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Landbouwvakdagen Agriculture Fair West-Nederland 2020

2020 Trending: The Future Of Farming & Agriculture

Here’s why moving indoors could be inevitable.

Imagine this: You step off the humming streets of South London, and into a metal cage that shoots 100 feet below the ground. Upon landing, you’re surrounded by blackness and a network of winding tunnels. Time vanishes as sunlight fails to penetrate through the former World War 2 air-raid shelters that act as ceiling decor above your head.

Am >there is life.

In a Nutshell

It sounds like an excerpt from your favorite fictional novel.

But the company described is Growing Underground, and they are very real. As the name implies, the business model is literally grow fresh produce underground.

“At Growing Underground, we sustainably grow mouth-wateringly fresh micro greens and salad leaves 33 metres below the busy streets of Clapham. Using the latest hydroponic systems and LED technology, our crops are grown year-round in the perfect, pesticide-free environment that these forgotten tunnels provide. Thanks to a controlled environment, each tiny leaf tastes as amazing as the last.”

Their method is known as Hydroponics; a subset of hydroculture, which involves growing plants without soil by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.

This idea isn’t necessarily new; floating farms and gardens have existed for centuries. The science has merely been modernized to accommodate our tech savvy society. Hydroponics have been fine-tuned, and encompass everything from cloud based sensors that deliver pulses of water to crops based on a predetermined schedule to DIY gardens sitting on your neighbors living room coffee table.

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We have just began to intersect nature and technology with modern advancements in hydroponics. The untapped potential is limitless.

Bored yet?

Starting to succumb to every writers mortal enemy, the ever dangerous “reader skim through”? I don’t blame you. But let’s digress for a moment.

I am not a biology expert or aspiring entrepreneur aiming to change the world. I simply stumbled upon hydroponics as a senior in college tasked with picking a process that could alter the course of our future (vague right?).

But hydroponics struck an odd chord with me. It did when I first started researching the subject two years ago and it does now.

Maybe it’s the advancing research of NASA, using LED lights and hydroponics to harvest crops in a simulated Martian environment. This offers the ability to drastically advance space travel, with the plants acting as a bioregenerative life support system.

“I think it could allow us to travel farther and be more comfortable, whether that’s underwater or above the atmosphere.”

Erik Biksa, Editor and co-founder of Grozine

I might be drawn to the potential hydroponics has to minimize our pollution output by reducing the transportation and logistics that are required to support traditional farming.

Let’s face it. The worlds population is not decreasing. Our carbon footprint is not decreasing. Available land is decreasing. Third world countries have been hit by droughts and poor soil quality. We are running out of space with the massive urbanization movement taking place worldwide, and the ability to produce sustainable food has become an increasingly demanding challenge.

In the United States, unpredictable climates plagued by weather extremities constantly hamper the crop output during certain seasons. Harsh winters freeze the Midwest, and other locations are hit with torrential rainfall, dry seasons, tropical storms, and more.

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Agriculture must become smarter, more efficient, and willing to experiment with potential alternatives to traditional farming.

Hydroponics recognizes all of these obstacles and simply offer an alternative reality to a process that, quite frankly, causes a lot of environmental and economical issues.

It’s time to dive a little deeper and explore the future of farming and agriculture.

Hydroponics In Action

An ocean away from London’s underground plant experimentation, it’s frigidly cold. I’m talking mid-winter Chicago cold. Lake Michigan hurls gusts of wind at the city, and freezing air slices at the skin. Shovels are of little use, as soil on the ground is impenetrable like it was coated with clear steel.

Vegetation has all but disappeared under thick blanks of snow, blackened by dirty water runoff from everyday pollutants. In this frozen tundra that is my front yard, nothing will grow. The same is true for farmers across the Midwest during Winter.

But in the Pullman Neighborhood of Chicago, harvest is in full swing. A 75,000 square foot building sits on a field covered with frost. Within it’s confines are rows of colorful greens and luscious vegetation holding the ambiance of a different world; Butterhead Lettuce, Baby Kale, Basil, Arugula, Bok Choy, and more.

Gotham Greens is an American agriculture company founded in Brooklyn, New York. They grow produce year-round in greenhouses, and sell locally. In 2014 Gotham Greens expanded to Chicago. It operates on renewable energy and produces local, premium-quality, greenhouse grown vegetables and herbs.

  • 10 million heads of greens/yer
  • 100 % Renewable Energy
  • Hydroponic Techniques (No soil)
  • World’s largest rooftop farm
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The company has built and operates over 170,000 square feet of technologically advanced, urban rooftop greenhouses across 4 facilities in New York City and Chicago.

The final product looks and tastes almost indistinguishable from your traditionally grown vegetables.

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