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Urban Agriculture is the Future of Farming

Nine billion hungry human beings will be living on planet Earth by 2050, according to United Nations estimates.

Along with an increasing population, the world faces climate change, rising fossil fuel prices, ecosystem degradation, and water and land scarcity, all of which are making today’s food production methods increasingly unsustainable.

The need for solutions is driving important new agricultural innovations, in particular, Closed Environment Agriculture (CEA) in urban areas.

Why Urban Agriculture?

Urban agriculture means food production in densely populated areas, and it features many types of production systems, including traditional open gardens, protected environments, hydroponic greenhouses, and converted shipping containers. These indoor facilities are ideal for that superior mix of natural sunlight and the powerful artificial lights favored in grow rooms.

Urban agriculture offers a promising path toward the goal of feeding the planet’s growing, and increasingly urban population. Many of the tools to make that path viable come from CEA.

What is Closed Environment Agriculture (CEA)?

CEA is a technology-based approach toward food production, it involves a combination of engineering, plant science, and computer-managed facility control technologies to optimize plant growing systems, plant quality, and production efficiency. The aim of CEA is to provide protection and maintain optimal growing conditions throughout the development of the crop, whatever it may be.

Production takes place within an enclosed growing structure such as a converted shipping container or purpose-built greenhouses and buildings. Plants are typically grown using methods in order to supply the proper amounts of water and nutrients to the plant roots. CEA optimizes the use of resources such as water, energy, space, capital, labor, and controls the variables such as:
• Temperature (air, nutrient solution, root-zone, leaf)
• Humidity (%RH)
• Carbon dioxide (CO2)
• Light (intensity, spectrum, duration, and intervals)
• Nutrient concentration
• Nutrient pH (acidity)
• Pests

CEA technologies include hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics. These technologies provide all year round growing conditions by extending the growing season and ensuring product quality of microgreens and herbs, CEA complements but does not replace field crop production, however, it leads to considerable water, power, and space savings.

Urban Farming vs. Traditional Farming

Systems such as urban farming systems use about 90% less water and 4 times less space when compared to traditional farming. Urban farming forces farmers to grow crops in an even more controlled and conscious manner, which leads to more possibilities to grow organic food without extra investment.

The main reason something isn’t organic is because the farmer is forced to use chemical pesticides to ensure a good yield when the environmental factors are not crop-friendly. Environmental factors are reduced to a minimum in urban farming, so there is no actual need for using chemical growth regulators. All it takes is good quality soil that contains nutrients, excellent lighting systems, and good quality nutrient-rich water.

The more we switch our everyday food production to CEA urban farms rather than regular farms, the more we decrease the development of drought, soil erosion, and similar problems.

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