Monday, July 30, 2018

AV Club Does Vertical Farms

From AV Club:

Tomato, ToMacco: Farmers are elevating their crops with vertical farming
With more than 5.6 million articles, Wikipedia is an invaluable resource, whether you’re throwing a term paper together at the last minute, or doing legal research on whether it can really be considered assault if your victim habitually made the “cows outstanding in their field” joke. We explore some of Wikipedia’s oddities in our 5,690,195-week series, Wiki Wormhole.

This week’s entry: Vertical farming

What it’s about: Ah, the farmer’s life. The smell of the soil, the green of the leaves, the view from the 45th floor. Yes, like bathrooms before them, farms are moving into the future by moving indoors. Hydroponic farming has made vertical farms possible, in which floor after floor of a building is devoted to growing food. One such farm in Buffalo, New York contains 17 million plans, and a “windowless farm” in Kyoto produces 6 million heads of lettuce a year.

Biggest controversy: It’s an open question as to whether vertical farms are actually beneficial. While they don’t use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, their electricity needs are far beyond that of a traditional farm. And while farms that don’t have to deal with pests or changes in weather can be more efficient, the cost of a large building in an urban center generally far outpaces the cost savings of not having to transport food from country to city.

Strangest fact: The idea of vertical farms has been around a long time. Sir Francis Bacon first proposed growing plants without soil in 1627, and by the mid-1800s, “soil-less cultivation” was being used routinely. Gilbert Ellis Bailey coined the phrase “vertical farming” in his 1915 book of the same name, but he used the phrase to consider plants from top to bottom (i.e., from leaves to root). However, six years earlier, Life Magazine published a concept drawing of a tall building that cultivated food, and soon Bailey’s phrase was used to describe what Rem Koolhaas called “the skyscraper as utopian device for [food] production.”...MORE