According to the UN Food and agriculture organisation (UNFAO), by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9.1 billion, but it’s looking more to be around the 10 billion mark. Currently, and unsurprisingly, the global urban population outnumbers the rural population. This inevitably results in a greater demand for resources within cities. Because of these demands, there is a need for change within the infrastructure of the food production industry. Urban Agricultural technology or Agritech is therefore becoming a recognised route to establish an economically sustainable direction within the urban infrastructure, primarily through means of hydroponic systems and aquaponic systems, which could both be integrated into vertical farming (VF) concepts of the not too far away future. Let’s begin with Hydroponics. It is a method of using mineral nutrient solutions in water without the use of soil to grow plants. In the Greek language, ‘hydroponics’ translates as ‘agriculture without soil’, which is also its definition. It dates to the 18th century when scholars realised plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions, which are in a dissolved form in water. Only now, at the apex of technological innovation, countless years since that discovery, are we able reap its full potential. This is mainly due to advancements in plastic production, software, and sensor technology. As well as an ever-increasing demand for ethically and sustainable production means.
But the methodology of hydroponics can also be applied to fish farming too. In countries where fluctuations in food prices can result in massive food insecurity and malnourishment, aquaponic systems could be the answer. A simple summary of aquaponics could be described as a system whereby fish waste from a fish tank can be absorbed by plants as a form of nutrients using the same circulatory systems as hydroponics, providing a rich protein resource as well as produce.
Vertical farming is the creation of an artificial farming environment within a vertical structure. Vertical farming, as the name suggests is the method of increasing the use of land by growing crops vertically in building structures like skyscrapers in design. Both hydroponics, and aquaponics offer a straightforward solution to the underlying problems within the food and agriculture sector, and vertical farming holds the key to its implementation.
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