Vegetable cultivation of the future

Vegetables are healthy - and popular. For years, the demand has risen in Germany. Most of it is planted and harvested in open fields - only one percent comes from the greenhouse. However cultivation takes up space. This might change in the future, three concepts for agriculture are:



Idea number 1: Vertical Farming
The whole idea of tower greenhouses has existed since the 1960s, but it is only now that the first actual buildings are being erected. Vegetables in a high-rise grow one above the other instead of side by side. In 2014 Singapore's commercial vertical farm went into operation and got a lot of media attention. Half a year of growing vegetables in steel containers has been practiced and researched at the Technical College in Wigan in the United Kingdom. And even in Germany the idea is begining to flourish. Maximilian Lössl from Munich has precisely calculated the needs of his vertical farm "Agrilution" and will be ready for production in one year. The vegetables in a closed circuit system need up to 98 percent less water than in conventional agriculture, and up to 60 percent less fertilizer - and you can reach two to three times faster growth rates. In Lössls start-up company "Agrilution" quite a number of international investors are interested.

Conclusion: Vertical Farming has been mentioned for some time as a solution for vegetable growing in the future. Thanks to modern technologies such as effective insulation, network systems, LED lighting and robotics a conversion might be successful.

Idea number 2: The algae farm
There are approximately 200 different edible species of algae - for decades they have been labelled as a super vegetables, packed with protein and vitamins. However with us they are mainly used for food colouring or food supplements. Growing and harvesting algae as a vegetable like in Asia is slowly finding its place in Europe. In the Baltic sea off the coast of Denmark two biologists have cultivated the sea vegetables for four years. In the first year four tons of algae were sold to the Danes and now they annually sell tens of tons of algae. Danish food producers now offer vegetarian sausages and pasta sauces from algae - more products to follow.

Conclusion: Fresh algae as a vegetable are still a niche product. But the demand is increasing - slowly but steadily. Given their qualities they could soon play a more important role as a source of nutrients.

Idea number 3: City Farms
The idea comes from Detroit, the former US car-producing stronghold. With the decline of the industry, the city experienced a dramatic change: jobs were cut, people moved away, and supermarkets closed. Suddenly there was a real lack of fresh food.
The inhabitants started to grow their vegetables first in their own gardens, then everywhere in open areas. Currently people in Detroit produce of all the food they need. Urban Gardening - not as a hobby, but as a new form of organized agriculture in a big city. A German research team has recently begun to create a map on which all the major urban agricultural projects are recorded worldwide. There are nearly 100 projects already. Researchers have calculated that in Berlin alone more than 7,000 roof areas would be suitable for growing food.

Conclusion: Completely soil independent agriculture is not yet imaginable. Conventional farming will probably always exist - but now it will be combined with completely new forms.

Author: Doris Tromballa (BR)

Source: www.daserste.de


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