Posted by: ceara08 | February 11, 2008

Could vertical farming be the future?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21154137/

Great idea! I loved reading the article, until the reporter mentioned high cost of sodium light bulbs to provide light for growing the plants.

Mr. Bryn Nelson, I’m disappointed. You clearly did not do enough research and are left clueless about new (and old) technologies that would either greatly reduce electricity cost, or remove it altogether.

First, 100% hydroponic is not necessary. Lightweight soil-less mixtures, natural fertilizers such as compost, compost tea, one last run through used coffee grounds (and the left overs go back into compost), seaweed extract, eggshells and many many other things can be used and no chemical fertilizers are needed. Better off being as natural as possible. I know, I know… these techniques cannot feasibly be used on “away missions” from Earth. But I seriously doubt manned missions further in outer space are feasible for a long, long time. I’m more concerned in using this idea here on Earth. No one has yet to see if humans can really survive long outside Earth’s electromagnetic field.

Think about it. Water weighs a LOT. All you really need is the soil-less mixtures as a growth medium and then water weekly. Peat moss and other additives in soil-less mixtures are devoid of nutrients. But these can be easily added or grown inside the same building. Seaweed and kelp can be propagated in a water tank and simulated tides via machines. Water from elsewhere in the building can be filtered through this same tank and the live plants will do well in cleaning water. Visit the Ethel M chocolate factory in Las Vegas. There’s a desert plant park area outside to see and the water filtration system – all run by plants.

http://www.vegas.com/attractions/off_the_strip/ethelm.html

To simulate wind, use fans.

Install human composting toilets inside for the employees and use that to fertilize the plants as well. Robotic plant care really isn’t ideal for many reasons, so it’s wise to keep the human element involved.

Most plants can be grown without insect help, like potatoes, carrots, lettuce, onions, etc. But I see a problem with tomatoes, mostly from personal experience. But this can be remedied by a creative “tomato sex” method, either by using a vibrator to simulate bee activity, or manual pollen dusting.

Now we come to power and light. High pressure sodium (HPS) is NOT the answer. Having multiple HPS systems is a recipe for disaster! HPS are fire hazards, high cost, noisy, and eat electricity like it’s going out of style. You can look them up online, and some burn 1,000 watts. Ouch!

What’s better is the LED lighting system.

http://www.ledgrowlights.com/
http://www.led-grow-master.com/

Need water? No problem.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070604222124.htm

Now for power. Multiple ideas here. The most favorable is Zero Point Energy. This has been proven, and many inventors out there have done this and patented their inventions, only to be suppressed, killed, or go missing. I don’t know enough on the technical side of all that, but I know it’s possible. The suppression needs to be lifted.

Next in the list is solar or wind energy. It wouldn’t take much to power a several story building if LED grow lights, large windows to catch natural light, and energy saving equipment was used.

Need heat? Use Geothermal technology. Also the windows could assist in generating heat, as well as the outside of the building. Or, Nanotechnology in building facades or exterior paint. The Nanotechnology could also provide power for heating systems.

Lastly, any remaining plant material not to be used for consumption must go into a self-contained composting system, which will just go back into the soil-less growth mediums. Zero need for chemical fertilizers.

I hope someone sees this blog entry and re-designs a new building using my ideas. Here’s what I’d like to see. I don’t want or deserve credit for my ideas. I’d rather see other, more viable technologies used in such a building to help everyone. Although I’d love to work in such a building since I love plants so much. But most importantly, these types of buildings must not be a huge cash cow. We must be more concerned with providing nutritional, non-GM food products for all, in the cheapest method possible. Although start-up costs will be huge, the power-saving techniques mentioned will pay for themselves quickly. Profits can go into building new systems in other places and eventually sprout all over the planet. From there, we can use previously farmed lots for other things besides farming and prevent wrecking the planet’s soil further.

Basement: Grow gourmet mushrooms. Have a storage area for mushroom spawning, seeds and germination testing. (Veseys seeds uses small systems for testing germination, for example.) Install battery back ups from solar/wind energy devices. A water treatment system combined with propagating kelp and seaweed or other water plants. Certain kinds of fish as well can be used in this tank, for tourism/teaching purposes. Controls for Geothermal can also be installed in the basement. Self-contained, non-smelling rotating composting equipment as well, powered by the many energy systems. Perhaps elevators too, to transport compost to other floors.

Ground floor: Grow baby/leafy greens, herbs, and short-term vegetables here like cucumber, radish, green onions, etc. Possibly a laboratory as well, for cloning and method testing. Don’t really need a ton of seeds when you can use lab methods for encouraging natural plant cloning abilities and create thousands of plants from a single plant. This is already being done in the flower industry.

2nd floor: 30-60 day crops. Pole beans, wax beans, tomatoes, etc.

3rd floor: Root crops. Carrot, onion, potato, turnip, etc.

4th floor: Larger, long term crops. Broccoli, cabbage, kale.

5th floor: Tall crops like corn.

6th floor and higher: Grains for flour, etc.

These are just ideas and examples of how I feel it would work best. Further study is needed. But above all, it CAN be done.

Visit http://www.thevenusproject.com/ for further ideas on this line of thinking.

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