24 April 2008

Urban High Rise Farming Cuts Transportation Cost

The largest driver of current high food costs is the high cost of energy. It requires energy to run farm machinery, and energy to transport the goods from the farm to the warehouse, and from the warehouse to the market. Why not grow the food in the city where it will be consumed, and save some of the energy cost?
Advanced aeroponics growing systems can provide fresh-grown vegetables and fruit year-round, with minimal use of water and no soil required! Aeroponics-grown produce is free of disease, and requires less energy than most other growing systems.
As biological systems are being modified to produce medicines and fuels, as well as food, the full range of crops and products could be grown in almost any urban environment.

We are only beginning to see the variety of approaches to building an urban high-rise farm. As the idea begins to be implemented, and the various problems of financing, marketing, and custom building are overcome, expect urban architects to bring a lot more imagination to the enterprise.The last image provides an architect's view of a "prosthetic add-on" to pre-existing buildings. These "vertical parks" could incorporate wind turbines and photovoltaics, as well as crop-growing zones. They could provide emergency exits from high-rises in case of fire, and could also serve as "skywalks" in cold weather, to allow people to brave the iciest of ice ages.

We live in a de-centralised world, in terms of food supply. In a single day, a person may consume food products from at least 3 or 4 different continents. But a lot of things can change to force food services and retailers to look much closer to home, for product.

H/T FutureScanner

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Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

Certainly some interesting concepts. The skywalks would be great for reducing pedestrian congestion and between the views and the convenience of avoiding intersections would be great for walking though I suspect that a new framework of maintenance costs and liability sharing plus other considerations would be needed.

Vertical farming is also a fascinating topic. It might be more suited to just outside the skyscraper zones since smaller buildings could still get the sun without the real estate costs. Also, while smaller vertical farming in the suburbs would still closer to the market than rural flat farms are, they would have an easier time keeping smog out of the buildings.

Thursday, 24 April, 2008  
Blogger al fin said...

Good points, Baron.

The idea of sky-farming is not practical at this time. That is why I like it. It's suitably audacious to be an interesting challenge. The problems to be solved are big.

Bio-energy, on the other hand, is eminently practical, with a few basic problems to solve. The only reason I spend so much time on bio-energy is because it's important to learn to walk before running and jumping. Bioenergy is boring, but necessary. If humans can't figure that out, we may as well forget about interstellar colonies.

Friday, 25 April, 2008  
Blogger IConrad said...

I wouldn't forget the impact on public health that skyscraper farming will have if implemented, as well. There would be an almost non-existent need for the use of pesticides on produce, as well as a radically reduced usage of nitrogen-based fertilizers, in addition to the ability to eliminate the signature of air-and-water borne contaminants, as well as a lesser need for preservatives due to the reduced shipping/transit times and the ability to control the timing of harvest for year-round production.

As to the use of skyscrapers, a large portion of the 'theorizing' that I have seen has been involved in the conversion of already-existing skyscrapers... and believe it or not, the numbers for even high-priced urban environments make skyscraper farms potentially viable economically speaking, without subsidization. (It's just the capital cost that keeps them from being built/converted thus far.) Suburbs, however, actually would be somewhat poorer in terms of land-density there, but only because many have height restrictions on buildings.

Let's all not forget that these things also provide absolute evidence against the standard Malthusian 'battle-cry': non-fungibility of farm land.

Friday, 25 April, 2008  
Blogger Snake Oil Baron said...

The control of pesticides and fertilizer is a good point and by dehumidifying the air they might be able to lower water usage if energy budgets permitted. They could also take advantage of the increased productivity which occurs when plants grow in a higher partial pressure of CO2.

Bioenergy is an exciting field of study and the lessons from biological systems will likely be extremely useful. I don't know if cities and space stations of the future will store energy in batteries or in fat deposits but like all organisms they will need to trade off the efficiency and storage density of some forms with the speed and reliability of conversion for others.

Friday, 25 April, 2008  

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