Years ago I was presented with a theoretical dilemma. How do you easily grow more food? At the time it seemed like a very straightforward question with an equally straightforward answer. Make farms bigger. But as I’ve grown older, I realize that rarely present itself as straightforward and simple. Full disclosure. I’m not an engineer nor a farmer. I have no background in anything useful that would go into fixing the problem of how to grow more product. However, that’s what makes me aptly qualified to hypothesize the hell out of this conundrum!
Farm Skyscrapers. Hear me out before you dismiss the idea. Hydroponics are greatly improved from what they were even 10 years ago. Take into consideration that farm land is a vast, flat piece of dirt soaked in sunlight, and that makes skyscrapers painfully obvious.
Take a building (we’ll say 10 stories high for easy numbers) and dedicate each floor to a specific crop. Put in your dirt, irrigation system, and UV lamps and you’re half way to a real life working plot of sun soaked dirt. The first problem that cropped up (sorry, couldn’t resist) was how to harvest the newly indoor skyscraper farm.
If we’re sticking to good, old American standbys, then we’ll take corn. It costs roughly $40 per acre to harvest using a combine. I think if there were some sort of electronic harvesting mechanism built into the corn rooms, this could save drastically on cost.
And assuming the building was one square acre, according to a report published in 2013, we’d have to charge roughly $5 a bushel (with each acre of corn producing around 160 bushels) to break even. Since we’re stacking multiple acres on top of one another, wouldn’t that reduce costs as well?
Meanwhile, in the real world, this exact issue is already being addressed. Forward Thinking Architecture has proposed a triple decker floating farm that is sort of a self sustaining ecosystem. The farms would be free floating on a body of water, and each level would have its own purpose. The byproducts of each system would feed parts of the other levels. It’s ingenious. You can check out an article detailing the plans here.
So, I guess I was kind of right, I just had the wrong location.
Some ideas of what the floating farms may look like.
All of these images came from the article over at GizMag. I suggest you go read it. It’s very interesting!