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Urban Farming of The Future: Advanced Technology for Organic Produce

By Edited Jul 16, 2016 0 0

Urban agriculture is an ancient concept, but the fact that it has modestly grown in both the developed and non-developed countries of every continent is exciting to observe.  Why is urban farming quickly becoming an international affair?  The answer to this question definitely involves two issues:  the rapid dwindling of earth’s natural resources, not to mention the spiraling global economy providing for excessive poverty in densely populated cities around the world.  Many people can relate to science fiction-inspired inventions to enhance the quality of life in various ways.  Never mind the fact that our society hasn’t yet reached that “Jetson” stage of progress.  The journey towards that stage is simply thrilling to behold, coupled with some biological technology, pure imagination and the power of human inspiration.  One tangible goal of this special endeavor is organic produce, set to feed a hungry world with the nutrition that it is literally starving for at an alarming rate. 

Urban farming or agriculture is formally defined as the cultivation and dispensation of food in or near an urban dwelling, which can be a city, village or town.  Typically, the main purpose for this type of farming is to combat the lack of food for an impoverished metropolis.  Not only would hunger greatly diminish, but the local economy would be stimulated as well:  community members would usually sell the excess produce to nearby grocers or other businesses and/or consumers.  Over countless centuries, this practice has taken many different appearances around the world.  Countries as exotic as Persia and Machu Picchu have been known to reuse community wastes and water to sustain their growing populations.  In other words, they have been “green” since ancient times without even realizing it!

Besides America, many other nations are focusing their scientific efforts on yielding better organic produce.  For the sake of a consistent example, let’s use organic tomatoes for this query.  Growing tomatoes is a multibillion dollar industry, and there are two types of crops available for the consumer market:  determinate, which bear their fruit all at one time, and indeterminate, which gradually bear their fruit during the course of the season.  Israel can successfully produce about 400 tons of tomatoes on average, and here is one reason why:  There are currently new greenhouse prototypes being put up for sale from this country.  These modern agricultural wonders even incorporate computers into them for specific control of the climate, water and fertilization of the crops.  Furthermore, there are supplies to accompany the greenhouses that include fans, humidity sensors, de-humidifiers, various types of irrigation systems, cooling pads and thermal screens.  Even the developers of the software are taking initiative by keeping a close relationship with the growers, whether in urban farming, mass production companies or small businesses.  Israel is even going a step further by selling compact, portable greenhouses made of the latest green plastics.  They are both recyclable and sustainable.  Who knew that growing organic produce could be so high-tech?

Scientists in Cuba are currently testing new theories for organic pest control, building from the traditional and present uses to combat different types of critters.  There are innovative bug vacuums, which could prove quite beneficial to the growers of both tomatoes and other organic produce.  It’s bad enough that pests are growing resistant to most pesticides.  There are also advances in organic fertilizers (both liquid and granule types), the prevention of agri-chemical wastes, as well as improvements in aquifers and estuaries.  For a small country, these are big technological advancements on the future horizon.

The United States is also researching soil as the catalyst for a nearly perfect organic tomato.  Soil fertility is an obvious factor in the successful growth rate of a crop, but organic nitrogen plays an even larger role in production:  the sweetness, firmness, generally larger sizes and quicker ripening abilities speak for themselves.  Since tomato plants cannot manufacture their own nitrogen, it must be acquired from various organic sources:  compost, manure, tilled legumes, alfalfa meal, feather meal, etc.  A professor in California is currently comparing the differences between nitrogen-enriched soil and the growing of both organic and traditional tomatoes.  Published findings will continue for decades, as the experiments are slow and tedious.  However, the scientists are also trying to avoid two dangerous extremes:  nitrogen deficiency and excess, which can not only lead to damage of the crops but potential health hazards for humans.  A delicate balance is required to achieve the perfect result, which is well worth the wait.  Just ask any farmer or avid gardener, and he/she will confirm this notion. 

NASA is currently in collaboration with Europe to design a self-sustaining food source that will not only revolutionize urban farming, but utilize clean and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and water options.  Its proposed name is the agropolis, which will encompass an organic farm, grocery store and restaurant all in one place.  This will eliminate the need to transport organic produce to the masses, cutting out our carbon footprint by rendering the need for earth’s precious fuels useless.  Food preservatives would also become obsolete.  Vertical farming techniques can include growing tomatoes on the walls and/or trellises, not to mention advances in hydroponics, geoponics, aeroponics, and many other growth alternatives.  As a result, customers can pick the freshest produce, literally from the vines.  Naturally, there would also be free-range poultry, livestock, fish-harvesting, etc.  Despite the fact that it would be a huge complex, it would definitely be a “one-stop shop”.  What if it were possible to take all purchases to the included restaurant and practically dictate the menu for a meal?  Nutrition and the economy would both be changed forever. 

In conclusion, the technological advancements of urban farming to benefit organic produce can only get better with time.  To truly appreciate what can occur in the future, it is best to take an exhilarating look at the present.  World hunger, economical depression and other complex issues of civilization could very well become historical things of the past.  To be fair, societies of the past have tried to reach this organic utopia, but to no avail.  Why not?  Technology wasn’t as advanced, and its potential had not yet peaked.  Thankfully, today’s evolutions will definitely provide a pathway for tomorrow’s improvements. 



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