"Farming in the Sky"
The Atlantic recently published a great article that gives a survey of vertical farming during this awkward growth spurt it's undergoing. It's one of the most dynamic growth spurts in agricultural history, largely because of what's at stake.
"There is, even in Texas, only so much usable surface area, and so much irrigable water to maintain future commercial crops, and it made me wonder: What would a truly modern crop look like?" -Adrian Shirk, The Atlantic
Vertical farming is stepping into the spotlight... and it's not exactly what people have imagined. After all, the classic vertical farming concepts were dreams and inventions thought up by people before the technology was ready. They haven't had a chance to be performed, but they are the first thing that comes to mind when someone sees the words, "vertical farm".
This misconception of how vertical farming does (and will) look is slowly being overturned as real-life technology gets mixed in with those old established dreams.
"There are grow towers, rooftops, and industry talk of Waterworld-style 'plant factories' in futuristic floating cities. "
And real-life technology does exist. Not as floating cities or space farms, of course. We can't rule those out, but we know that they certainly can't (and shouldn't) happen without first developing technology that is realistic. Vertical farming operations have to fit a bill of viability.
If they can't be
a) biologically viable,
b) operationally viable, and
c) economically viable...
then they die.
This is the natural selection of the developing industry, and what remains is the technology that works.
Only two things lend this (un)natural selection some mercy.
The first is the fact that even if a technology fails to survive the business world, it can be rethought and reworked, then tried again. It's a good thing too, because we don't have much time to think up better agricultural technologies.
We need fast technological development, and in this progression, technologies have a second chance at achieving that.
The second thing can turn out either well or badly.
As Shirk noted in her article, vertical farming traditionalists are convinced that government backing would be needed to boost vertical farming to reality. And it's true that government backing can be helpful - if the right technologies are backed.
If only we could look forward in time and see which technologies would thrive, government backing could accelerate their growth. In the absence of this insight, however, backers will just have to do their research and make informed guesses about which technologies those will be.
As for us, well... you know what we do. We've done the research and we're backing the right technology in our own way.
Click here to read the rest of the Atlantic's article.