Technology is becoming more efficient and automated, leading to food production that is now capable of becoming abundant and healthier. With vertical farm technology and low energy/low impact cultivation methods such as hydroponics, aquaponics, aeroponics and soilless methods, agriculture and food production methods can become efficient. For example, in Singapore, a low energy/low impact vertical farm system was custom built in a transparent enclosure. The system utilizes one liter of water per tower, collected from a rainwater-fed overhead reservoir, and costs about $3 per month to run. This hydraulic expenditure system leaves a small environmental footprint, and requires minimal energy equivalent to lighting a 40-watt light bulb. Vertical farming is reported as ten times more productive per square foot than conventional farming, saving more resources and energy.8
The technological innovations surrounding agriculture are certainly advancements to highlight, although newer methods of cultivation seem to alarm large portions of academic professionals, consumers and farmers. These methods consist of GM technology and synthetic fertilizers. There seems to be some positive attributes surrounding GM technology, yet those attributes rarely crossover into the field of agriculture. GM and gene editing technologies pose potential benefits in the field of biology. The advancements here also receive an enormous amount of criticism, however it may hold potential reward over the risks that hover over agriculture. GM technologies aren’t a stable form of food cultivation much less optimization, therefore open source seed initiatives that maintains fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide will help ensure the availability of germplasm, which in turn will decentralize agriculture alleviating the industry to incentivize more organic food production. It’s not enough to advocate for food optimization, therefore, food quality and sustainability is a priority for the future of food production. This leads me to the next method of production; permaculture is also a natural and productive way to maximize food production. Permaculture is the brilliant way of intelligently combining agriculture with technology to reach regenerative, self-maintained agricultural systems modeled after nature’s remarkable ecosystem. It’s a system that integrates many factors needed to upkeep a sustainable system of agriculture.
Our excuses as a society fail miserably when considering the milestones of innovation and technological advancements through agriculture. These possibilities could have alleviated the many shortcomings humans have with food insufficiencies. It is time to efficiently allocate our financial resources for the intelligent production of our food sources. Our level of food waste and inefficiency does not need to of this magnitude. In the words of food waste researcher Valentin Thurn, “the number of calories that end up in the garbage in North America and Europe would be sufficient to feed the hungry of this world three times over.”
Portable soilless farm
Japanese vertical farm lettuce production
Singapore vertical farm