about hydroponic farming and how it may not be practical in today’s Agri View.

Hydroponic Farming

From: MIT University



Humans require food, water, and living space in order to survive. These things do not exist in endless abundance and are derived both from abiotic and biotic sources, making humans inherently dependent upon the optimization of land area and the preservation of biodiversity. The human population is increasing, and is predicted to expand from 7.0 billion to 9.5 billion people within the next 40 years (Sahara Forest Project, 2009). A parallel increase in the demand for food species is implied, and estimates claim that food production will need to be doubled in order to compensate (Sahara Forest Project, 2009). The trouble with this becomes evident upon the consideration of the productivity of current systems of agriculture and fresh water harvesting: despite our efforts, 1.0 billion people suffer from hunger modernly, and 1.2 billion live in areas with water scarcity (Sahara Forest Project, 2009).

Hydroponic farmTo make matters worse, the affluence of the world is increasing, meaning that more of the future’s consumers will demand higher—quality resources (Charles and Godfray, 2011). The intensified harvesting of resources from the environment affects biodiversity negatively, as it contributes to climate change (through the burning of fossil fuels) and habitat fragmentation, degradation, and reduction (as natural terrestrial environments are converted into farmlands). Habitat loss is the leading cause of biodiversity loss, and today, about 38 percent of global land is devoted to agriculture (Brudvig et al., 2009; FAO, 2011). Without altering our current systems of development, this percentage will only increase, as open-air soil-reliant crops cannot be stacked into storied facilities.

In what follows, the construction of a series of hydroponic agriculture and algaculture (multi-level) facilities and power plant/greenhouse desalination facilities is proposed in an effort to:

  • limit terrestrial biodiversity loss through the reversion of large tracts of current farmland into sustainable and fundamentally natural environments;
  • limit aquatic biodiversity loss through the development of more cost-effective distillation processes;
  • produce algae for biofuels, limiting abrasive, environmentally damaging fuel harvesting;
  • expand our capacity to supply fresh water, foods, and economic stability to arid communities; AND
  • optimize space in current agricultural settings.

It is true that other technologies exist in order to address these problems independently. More sustainable forms of irrigation, for example, reduce strains on freshwater habitats, but also allow for the development of arid regions with entirely different forms of biodiversity: modern agriculture occupies far more than the 10.6 percent of global land that is arable (FAO, 2011). The above technologies are favored in this report because they seek to mitigate a broad array of anthropogenic environmental problems simultaneously.


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