By 2050, 85 percent of an estimated 9 billion people will be living in cities, and food and water shortages will threaten the world’s growing population. Dutch firm PlantLab says that most existing agricultural practices deplete natural resources and damage the planet. They’re developing revolutionary growing methods to allow plants to flourish in underground boxes, using less energy, less space, and far less water than conventional methods. Check out these images to see what the farms of the future could look like.
PlantLab’s vision is that our growing population will have access to affordable, safe and nutritious food via urban farming. “The farmers of the future will be in the basements, not the fields,” predicts PlantLab’s Marcel Kers. “We are growing the best vegetables and tomatoes and herbs in the basements. It will bring food production back to where we live [the cities], creating thousands of jobs.”
High tech “plant paradise” units provide ideal growing conditions via red and far red LED lighting and use only 10 percent of the water a traditional farm requires.
Sophisticated algorithms keep conditions optimum for each type of plant so that crop yields are up to 3 times greater than the best greenhouse, and up to 40 times higher than an open field. They can be stacked on top of one another, thus saving on space, and are isolated from the uncertain conditions of the natural environment. “Success is independent of drought, disease and pests.”
To feed 9 million people 200g of fruit veg and herbs each per day, the creators of the Plant Production Unit say we would need only one quarter of the land area of the Netherlands.
We are unlikely to see PlantLab farms popping up in our cities for at least a few more years. The biggest reason behind the delay are the LED lights. Despite costs plummeting and power efficiency for these bulbs following Moore’s Law (doubling every two years) they are still cost-prohibitive for commercial agriculture. Marcel Kers and his colleagues are convinced however, that the price for LEDs will continue to fall exponentially until PlantLab productions are financially realistic.