Nature never hurries, yet everything is accomplished. Humanity, on the other hand, is always in a race against the clock. And for that reason, it is coming up with all sorts of new ways to make vegetable growing faster and more efficient.
Hydroponic Vertical Gardens
Hydroponics has been around for a while. But now innovators are setting up these systems like vertical farms, with one layer of crops above another.
The reasons for this are pretty self-explanatory: if you’re growing plants inside a greenhouse, you want to make use of the maximum available space.
Of course, the biggest problem that greenhouses have is getting light to all the plant layers in this setup, but there are even solutions for that. Instead of using energy-intensive LEDs, greenhouse builders are using intelligently positioned mirrors that can reflect the sun’s rays at all levels. These negate the need for greenhouses to consume electricity while providing plants with all the light that they need.
While it might sound quite futuristic, agriculture is actually a suitable theater for robotic agriculture. That’s because, unlike many other environments, it is quite controlled. For instance, it is much easier to set up a robotic combine harvester in a field than it is to create a driverless car for the road. That’s because so much less can go wrong.
Robotic agriculture is already having an impact on productivity. In 2017, robots harvested an entire field of barley without the need for a driver to be present.
Whether this technology will take off and become mainstream depends primarily on big agribusiness. It might be cheaper to simply get software to plow and harvest fields, instead of getting farmers to do it instead.
Local Exotic Foods
Presently, important exotic foods come at a high environmental cost. First, they require harvesting in tropical countries, then transporting to western markets in refrigerated conditions. The energy requirements are tremendous.
However, geodesic domes may be about to enable humanity to have its cake and eat it. The idea is pretty simple: just recreate tropical conditions indoors close to the market.
For instance, let’s say that you want to grow mangoes. Usually, you need a tropical climate to do that. But it is something that you could achieve with the right types of advanced greenhouses. These facilities would have to offer natural solutions for keeping temperatures high in cooler months, such as using high-infrared-reflectance glass. They would also have to offer a suitable ecosystem.
You can’t make vegetables grow faster. But with soil sensors, you can make sure that you keep them in optimal conditions. By keeping track of things like soil temperature and humidity, you can ensure that you maintain suitable growing conditions throughout the season. What’s more, you can connect them to sprinklers to automatically water plants when they require it.
Some soil sensors are even more advanced. They make sure that soil has sufficient minerals, sunlight exposure and moisture. They can even warn farmers ahead of time whether future weather is going to adversely affect soil conditions.