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Future Farms: Indoor Greenhouses Could Feed The World April 11, 2011

Posted by Metabiological in Ecology.
Tags: , , ,

Stuff like this sends tingles up my spine.  A group of Dutch researchers are attempting to show the feasibility of growing crops indoors as a new method of feeding the world’s growing population.

Meeuws and three other Dutch bioengineers have taken the concept of a greenhouse a step further, growing vegetables, herbs and house plants in enclosed and regulated environments where even natural light is excluded.

In their research station, strawberries, yellow peppers, basil and banana plants take on an eerie pink glow under red and blue bulbs of Light-Emitting Diodes, or LEDs. Water trickles into the pans when needed and all excess is recycled, and the temperature is kept constant. Lights go on and off, simulating day and night, but according to the rhythm of the plant — which may be better at shorter cycles than 24 hours — rather than the rotation of the Earth.

As someone who has tried, with mixed success, to grow my own food hydroponically I always get excited when I see attempts to scale this technology up.  The potential of urban farms (or farmscrapers) to provide cheap, organic and local produce to city dwellers is inspiring, especially considering the inefficient and destructive nature of modern agriculture.

The big barrier right now to seeing the tech go mainstream is the start up costs of the equipment and the cost of providing light to the plants (required for anything other than a single layer greenhouse.)  But as mentioned in the article costs for LED’s are coming down and as they drop the feasibility of urban farms grows and grows.



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