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Vertical Farms

24, نوفمبر 2010

Vertical farming is a proposed agricultural technique involving large-scale agriculture in urban high-rises or “farmscrapers” Using advanced greenhouse technology and greenhouse methods such as hydroponics, these buildings would produce fruit, vegetables, edible mushrooms and algae year-round.

Researchers, including Bryn Nelson, argues that, by allowing traditional outdoor farms to revert to a natural state and reducing the energy costs needed to transport foods to consumers, vertical farms could significantly alleviate climate change produced by excess atmospheric carbon. Critics have noted that the costs of the additional energy needed for artificial lighting, heating and other vertical farming operations would outweigh the benefit of the building’s close proximity to the areas of consumption.

It took humans 10,000 years to learn how to grow most of the crops we now take for granted. Along the way, we despoiled most of the land we worked, often turning verdant, natural ecozones into semi-arid deserts. Within that same time frame, we evolved into an urban species, in which 60% of the human population now lives vertically in cities. This means that, for the majority, we humans are protected against the elements, yet we subject our food-bearing plants to the rigors of the great outdoors and can do no more than hope for a good weather year. However, more often than not now, due to a rapidly changing climate regime, that is not what follows. Massive floods, protracted droughts, class 4-5 hurricanes, and severe monsoons take their toll each year, destroying millions of tons of valuable crops. Don’t our harvestable plants deserve the same level of comfort and protection that we now enjoy? The time is at hand for us to learn how to safely grow our food inside environmentally controlled multistory buildings within urban centers. If we do not, then in just another 50 years, the next 3 billion people will surely go hungry, and the world will become a much more unpleasant place in which to live.

Organization/Procedure

The following is an excerpt from Dickson Desponmmier’s interview by Miller-McCune.com. He describes the proposed function of a vertical farm:

“Each floor will have its own watering and nutrient monitoring systems. There will be sensors for every single plant that tracks how much and what kinds of nutrients the plant has absorbed. You’ll even have systems to monitor plant diseases by employing DNA chip technologies that detect the presence of plant pathogens by simply sampling the air and using snippets from various viral and bacterial infections. It’s very easy to do.

Moreover, a gas chromatograph will tell us when to pick the plant by analyzing which flavenoids the produce contains. These flavenoids are what gives the food the flavors you’re so fond of, particularly for more aromatic produce like tomatoes and peppers. These are all right-off-the-shelf technologies. The ability to construct a vertical farm exists now. We don’t have to make anything new.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/farming-in-high-rises-raises-hopes-3705/

For the full concept of vertical farming to work, a series of technologies and devices are needed. Such technologies and devices will need to be able to combine and live in integration. Desponmmier and other researchers and scientists are busy formulating and developing various methods for these technologies. Such technologies include:

Grow Light

– The concept of using a grow light as a means of growing produce involves the use of an electric lamp that emits an electromagnetic spectrum necessary for photosynthesis to promote plant growth. Grow lights would be used at an industrial level for vertical farms and would be applied when natural sunlight is unavailable.

Phytoremediation

– Phytoremediation is the use of green plants to remove pollutants from the environment or render them harmless. The process of phytoremediation can be more thoroughly explained here:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/jun00/soil0600.htm

The People Involved

The original concept of vertical farms was developed by Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York City. After performing a simulated test to see how much 13 acres of rooftop dedicated to farming would feed the population of Manhattan, it was determined that the system would only feed about 2% of the approximate 2,000,000 people. This simulation sparked the minds of various scientists, architects, and investors, who then moved the concept of vertical farming to an actual creation. “Architectural designs have been produced by Chris Jacobs and Andrew Kranis at Columbia University and Gordon Graff at the University of Waterloo.” They dub their design, Skyfarm. A simulation of this design can be found through this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBf1qj5MOjw

http://www.thestar.com/article/468023

The following cities feature developers and local governments who have formally expressed serious interest in the establishment of a vertical farm: Incheon (South Korea), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Dongtan (China), New York City, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Surrey, B.C., Toronto, Paris, Bangalore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Incheon, Shanghai and Beijing.

A short article expanding on Las Vegas’ plans of a unique vertical farm, the world’s first 30 story vertical farm:

http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news-las-vegas-vertical-farm-1.2b.html

The Illinois Institute of Technology is now developing a detailed plan for Chicago, led by Dickson Despommier and Eric Ellingsen. It is suggested that prototype versions of vertical farms should be created first, possibly at large universities interested in the research of vertical farms. The following pdf presents the dynamic of the plans, as well as some detailed designs.

http://www.ctbuh.org/Portals/0/Repository/T7_DespommierEllingsen.b8a44415-acfe-44b7-9d2d-c31c028f88ea.pdf

Situation

The situation that would be necessary for the implementation of a vertical farm directly is dependent on the population of a given area and how that population is expected to change in years to come. Areas of high population density will have to cope with the conflict of feeding the nation without sacrificing too much farmland. Vertical farms propose a solution to this problem. As urbanization continuously grows, so will the importance of establishing vertical farms.

Taxonomy Categories:

Urban spatial design integrates land use planning and transportation planning to improve the built, economic and social environments of communities. It is the interface between urban planning and architecture. Urban design should also form the interface between all the relevant specialties that deal with the human and the human environment, both objective and subjective. Urban design should thus function as a multidimensional interdisciplinary interface, with the responsibility to manage and transform the interactions of the different aspects of urban life into a physical and/or usable form.

Clarence “Du” Burns when asked about the formula to the success of downtown redevelopment he responded, “Determine where you are and what you have to work with. Decide where you want to be. Develop a strategy to get there.”

Urbanization vs. Agricultural Expansion:

The amount of U.S. farmland in metropolitan areas increased by nearly 50 percent between 1974 and 1982. Nearly 300 additional counties were redefined as metro as a result of the 1980 census (figure 1). This increasingly metropolitan character of the Nation presents both problems and opportunities for farmers in those areas.

Metro areas now contain 16 percent of the total U.S. land area, 20 percent of all cropland, and 31 percent of all farms. The best farmland is actually more fully utilized in metro areas. That is, the percentage of prime farmland used for crop production is higher in metro areas than in nonmetro areas. Also, the percentage of land classified as prime farmland is slightly higher in metro areas than elsewhere.

Urban growth certainly does not mean the end of agriculture in a given area. Urbanization does not usually take the best farmland. Farmers tend to intensify production on their best land, often changing crops and inputs, and exploiting new marketing and employment opportunities.

The loss of agricultural land to urbanization in the US has evoked recent concern due to current food price inflation and global agricultural shortages. The possibility that future energy and other nonland inputs used in agricultural production may become very expensive and push agriculture back into  more land based forms of architecture is a modern concern. It is important also to consider if this continuous loss of urban farmland could exacerbate a possible shortage of productive agricultural land in the future.  (Thomas R. Plaut)

Reuse vs. Wasteful Disposal

Everyone is familiar with recycling materials such as glass, plastic, aluminum, and paper, right? We simply throw them into a “Recycle Only” bin and forget about it. However, what about the food that used to inhabit those empty glass jars and flattened cardboard boxes? We know we do not consume every food product we buy. In residential areas,” food waste and food-soiled paper make up about 25-30% of a typical household’s waste.”[1] “ In  restaurant and other food service establishments the food waste is more than 76% organic. A single restaurant, on an average, disposes more than 50 tons of organic waste every year.”[2] Therefore, we should invest the same amount of consideration into efficient, beneficial reuse of food waste as we do for recycling. Fortunately, there are numerous cases in which communities/organizations have invested this consideration and developed solutions to this wasteful problem; solutions that can be implemented into Vertical Farms:

  • Always known for its Golden Gate Bridge and liberal activism, San Francisco has recently gained recognition the past several years for offering a “green” service to its residents:

“San Franciscans like Ellisa Feinstein have another option for their organic waste: put it out on the curb with the glass, plastic and paper, where it will be picked up and recycled by the city. For the past several years, San Francisco has offered curbside recycling of food scraps, shipping leftovers to industrial-scale composting facilities, which process 300 tons of organic waste a day. For Feinstein, the curbside program allows her to salve her green conscience without the ickiness that came from composting her own used tea bags. “It’s great because it helps me do my job of diverting garbage from the landfill,” she says. “And it’s really easy.”

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1813956,00.html

  • The National Renderers Association focuses primarily on re-using meat waste:

Members of this association are all in the business of rendering, i.e. transforming waste from the meat industry into useable products for animal feeds and technical use. Renderers are even known as the original recyclers. On average slaughter houses, packing plants, supermarkets, butcher shops and restaurants collectively generate at least 40,000 metric tonnes of animal byproduct each week. Without the rendering industry, byproducts from meat and poultry processing would fill up landfills very quickly and the decomposing waste would contaminate our soil and water with disease-causing microorganisms and vermin

http://www.recycle.net/assn/render.html

[1] http://www.ci.bellevue.wa.us/recycling_food_waste.htm

[2] http://www.ci.la.ca.us/san/solid_resources/pdfs/FoodWaste.pdf

Media

Sodexo, the company that provides food on our own Georgia Tech campus, warns us that the first and best step to reduce food waste among colleges is to portion the amount of food we eat.

FOOD WASTE – DON’T BE TRASHY!

Organization/Procedure


The following is an excerpt from Dickson Desponmmier’s interview by Miller-McCune.com. He describes the proposed function of a vertical farm:

“Each floor will have its own watering and nutrient monitoring systems. There will be sensors for every single plant that tracks how much and what kinds of nutrients the plant has absorbed. You’ll even have systems to monitor plant diseases by employing DNA chip technologies that detect the presence of plant pathogens by simply sampling the air and using snippets from various viral and bacterial infections. It’s very easy to do.

Moreover, a gas chromatograph will tell us when to pick the plant by analyzing which flavenoids the produce contains. These flavenoids are what gives the food the flavors you’re so fond of, particularly for more aromatic produce like tomatoes and peppers. These are all right-off-the-shelf technologies. The ability to construct a vertical farm exists now. We don’t have to make anything new.

http://www.miller-mccune.com/science-environment/farming-in-high-rises-raises-hopes-3705/

For the full concept of vertical farming to work, a series of technologies and devices are needed. Such technologies and devices will need to be able to combine and live in integration. Desponmmier and other researchers and scientists are busy formulating and developing various methods for these technologies. Such technologies include:

Grow Light

– The concept of using a grow light as a means of growing produce involves the use of an electric lamp that emits an electromagnetic spectrum necessary for photosynthesis to promote plant growth. Grow lights would be used at an industrial level for vertical farms and would be applied when natural sunlight is unavailable.

Phytoremediation

– Phytoremediation is the use of green plants to remove pollutants from the environment or render them harmless. The process of phytoremediation can be more thoroughly explained here:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/jun00/soil0600.htm

The People Involved

The original concept of vertical farms was developed by Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences and microbiology at Columbia University in New York City. After performing a simulated test to see how much 13 acres of rooftop dedicated to farming would feed the population of Manhattan, it was determined that the system would only feed about 2% of the approximate 2,000,000 people. This simulation sparked the minds of various scientists, architects, and investors, who then moved the concept of vertical farming to an actual creation. “Architectural designs have been produced by Chris Jacobs and Andrew Kranis at Columbia University and Gordon Graff at the University of Waterloo.” They dub their design, Skyfarm.

http://www.thestar.com/article/468023

The following cities feature developers and local governments who have formally expressed serious interest in the establishment of a vertical farm: Incheon (South Korea), Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Dongtan (China), New York City, Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Seattle, Surrey, B.C., Toronto, Paris, Bangalore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Incheon, Shanghai and Beijing.

A short article expanding on Las Vegas’ plans of a unique vertical farm, the world’s first 30 story vertical farm:

http://www.nextenergynews.com/news1/next-energy-news-las-vegas-vertical-farm-1.2b.html

The Illinois Institute of Technology is now developing a detailed plan for Chicago, led by Dickson Despommier and Eric Ellingsen. It is suggested that prototype versions of vertical farms should be created first, possibly at large universities interested in the research of vertical farms. The following pdf presents the dynamic of the plans, as well as some detailed designs.

http://www.ctbuh.org/Portals/0/Repository/T7_DespommierEllingsen.b8a44415-acfe-44b7-9d2d-c31c028f88ea.pdf

Situation

The situation that would be necessary for the implementation of a vertical farm directly is dependent on the population of a given area and how that population is expected to change in years to come. Areas of high population density will have to cope with the conflict of feeding the nation without sacrificing too much farmland. Vertical farms propose a solution to this problem. As urbanization continuously grows, so will the importance of establishing vertical farms.


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