Our world is growing and fast, current population predictions estimate that by 2030 there will be over eight billion people globally and by 2050 that number jumps to nine billion. The growing population is concerning mainly because of two factors, loss of land and loss of resources- mainly crop production. One possible answer to the problem of growing world population and hunger is to turn to alternative farming techniques. These processes are still being developed, but they give hope that we can approach farming in ways that have previously not been used that are sustainable, require less land, produce less waste, and have a higher yield of crops to provide for the growing population. It is important to fully evaluate the negative and positive factors of different alternative agriculture techniques in order to find the answer for our future problems.
Most people think that aquaculture is limited to fish farming, but it has a much wider scope that can still be developed including the farming of mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants- most notably seaweed. Aquaculture has a special appeal because of the seemingly endless bodies of water that could be used worldwide to cultivate the harvest. Currently about 40% of the seafood we eat is produced by aquaculture. It’s a sustainable system that helps stop deforestation and reduce carbon emissions. There are many downsides to consider when it comes to aquaculture. Fish farms can conflict with other users of water bodies such as migrating fish as well as fishermen. Since the fish are kept in such close proximity to each other the transfer of disease and parasites is a concern. There is also the possibility that if excessive nutrients are given to the fish this will pollute the water. Aquaculture, since it usually has to be done close to shore can compromise the natural beauty of the coastline.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants without submersing the roots in soil of water. The roots of the plants are suspended in the air and sprayed with nutrient solution. This process limits water use and conserves soil resources, it’s pesticide free and is an excellent farming technique for areas with limited space. Aeroponics is very expensive and highly technical, so it is not the easiest farm startup, nor is it the easiest system to keep maintained.
High-rise farming is perhaps one of the most interesting alternative farming techniques, right now it is still just an idea. The idea is that as population grows and requires more land for residential space, the area for farmland will decrease. To combat this problem high-rise farming suggests that we build our farms up instead of out. High-rise farming eliminates the danger of unpredicted weather, since all the elements are controlled. It also makes it easy to immediately plant a new harvest if a disease destroys the plants. There are however many problems with high-rise farming that still have yet to be solved, mainly how to produce enough light in-doors. It has the potential to be a colossal waste of electricity since so much power would be needed to generate the amount of sunlight plants naturally receive outside. It also creates ‘grey water’ which are problematic byproducts from the plants.
Great short video explaining high-rise farming: The Vertical Farm
As world population continues to grow it is important that alternative ways to produce food are explored. None of these strategies are perfect but it is essential that we continue to explore non-traditional ways to produce crops.
To Learn More Visit These Sites:
High-rise Farming: http://www.verticalfarm.com/