Saudi Arabia is on its way to the future of farming; a brand new aeroponic, soil-less, sunless, pesticide-less, low-energy farm was just installed in the town of Jeddah. The farm was created by AeroFarm, a company that manufactures a new type of hydroponic growing unit that uses a recyclable cloth material, instead of soil to anchor plants. The system provides nutrition to plants with air circulation, a nutrient rich mist and an array of low-energy, LED lighting. The farms can grow fresh local produce indoors year-round in cold climates and because of their low-water usage are perfect for desert climates — with soil degradation and climate change becoming a problem around the world these things might come in handy.
AeroFarm units are unique in the hydroponic world because they can be vertically stacked and can be scaled up to grow a vast amount of food. The farms use less than 10% of the water needed for conventional farming and a water vapor reclamation system can be installed — the farm in Jeddah has one — to maximize water usage and minimize the need for an outside water source. With Earth’s population centers moving more toward cities these farming systems could provide fresh, local produce to people living in urban centers without incurring transportation expenses — and carbon emissions. The farms are easy to maintain, have low operating costs and provide predictable yields throughout the year making them highly profitable.
“Our goal is to grow indoors without the use of a greenhouse or sunlight, and to provide 100 percent of our own water by collecting humidity from the air. This is step one,” noted Luke Sestito, president of The DeLeon Group, which commissioned the Jeddah farm. “We then want to use solar and wind power to make our farms fully self-sustaining.” The Jeddah farm is the first aeroponic farm in the Middle East. It is meant to be a beacon of sustainable farming in that area of the world, hopefully showing other communities that fresh, local produce is entirely possible as long as you’ve got a roof and some electricity — preferably from a wind turbine or solar panel. Though we would love to solve this ruining our natural resources problem first, at least we know that if we demolish all our farmland and our climate, we’ve got a backup plan.
WHY THIS MATTERS:
Transporting food from farms to people’s plates emits tons of carbon each year. Aerofarms could be the key to providing fresh, local produce to people living in urban centers in a way that saves carbon emissions – and makes for fresher, healthier food.
Via Saudi Gazette