Nearly 60% of humanity is now concentrating in urban areas. By 2050, this proportion will reach 80%, and the planet win at the very least 3 billion people. Even anticipating some technological developments, traditional agriculture can not meet demand for food: 80% arable area of ??the globe are already in operation, and 15% of these same soils have been depleted (intensive agriculture, pollution, desertification … ). Fortunately, architects, designers and agricultural engineers combine their skills to invent tomorrow’s farm: the heart of cities, and … vertically!
It is clear that intensive farming “saturates”. The causes are manifold: global warming, pollution, soil depletion, distribution channels (always longer and intensive fossil fuels) … In the end, consumers are offered products certainly cheaper, but also lower quality. And anyway, soon insufficient to meet the needs of the planet.
But since the arable land is a finite (apart from deforestation, which itself has dramatic consequences), how to produce the food necessary for a growing world population? The answer is simple: bring them on farms in the heart of cities. But no way to shave Defence or Manhattan to restore the original green pastures, time is more innovation.
A utopia in the service of the future
If some visionaries have probably sketched out the idea before, the concept of “vertical farm” has truly emerged in the last century. The idea is simple: to produce in quantity of food in structures occupying a small footprint – for example towers. Some projects Anglo-Saxon and speak openly about farm scrapers (“skyscraper farms”, a contraction of farm and skyscrapers).
Given the progress in agriculture in recent years, particularly in terms of greenhouse crops, such projects are far from Utopian. So much so that vertical farms are being studied around the world. Even the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), United Nations agency responsible for combating world hunger, considers the development of urban agriculture as a key to the survival food of mankind.
Production capacity astonishing
Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York, was among the first to formalize the concept in 1999. With the technology available at the time, he asserted that a 30-story vertical farm, built for $ 84 million (an amount to be revised upwards today), could be enough to feed at the lowest 30 000 people, with an average yield 5-6 times of traditional agriculture – and 30 times for growing strawberries!
In fact, almost everything could be produced in the gardens of the future Earth-like World Center: fruits, vegetables, algae, fungi, cereals, but also pigs, poultry, livestock, fish … The soilless cultivation methods ( hydroponic or aeroponic type), already at work in many greenhouses worldwide, maximize use of space. Operating in closed circuit and at least partially energy self-sufficient, they also use an extremely small amount of water.