The threat posed by climate change cannot be overstated, but even as warnings continue to pour in from scientists, conservationists, the United Nations and others, so engineers are working on possible solutions.
Farming contributes approximately a third of greenhouse gas emissions, but thanks to creative engineering, it may be possible to reduce those emissions significantly.
According to a 2019 UN report, approximately 50% of land covered by vegetation is used for agriculture, of which 30% is used to produce feed for animals farmed in the meat industry. The practise already had led to widescale deforestation.
The report added that, unless there is a significant change in global eating habits, an additional 593 million hectares would need to be cleared of its natural vegetation to feed an estimated population of 9.8 billion people by 2050. However, if the methods described below can be implemented widely, it could change the UN’s forecast.
The Swedish company Plantagon is working on developing vertical greenhouses known as plantscapers. The idea is that the greenhouses will be integrated into residential and office buildings, and that they will supply food for the residents and tenants of those buildings.
The plantscapers will be based on hydroponics, and they will rely mostly on automated systems to control the delivery of nutrients and water, and to control the temperature and the amount of light received. Automated systems mean people could spend more time doing the things they enjoy, such as political betting in Australia on computer or mobile.
Although aeroponics was developed by NASA in the 1990s, the system of growing plants without soil and with a minimum amount of water has yet to see widespread use. The system, which was developed as a way of growing plants in space, relies on a misty environment.
Plants grown using the method absorbed more nutrients than plants grown in other ways. Furthermore, aeroponics uses 90% less water than the best hydroponics systems.
Hydraulic Vertical Farms
Although vertical gardening and farming is not exactly new, they are not usually known for hydraulic, low-carbon set-ups. However, thanks to the work of Singapore-based company Sky Greens, they could be.
The company pioneered a vertical farm that sees vegetables and other plants grown on rotating shelves. Those at the top are exposed to sunlight, while those on the lower levels receive water and nutrients. Not only does the system use less energy, land, and water, it also yields 10 times more produce than traditional farming methods.
The Skyfarm concept was unveiled by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners at the 2014 World Architectural Festival. The London-based architectural firm’s idea is to construct a wind-powered hyperboloid tower in which various farming techniques are employed.
Some crops will be grown using traditional soil-based planting, while others will be grown using aquaponics, which also includes fish tanks, and aeroponics. Some plants will act as natural filters, and the nutrient-rich water from the tanks will be used to support the growth of plants.