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Feeding Seven Billion People: The Emerging Farm Tech Revolution

Bill Roth | Monday October 31st, 2011 | 0 Comments

Today, October 31, 2011, the world will have “officially” grown to 7 billion in population. Among those 7 billion, approximately one billion are malnourished. Even in America, a bread basket for the world, there is emerging awareness of “urban food deserts” where people face limited healthy food options.

The 21st Century’s farming challenge is to:

  • Grow enough food to feed our world’s population
  • Supply food that supports human health
  • Produce food that people can afford to buy.

A Farm Tech Revolution is emerging to address issues of supply, healthiness and cost. This revolution is centered around smart agricultural management using computers, hydroponics and emerging new technologies to create a competitively priced alternative to industrial farming that is dependent upon increasingly costly heavy chemical fertilization, mass water irrigation and the operation of industrial machinery on the farm, in the food processing centers and within the delivery system.

Hydroponics is a farming method of growing plants inside an enclosed structure that uses a medium other than soil and the close regulation of lighting, temperature, and nutrients to optimize crop growth. Urban hydroponics offers a path to growing price competitive fruits and vegetables in close proximity to the 80% of U.S. citizens now living in urban areas.

The economic advantages of hydroponic farming include:

Greater Yield. For example, in hydroponic tomato farming, the average per acre yield is eighteen times more than tomatoes grown in soil.

Lower Input Costs. Traditional farming is under tremendous cost pressure from the rising cost of fertilizers and water. Hydroponics farming uses approximately 1/10th the water used in traditional farming and hydroponics farming uses less fertilizer per plant than the equivalent traditional industrial farm scale plant.

Reduced Delivery Costs. Urban located hydroponic farms have a huge competitive advantage in terms of lower delivery costs. Food produced on an industrial scale farm travels an average 1500 miles to your food plate.

Increased Revenues. Hydroponic farming’s controlled environment enables year round growth of high value “seasonal” crops that offers increased annual revenues compared to traditional farms.

Managed hydroponic farming also produces meaningful environmental benefits. Urban hydroponic farming does not create the type of chemical run-off into our streams, rivers and lakes being generated by industrial farming that is generating lasting environmental damages/costs like the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that is the size of Rhode Island and Delaware, combined. The carbon footprint of hydroponic farming is much less since it does not require the massive volumes of petro-chemicals used by industrial scale farming.

Pest control is a common issue facing all farming. The following video interview with Henry Adams, CEO of BioWave conducted at the AlwaysOn GoingGreen conference for venture capitalists profiles yet another Farm Tech Revolution new technology that addresses pest controls with a solution that does not use chemicals while also increasing crop yield:

Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017. His book The Secret Green Sauce profiles the best practices of businesses making money going green. Through the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Green Builds Business program funded by Walmart he is coaching businesses and business owners in a 11-city national tour on best practices for making money and a difference within 120 days.

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