Friday, April 1, 2011

WORLD - When the farmer no longer grounded

Agricultural production on farms and greenhouses is not doomed. Nevertheless, it is very likely that in the years to come the mass of products shipped to cities decreases. And thanks to the amazing ability to produce high, inside large buildings directly exposed to sunlight. Businessmen and mayors of large cities are already showing interest in this idea of vertical farms housed in real skyscrapers.

But the first stone is when? Skepticism is always appreciated as someone does not materialize this type of project. And one can easily guess why: thirty stories represent an investment of 154 million euros. "If the climate is changing and if population growth continues in the next fifty years, agriculture as we know it will cease to exist.

This means that the majority of the population will be found quickly without sufficient food and water. "Thus, a theorist, American D. Dickson Despommier, professor of public and environmental health at Columbia University [New York] in 1999 has justified the need to embark on the construction of true vertical farms.

Architectural firms, engineering and design were immediately take up the challenge. The first projects are thus emerged: building pyramid in New York, cylindrical tower in Chicago or vertical orchard in Brisbane. Production of food in glass skyscrapers would sequester carbon in the city, drastically reducing consumption of fossil fuels and their harmful emissions to the atmosphere, also to reduce the water used.

In fact, the system is based on the technique of culture in hydroponics that involves immersing the roots in a solution containing water and nutrients, this technique is not very water-intensive and not at all in the ground. A thirty-story building would produce the equivalent of 970 hectares to 50 000 consumers while emitting methane for energy recyclable.

Constant exposure of cultures to sunlight and artificial ensure the multiplication of annual crops (four, at least). Besides the gardens and orchards, spaces are reserved for aquaculture, raising chickens and pigs. Parasites disappear and cultures are protected from drought, rain and wind.

Opponents of this type of culture brandish the economic argument: high construction costs and land acquisition in the city. In a 2008 edition of U.S. magazine Scientific American, devoted to "Solutions for sustainable progress," Despommier says more about the concept and denies it is to implement GM food: "Growth in interior will be more beneficial to crops, as it will ensure optimum conditions for plants with a temperature, humidity and nutrient adapted.

When it's 36 ° C and the humidity is 80% in the street, you feel better in a building where it is 22 ° C and the humidity is 25%. Why would we not the same with our cultures? "Julian Cribb, a professor of communications at the University of Technology Sydney is one of the supporters Despommier:" Farmers peripheries will not disappear, however, they will have to adapt and to double their production by using only two-thirds of the water they consume today, cultivating their products in more degraded lands and less extensive and knowing that they will suffer much more from climate change and destruction of their crops.

One solution requires the adoption of high-tech technologies in agriculture. Think of the gardens of Babylon adapted to the digital age. "But who wants those towers? And who has money to build them? Not many people, but it begins to move. Despommier says that there are conversations committed to building a prototype in the future eco-city Dongtan China, an island near Shanghai.

And an attempt to erect a five storey building is planned in New York at a cost of 15 million to 23 million euros. It remains to convince the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who wants to make a green and sustainable city by 2030.

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