The Future of Agriculture

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
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Somewhere at MacRumors I have already mentioned City Farming , but can’t find it so... a new thread.
Did you know that the modern farm is or should be considered a heavy industrial zone, commonly responsible for polluting our waterways?

Not to imply that large rural farms will cease to exist, but City Farming, warehouse and high rise urban farms will have a huge impact on the human food chain especially in the light of the adverse effects of climate change. And after reading about this multiple times, it is an absolute no brainer to use 4% of the water used in tradional agriculture, a fraction of the space and fertilizer, 12 months of the year, with less if any pesticides, not to mention fresh, locally grown with less transportation costs. The second article argues that there will simply not be enough land available to feed the future numbers of people using tradional farming methods. This is the future.


Opinion: Why Cities Are the Future for Farming
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/urban-expeditions/austin/caleb-harper-innovation-in-urban-agriculture-important-because-of-climate-change/ (published 2016)

The landscape of our food future appears bleak, if not apocalyptic.

Humanity’s impact on the environment has become undeniable and will continue to manifest itself in ways already familiar to us, except on a grander scale. In a warmer world, heavier floods, more intense droughts, and unpredictable, violent, and increasingly frequent storms could become a new normal.

Little wonder that the theme for this year's World Food Day, which happens on Sunday, is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too.” The need for an agricultural sea change was also tackled at the recent South by South Lawn, President Obama’s festival of art, ideas, and action (inspired by the innovative drive of Austin’s SXSW), where I was honored to present.

As our global agricultural system buckles under its own weight, we’re losing our farmers and we’re not creating more. In the U.S. alone, only 2 percent of the population is involved in farming, with 60 percent of our farmers above the age of 58. We’re also experiencing a dramatic move away from rural areas, our traditional growing centers. The UN estimates that by 2050, 6.5 billion people will be living in cities, nearly double what it is today. (Read more at link)


Farms Grow Up: Why Vertical Farming May Be Our Future
https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/farms-grow-up-why-vertical-farming-may-be-our-futu/

The world’s largest vertical farm is now located in Newark, NJ, in the United States. Startup Aerofarms converted a steel factory into a 69,000-square foot agriculture center that opened earlier this year.

The urban farm produces as much as 2-million pounds of leafy greens a year through a new growing system called “aeroponics,” which does not use direct sunlight or soil to deliver nutrients. It nourishes the plants with special LED lighting and delivers nutrients to plant roots through a liquid mist.


Hidden Costs of Industrial Agriculture
http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/our-failing-food-system/industrial-agriculture/hidden-costs-of-industrial.html#.Weyoj7pOmhA

Industrial agriculture is currently the dominant food production system in the United States. It's characterized by large-scale monoculture, heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and meat production in CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations)*. The industrial approach to farming is also defined by its heavy emphasis on a few crops that overwhelmingly end up as animal feed, biofuels, and processed junk food ingredients.

*
Where heavy use of antibiotics are required to keep these animals alive, antibiotics that consequently end up in meat for human consumption. (My comment.)

31153E1C-C4DF-4ED4-AB96-2B89B98AA964.jpeg
 
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Huntn

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Indoor Farming: Future Takes Root In Abandoned Buildings, Warehouses, Empty Lots & High Rises
http://www.ibtimes.com/indoor-farming-future-takes-root-abandoned-buildings-warehouses-empty-lots-high-rises-1653412 (published 2014).

We can grow 200 percent more food per square foot than traditional agriculture, and without the use of chemical fertilizers,” said Mark Thomann, chief executive officer of FarmedHere.

The Association for Vertical Farming, an industry trade group, says vertical farms use 98 percent less water and 70 percent less fertilizer on average than outdoor farms. Weather fluctuations aren’t a factor, and neither is soil management. They can harvest crops as often as 20 times a year, and with their stack-it-high

—————
Vertical farming also makes efficient use of urban spaces, occupying previously neglected warehouses, underutilized rooftops and other vacant areas. In New York, Gotham Greens grows everything from butterhead lettuce to bok choy in rooftop greenhouses, including a 20,000 square foot one atop a Whole Foods in Brooklyn. Green Spirit Farms in New Buffalo, Michigan, meanwhile, operates out of a former plastics molding factory.

This is a really interesting image (artist rendition) because it shows fruit trees and crops like corn being grown in a building:

C7B72E66-4FAB-47E3-9A6B-4D5435FCB017.jpeg

The Future of Food
Ending Agriculture to Feed and Re-Wild the Planet
https://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-lind/the-future-of-food (Published 2012)

The United States has a total land area of nearly 2.3 billion acres. In 2007, the major land uses were forestland at 671 million acres (30 percent); grassland pasture and rangeland at 614 million (27 percent); cropland at 408 million (18 percent); special uses (primarily parks and wildlife areas) at 313 million acres (14 percent); miscellaneous uses (like tundra or swamps) at 197 million acres (9 percent); and urban land at 61 million acres (3 percent).

It is absurd for environmentalists to fret about the 3 percent of American land that is sacrificed to cities and suburbs, while ignoring the 45 percent of U.S. land area consumed by farms and ranches which, by definition, replace the pre-existing ecosystem, whose aboriginal inhabitants are redefined as “weeds” and “pests” if they survive in the territory they have lost to mutant plants and animals originally bred in the Middle East (cattle, sheep, wheat) or Mesoamerica (corn). Only constant campaigns of extermination by farmers and ranchers can prevent the native wilderness from reclaiming its lost territory.
 

Scepticalscribe

macrumors Sandy Bridge
Jul 29, 2008
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Great idea for a thread.

I will say, though, that (agricultural) matters are rather different in Europe, - which is developed - and with which I am a bit more familiar, and - obviously - are drastically different in other (less developed) regions and continents.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
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I'm pretty sure it was this post:
https://forums.macrumors.com/threads/science-technology-breakthroughs.1738400/page-2#post-22532734

Its post #41 in a more diverse-topic thread.
Thank you, that’s it, and in my defense I did a search on technology, but that thread did not appear in the results. I have 25+ pages of started threads, and fizzled out searching page by page. :):(

Great idea for a thread.

I will say, though, that (agricultural) matters are rather different in Europe, - which is developed - and with which I am a bit more familiar, and - obviously - are drastically different in other (less developed) regions and continents.
From my many visits to Europe, mostly UK, Ireland, Germany, and France, developments is more contained in smaller footprints with more multi-family structures, but there is still tons of country side (farm side?) with smaller villiages- yes, or would you disagree with that? My impression is that development is much more controlled there, though because of less total land, as compared to the US.

As I said in a recent post (different thread) what is happening in the outskirts of Ft. Worth with plenty of land is practically criminal, mile upon mile of helter skelter development, with no rhyme or reason, no infrastructure, small country roads crumbling under the use, 4 way stop signs with 40 cars lined up in each direction trying to get through, all because as I like to say, the building contractors sit on the city councils and this is the land of the free, freedom to destroy paradise. :oops:

Back on topic, I would think other than concerns about the existing farming economy say in the UK, high rise urban farms would be a perfect fit, allowing more land to be freed up to return to a natural state, if that is the desire.

Having spent almost 3 decades living in Minnesota, the farm land there was beautiful, but I acknowledge it represents a destroyed or damaged ecosystem. While avoiding the debate of property rights and what freedom means, it would be wonderful if more land could be returned to it’s natural state.

Of note, with the economy as it is, with less income for average families and young adults, and houses ever more expensive, there could be an opportunity to harness sprawl in the US if there is a will to do so.
 
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Huntn

macrumors demi-god
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May 5, 2008
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Fascinating stuff. Very timely considering the very worrying news from German scientists:

http://www.dw.com/en/insect-and-bird-populations-declining-dramatically-in-germany/a-41030897

Agriculture must change.
Thanks! My impression is that vertical farming is taking off in Europe, maybe faster than in the US, maybe precisely due to less total land to work with.

Interesting article that attributes the decline to Global warming. I wonder if pesticides play into the equation?
 

decafjava

macrumors 68040
Feb 7, 2011
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Thanks! My impression is that vertical farming is taking off in Europe, maybe faster than in the US, maybe precisely due to less total land to work with.

Interesting article that attributes the decline to Global warming. I wonder if pesticides play into the equation?
I would say pesticides play a bigger role than global warming in this particular instance.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 68040
Aug 19, 2017
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Thanks! My impression is that vertical farming is taking off in Europe, maybe faster than in the US, maybe precisely due to less total land to work with.

Interesting article that attributes the decline to Global warming. I wonder if pesticides play into the equation?
Interestingly, if you go by real population density (number of people divided by amount of arable land) the US isn’t as far off European levels as you might think (I guess because more of the US is desert, tundra, mountain, inland water or otherwise not converted to agricultural use) - currently the US is sitting at about 200 people per square kilometre, while France is at about 300 people per square kilometre. Granted France is one of the less densely populated countries in Europe, but you’d probably expect the difference to be more pronounced than 50%.
 

Huntn

macrumors demi-god
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Interestingly, if you go by real population density (number of people divided by amount of arable land) the US isn’t as far off European levels as you might think (I guess because more of the US is desert, tundra, mountain, inland water or otherwise not converted to agricultural use) - currently the US is sitting at about 200 people per square kilometre, while France is at about 300 people per square kilometre. Granted France is one of the less densely populated countries in Europe, but you’d probably expect the difference to be more pronounced than 50%.
That’s an interesting point, however the projections are for cities to hold the fast majority of our population, which would be a strong argument for local urban high rise farms. Closeness to population centers, controlled environment, a small footprint, fraction of water, fertilizer, and pesticide usage, and all year production are efficiencies that are hard to blow off.
 
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