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Do You Want Be An Indoor Farmer? Food for Thought and for the Body

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Vertical farming can be done in the home.

Here’s the latest news that supports the idea that future homes will be designed to integrate vertical farming and aquaculture for homeowners who want to be indoor farmers to feed their families and ensure their own food security.

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Increased Food Production Needed in the Future

A new study published in Nature Food authored by researchers from the University of Copenhagen, warns that over the next 30 years, the world will require a 30-70% increase in food production. Moreover, that to achieve these numbers, a complete overhaul is needed toward the way food is currently produced that will have to take into account environmental protection and global warming.

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According to a news release about the study, however, it will take more than just a simple tweaking to meet future challenges for feeding people.

"Unfortunately, if we are to meet the growing demand for food in the years ahead, optimizing our current methods of production will be insufficient. They just won’t do. A radical change is needed,” states Svend Christensen, a professor and the Head of Department at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences.

In collaboration with researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, Dr. Christensen and his colleagues have studied the problem and came up with some recommendations.

We have identified 75 new technologies which, combined, can transform the entire food chain — from production and processing, to consumption and waste management — to meet the demands of the future for significantly greater food production, that protects the environment and while being resilient to climate change," states Dr. Christensen.

Among those 75 new technologies, are aquafarming and vertical farming.

Aquafarming

However, just as with coming up with a solution for a problem—it often gives birth to a new problem or intensifies an older problem.

For example, a recent news release from researchers at UC Santa Barbara explains that their scientists in collaboration with other scientists and agencies are trying to come up with ways to improve the current designs of aquaculture systems in anticipation of the need to meet the world’s escalating need for more food.

One of the problems of aquafarming is that it takes an immense amount of netted wild fish to feed farmed fish.

According to news from UC Santa Barbara, “…approximately 16 million of the 29 million tons of forage fish — such as herrings, sardines and anchovies — caught globally each year are currently used for aquaculture feed.”

This current practice is being questioned by researchers who “…concluded that using novel, non-fishmeal feeds could help boost production while treading lightly on marine ecosystems and reserving more of these small, nutritious fish for human consumption.”

What they’ve determined is that other nutritional sources such as microalgae, insect protein and oils, could partially substitute for the wild fish used as fishmeal for some of the commercial species raised for market.

“Previous work has identified that species such as carps and tilapias respond well, although others such as salmon are still more dependent on fish-based feeds to maintain growth and support metabolism,” stated Richard Cottrell, a postdoctoral scholar and lead author of the study.

Vertical Farming

While researchers are looking at improving large-scale aquaculture for feeding the masses, others are promoting indoor vertical farming that can be used to feed neighborhoods and family homes.

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Investment-banker-turned-farmer Stuart Oda, shares his views on TED talks, and had this to say about where he sees the future in food lies with vertical farming:

The Benefits of Vertical Farming in the Home

The benefits of vertical farming make it very applicable for home use:

• It Saves Space—with no more space than it takes to occupy a fair-sized china cabinet, vertical farming could be used to grow stacks of herbs, or other produce right in your kitchen.

• It Saves Water— vertical farming in the home also saves a significant amount of water relative to outdoor gardening in comparison; and, can be incorporated with aeroponics or hydroponics as an additional water saving measure and benefit.

• Your home has a Controlled Environment—and so can your indoor vertical garden. Just with turn of a thermostat or an automated controller, your plants will not be subjected to weather fluctuations and pests.

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• More Food for You—growing produce under ideal conditions inside the home translates into more food for you and your family that will cost less and could make less of a carbon imprint on the environment in comparison to conventional gardening.

Getting Started with Indoor Farming in Your Home

If you think that vertical farming is right for you, several companies sell products such as this one shown in the YouTube video below to help you get a taste of food grown within your house.

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Here's a YouTube Video of a Sample of a Commercial Indoor Garden Product

If you would like to learn more about how to apply vertical gardening and aquafarming in your home, let us know in the comments section below and we will add more related topics including some DIY projects you can do without having to buy a commercial kit or system.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

References:

The future is knocking: Global food production to be transformed using new technology” University of Copenhagen news release 19 May 2020.

Fish Feed Foresight: Researchers show how fishmeal and oil alternatives can support aquaculture growth” By Sonia Fernandez Wednesday, May 20, 2020; for The Current, UC Santa Barbara News.

"Global adoption of novel aquaculture feeds could substantially reduce forage fish demand by 2030" Cottrell, R.S., Blanchard, J.L., Halpern, B.S. et al.; Nature Food 1, 301–308 (2020).

Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture?” by Stuart Oda; TED Salon: Brightline Initiative.

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