El Niño and the truth about Local Food: Exploring AgTech Trends Pt.4

Multiple varieties growing at the same time at Eden Green in Cleburne, Tx.

As the world grapples with the growing challenges of climate change and water scarcity, the need for innovative agricultural practices has never been more critical. Enter indoor farming. One of the key advantages of indoor farming is its remarkable ability to resist drought conditions, ensuring stable food production regardless of the climatic challenges outside. We like to say at Eden Green, “You can grow whatever, whenever.” In this blog post, we will explore how indoor farming harnesses technology and controlled environments to cultivate crops in a water-efficient manner.

  1. Controlled Environments and Water Optimization: Unlike traditional farming methods, indoor farming allows for precise control of environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, and light. By creating tailored conditions, indoor farms optimize water usage and minimize wastage. Sophisticated irrigation systems are employed, utilizing techniques like drip irrigation, hydroponics, or aeroponics. These methods deliver water directly to plant roots in measured amounts, significantly reducing water loss through evaporation and runoff. By precisely regulating water supply, indoor farming achieves exceptional water-use efficiency, making it less vulnerable to drought conditions.

  2. Recirculating Systems and Water Recycling: Indoor farming employs recirculating systems that capture and reuse water. Unlike conventional farming, where excess water seeps into the ground or evaporates, indoor farms collect and treat runoff water, ensuring it is not lost. This recycled water is then reintroduced into the irrigation system, reducing the overall water demand. Moreover, advanced filtration techniques are used to remove impurities and maintain water quality. By implementing these closed-loop systems, indoor farming significantly minimizes water wastage and decreases the reliance on freshwater sources, making it a sustainable alternative in regions experiencing severe drought.

  3. Efficient Space Utilization and Crop Yield: Indoor farming maximizes space utilization by employing vertical farming techniques. Utilizing stacked layers or grow vines, crops can be grown vertically, optimizing land use. This efficient space management allows for higher crop yields compared to traditional agriculture(Eden Green boasts a 1-40 acre ratio). By growing more food in less space, indoor farms contribute to reducing the pressure on water resources, as well as curbing deforestation and soil degradation. Moreover, the controlled environment ensures ideal growing conditions, leading to accelerated growth cycles and higher crop productivity. This not only improves food security during droughts but also provides a consistent supply of fresh produce throughout the year.

  4. Flexibility and Adaptability: Indoor farming's ability to function independently of external climatic conditions gives it an edge in drought-prone regions. By relying on artificial lighting, climate control, and water-efficient systems, indoor farms are not constrained by seasons or reliant on rainwater. This flexibility allows farmers to adjust crop production to meet changing market demands, mitigating the risks associated with water scarcity. Additionally, indoor farming's suitability for urban areas brings agriculture closer to consumers, reducing transportation costs and environmental impact. Its adaptability and scalability make it a valuable solution for sustainable food production in both arid regions and densely populated cities.

Indoor farming is revolutionizing agriculture with its drought-resistant capabilities. Through its controlled environments, water optimization techniques, recirculating systems, efficient space utilization, and adaptability, indoor farming offers a sustainable and resilient solution to water scarcity challenges. By reducing water wastage, increasing crop yields, and providing a year-round supply of fresh produce, indoor farming presents a promising alternative to traditional farming methods. As we continue to face the consequences of climate change, investing in innovative practices like indoor farming is crucial to secure our food systems and create a more sustainable future.

Here are 4 articles we found that outline some of the other technological advancements within the agricultural space.

Scientific American | Space Farmers of the Future May Grow Fungi, Flies and Microgreens

From the Article:

“Chances are, for most people, the term “space food” brings to mind chalky, crumbly “astronaut ice cream,” which is actually mostly a myth. Crumbly foods are a big no-no in astronautics because bits adrift in microgravity can wreak untold havoc on delicate spacecraft components.

Visitors to the International Space Station typically eat sturdier, nonperishable stuff from vacuum-sealed packages. Back in the day, Apollo-era astronauts dined on freeze-dried, cube-shaped delicacies such as shrimp cocktail and date fruitcake. Some of these were, apparently, appetizing. “Happiness is bacon squares for breakfast,” proclaimed Apollo 8 crew member Jim Lovell while midway to the moon in 1968.”

Sifted | Infarm quits Europe as vertical farming withers on the vine 

From the Article:

“Infarm, once Europe’s largest vertical farming company, is now leaving the continent entirely, Sifted understands. Infarm previously had operations in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

The company’s Berlin HQ is to close, according to emails among staff seen by Sifted, with one former business partner describing it as “a ghost town”. Its flagship UK facility — a 10k sq m farm in Bedford — is listed as “permanently closed” on Google Maps and calls to its French office went unanswered last week. Its operations in Copenhagen have reportedly already ceased. 

German supermarket chains Aldi and Kaufland both confirmed that their partnerships with Infarm had ended and that customers could no longer find produce from the vertical farms in their stores.  British supermarket Marks and Spencer also confirmed to Sifted it has ended its partnership with Infarm.

When asked whether Infarm was leaving Europe, CEO Erez Galonska said it had “decided to shift its geographical focus from Europe to high-potential regions better suited for indoor farming”. Infarm has previously said it plans to expand to the Middle East.”

From the Article

The Guardian | The truth about ‘local’ food in US supermarkets: ‘It’s a marketing gimmick’

From the Article:

“There was never well-defined agreement about what the term actually meant, though. According to Food Tank founder Danielle Nierenberg, “local” is usually understood to refer to food grown within 100 miles (160km) of where it’s sold and eaten, a perception bolstered by books such as The 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon. But the US Department of Agriculture’s definition of “local” in the 2008 Farm Bill includes food grown in the same state or within 400 miles (640km) of where it is finally marketed – and even that definition isn’t regulated the way a label such as “organic” is.

That’s led to a lack of clarity and consistency in how the term is deployed in supermarkets across the country, with each grocer defining the label for itself. In the produce aisle at a HarvesTime in Chicago, for example, microgreens classified as local are grown at a farm about 45 miles (70km) away in Carpentersville, Illinois. At a Union Market in Brooklyn, the “local eggs” category includes cartons from a farm 158 miles (250km) away in Pennsylvania, one 17 miles (27km) away in New Jersey and another 270 miles (430km) away in upstate New York”

Successful Farming | Amid drought, El Niño has arrived

From the Article:

“Crop conditions suffered last week, which was about one degree above normal but had slightly less than half of the typically expected rainfall, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on Monday.

About 70% of the state’s corn crop and about 66% of soybeans were rated good or excellent in the USDA report. Those represent declines of 2 and 4 percentage points.

“Though the more seasonal temperatures have helped alleviate some moisture stress in both corn and soybeans, we are now in an ‘El Niño Advisory’ and outlooks thankfully indicate more rainfall chances through the end of the month,” said Mike Naig, the state’s agriculture secretary.

The amount of available moisture in the soil for growing crops diminished last week. About 40% of the state’s topsoil has adequate or surplus moisture.

That is less than half the amount of topsoil that had sufficient moisture for crops compared with last year. The situation is similar for subsoil, which buffered the drought last year and helped sustain the growing crops. Corn roots can go four or more feet deep.

“I think a key difference between this year and last year is that we had more subsoil moisture to start the season,” said Aaron Saeugling, an Iowa State University Extension field agronomist who monitors the southwest part of the state. “That, for me, is the key difference. Eventually, we’re going to need some measurable precipitation once we get into the tasseling stage.””


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