The future of farming may include neither soil nor sunlight according to a recent article in the San Francisco Examiner. In fact, it may not even include a farmer.
In that vision, the greens for your next salad will be grown hydroponically in nutrient rich water instead of soil, and under 24/7 LED lighting that delivers the exact light quality needed to optimise growth. They will be monitored, tended and harvested by robots, all under a system controlled by advanced Artificial Intelligence.
It’s called “controlled environment agriculture” and it’s already happening today.
Proponents say it has a number of important advantages over traditional farming methods.
It can produce food year-round from the same location.
It can be done in or near cities allowing food to be grown and consumed literally in the same day.
It’s virtually immune to drought, insect infestation, storms, and many other things that can damage traditionally grown crops.
It can dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, agricultural land use and potential environmental contamination from fertilizers and pesticides.
When done in greenhouses with natural sunlight it can reduce energy inputs generated from fossil fuels or nuclear power.
While it is more costly than traditional methods at present, proponents are hard at work finding ways to reduce costs. The goal is to put “controlled environment agriculture” on the same descend-ing cost curve as other technology-driven products.
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