Controlled Farming

The global population is continuing to rise yet the planet's resources remain finite. The agricultural lands dedicated to farming will not expand. In fact, these are getting smaller as people build more homes and factories in rural areas. Food producers are facing increasing difficulties trying to cope with the soaring demand. If they can't feed the billions of mouths on this Earth, then the consequences can be catastrophic. The good news is that we still have time to find answers. Innovations are clearly needed as we head into an uncertain future. One of the proposed solutions is to bring farming to urban areas.

Open vs Controlled Environment

Open farming is a type of urban food production that relies on existing structures like rooftops to host vegetation. Homeowners can starting growing crops on their own properties to boost their independence. Given the limited size of most houses, families are likely to produce only a small amount of harvest. On the other hand, farming in a controlled environment can cover a larger space. The farms may be located inside structures. They are covered on all sides to protect them from non-ideal conditions. Dust control measures are implemented. Temperature is set at an optimal level. Water and lighting are provided in a highly managed fashion. Examples are greenhouses and hydroponic farms.

More information on Dust control

Benefits of Controlled Farming

1. Productivity

The biggest benefit gained from controlling the environment is the massive increase in production. Since the weather is no longer an issue, crops can be planted all year round. It doesn't matter if it's hot or cold outside. The temperature will always be ideal inside the farm. Food producers will not have to consult the calendar or change to a different crop depending on the season. High value crops can be grown continuously for maximum profits, thereby making the endeavor sustainable. This is a much more efficient way of growing food. Every square inch can be squeezed to yield greater harvests.

2. Decreased Toxicity

Another good thing about this type of farming is that bugs will not be much of a problem. The things that usually pester farmers will be gone. The crops can grow without the fear of insects eating them overnight or wreaking havoc. This also means that farmers do not need to use as much pesticides as they generally do. There will be less chemicals mixing with the base and getting into the crops. The vegetables and fruits harvested will look great and taste so much better. Consumers will be able to taste the difference.

3. Lower Distribution Cost

Since these controlled farms are already in the cities, they have millions of eager consumers waiting for them outside the door. The harvest does not need to be transported for hundreds of miles just to get to the buyers. The stores are often a few blocks away. The distribution cost is therefore much lower than what rural farms have to contend with. This makes the price even more competitive and affordable for the buyers. Reduced travel also means that there is less fuel burned. Therefore, there are less harmful gasses released into the atmosphere.

Challenges

Right now, there are still very few urban farms and so their contribution to the overall food production is quite small. The techniques are yet to be perfected. The cost should also come down in order to make this more feasible for the average farmer. Promising new technologies are being developed to solve these issues. Automation and energy-efficient lighting are seen as helping the cause. Once profitability increases, the incentive will naturally lead businesses to develop bigger urban farms.