Air QualityClean GrowthEnvironment & ClimateSustainability

Food. We need it to survive. How are farming methods changing to accommodate Earth’s growing population?

By September 9, 2021 No Comments

The way we live, the way we travel & the way we eat are changing at an astonishing pace.

The pace of life post lockdown seems to have sped up at an alarming rate & the environmental impact of our need for quick food fixes is being felt.

The most recent IPCC Report being hailed as a ‘Code Red’ for humanity, is a very stark reminder of the climate changes surrounding us & how these will impact humans, animals, mammals & biodiversity now & in the future.

One of the area’s of concern is not only the population explosion which is currently at an estimated 7.9 billion people (2021) but how is planet Earth going to be able to sustainably feed them all & provide enough fresh drinking water?

The human race produces more than enough food to feed the global population – but more than 810 million are still without enough food to sustain them & their families. (1)

Alarmingly, roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year – approximately 1.3 billion tonnes – gets lost or wasted. (2)

Despite these facts, it is predicted that by 2030 the human population of Earth will have grown to approximately 10.9 billion & despite the fact that 1.3 billion tonnes of food already get lost or wasted each year, if recent trends continue; the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million. (3)

Therefore, with this in mind there are many food production innovators, who are bucking traditional farming methods for alternatives which are more sustainable. Here are three examples of farming innovators forging ahead with alternative farming methods, for a sustainable & alternative farming future.

Vertical farming.

Vertical farming enables crops to be grown in a controlled environment, where they can receive just the right amount of heat, light, water & nutrients, & can be harvested when they are in peak condition.

Using hydroponics means farmers do not need to use soil to grow their crops, much less water is used & can be recycled many times & can increase crop yields by up to 500% per unit land area compared to more traditional farming.

One British company thriving in the vertical farming industry are Shockingly Fresh. Based in Edinburgh, Shockingly Fresh are currently developing five sites, with plans afoot to build dozens of indoor vertical farms. Increased yields from the farms could help British growers boost crop production & reduce the UK’s reliance on costly off-season imports from the EU.(4)

Aquaculture & underwater farming.

Nemo’s Garden is an underwater farming project consisting of six air-filled plastic pods, or biospheres, anchored at the bottom of the sea off the coast of Noli, Italy. (5)

The plastic pods are anchored at different levels from between 4.5 – 11 metres below the water’s surface. Each pod has sensors which measure carbon dioxide, oxygen levels, humidity, air temperature & illumination.

The Ocean Reef Group started the project in 2021 & they have already harvested tomatoes, courgettes, beans, herbs, orchids & aloe vera all using hydroponic techniques.

The salt water evaporating on the inside of the pods helps generate fresh water for watering & as the plants are grown underwater, no pesticides are needed as no pests can enter the pods, unless they are introduced.

Seawater & Solar farming.

The Sundrop Farm in Adelaide, Australia has transformed farming & is harnessing the power of seawater & the sun to create fully sustainable food production.

Fast hydroponic greenhouses have been set up on degraded land in arid areas, which is usually not suitable for crop production.

The giant greenhouses convert seawater into fresh water for irrigation & the entire farm is powered by a solar energy, which is in abundance in Adelaide. Sundrop Farm then use sustainably sourced carbon dioxide & nutrients to maximise the growth of their crops. (6)

The need for alternative food production to protect dwindling biodiversity & provide sustainable food chains for an ever growing population; goes hand in hand with the human need to dramatically reduce GHG’s, carbon emissions & halt deforestation.

Written by Katy Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2