Soil-Free Farming Grows Vegetables in the Desert

  1. Technology (http://www.livescience.com/42835-soil-free-farming-grows-vegetables-in-the-desert.html)

Agricel is a Dubai-based venture which hopes to expand film farming technology across the U.A.E where water scarcity is a central problem. With the film farming system, plants are grown on a hydromembrane invented by Professor Dr Yuichi Mori of Waseda University in Japan which is made up of water-soluble polymer and hydrogel. Each internal cell within the film adsorbs and holds water and plant nutrients, preventing evaporation and surface loss.

The soil-free technology allows users to reap several benefits. Using Agricel’s technology, farms require 90% less water than traditional methods, while also using 80% less chemicals and producing 50% higher yields. The incidence of diseases by pathogens (bacteria, viruses, etc.) is also fully controlled even without chemicals, because the pathogens cannot penetrate the hydromembrane. The growing method causes the plants to increase their sugar production and amino acids in order to absorb the water. The byproduct of this is produce that is sweeter and more vitamin rich.

water2bsaving2bfilm

  1. Sustainability Problem

Agricel seeks to ease the daunting task of feeding future generations in an increasingly uncertain climate and world. By promoting film farming and the use of hydrophillic boosters, they have focused their efforts on more efficient water use and fighting world hunger.

This technology reduces the amount of water and fertilizer needed in plants which means crops can be grown in water scarce regions or regions with poor quality soil. The film is versatile and can be placed on nearly any surface such as concrete, bricks or even sand and greenhouse, and in nearly any climate. Hydrogel can be mixed into the local sandy soil, boosting water retention and nutrient distribution.

  1. Stakeholders
  • Agriculture industry
  • Urban and traditional farmers
  • Material researchers
  1. Implementation Process

Launched in 2010, the Agricel network is primarily based in Japan but has since extended to China, Pakistan, Nigeria, the U.A.E, U.K. and Australia. The range of test pilots with successful results allow them to prove the technology’s adaptability.

They are now focusing on partnering with organizations which do not necessarily have the farming technologies or experience but have powerful distribution networks, negotiation capabilities and confidence in the technology to provide safe, reliable and highly nutritive produce. This will allow the technology to be implemented on a larger scale, leveraging partners’ existing network and Agricel’s technical expertise.

Despite the many benefits of film farming, the foremost barrier to implementation is the high cost. The hydrogel film is sold at around $2,000/ acre with a professional installation of about $2 million. However the company suggests that the initial investment will be returned between 18-24 months due to the low operational costs of the farm, in addition to the increased yield and improved quality of the produce.

For their next steps, the company hopes with their expanding scope and scale of technology implementation that continuous R&D could lead to the application of film farming in industrial production.

why-film-farming

 

Sources:

Agricel, Why Film Farming: http://www.agricel.co/why-film-farming.html

Appropedia, Film Farming: http://www.appropedia.org/Film_Farming

Hydrate Life, Water Saving Technologies: Film Farming: http://www.hydratelife.org/?p=360

Your Culinary World, Amazing New Farming Technique Could Make Food Available Almost Everywhere for Everyone: http://www.yourculinaryworld.com/leading-stories/2012/4/10/amazing-new-farming-technique-could-make-food-available-almo.html

Bio-mimic Islands Save Aquaculture

Sustainability Problem:

  • Nitrogen runoff from agricultural use, as well as other pollutants, is flooding major rivers and large bodies of water.
  • Pollution creates hypoxic conditions, which fosters algae blooms and further destroys the aquaculture.
  • This deadly combination impacts drinking water, recreational use of the shoreline, kills marine life and creates human health hazards.
  • South Florida has been in the news for toxic algae blooms that are causing health and environmental damage to coastal areas.

FAQs on Manmade Floating Islands:

  • Manmade floating islands are built using a recycled polymer mesh to support aquatic-friendly plant life. The roots are submerged in water to help filter pollution, cleanse toxins, and absorb the excess nitrogen before it can create algae blooms.
  • Local plants are selected to ensure viability and self-sustenance.
  • Floating islands are anchored in bodies of water, large rivers, and offshore to clean waterways and recreate wetland areas.
  • Mimicking mangrove forests, which are quickly disappearing due to habitat loss, rising water, and warming oceans, the islands create several solutions:
    • Micro-environments that support plant life used to clean the air and water through natural processes;
    • Above the waterline: a habitat for migrating birds, turtles, reptiles, and other species;
    • Below the waterline: a marine habitat supporting fish and related marine species.

Stakeholders:

  • Coastal and lakeside communities
  • Manufacturers of manmade islands
  • Agriculture
  • Marine life and aquaculture
  • Mammals who breathe air

Deployment:

  • The implementation of manmade floating islands is a global multi-million dollar industry. However, wider-scale use is required to have a more pronounced effect.
  • Cost and custom-build time are determined by size and complexity.
  • Islands can take only a few weeks to months to mature, and are self-sustaining.
  • Continued adoption of manmade islands to reduce water pollution, improve air quality, and create new habitats for birds and marine life.

Resources:

Military Spy Turned Sustainability Warrior

Sustainability Problem

It is estimated that 18 million acres of forest are permanently lost each year so the land can be used in other ways.

Technology Article

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/may/20/drone-technology-military-spy-turned-sustainability-warrior

  • Drones are now being used for many things other than military objectives that can be beneficial to all humans and the planet.
  • In 2015, Cargill, one of the world’s largest agricultural companies started using drones to help monitor its commitment to zero deforestation in its palm oil supply chains in Indonesia.
  • The drones help them map, identify, and monitor environmentally sensitive areas.
  • Drones will also allow Cargill to more quickly and accurately detect burning and illegal forest clearing.
  • As drones and sensors become more advanced they can be used by Cargill and other agricultural companies to make more important decisions pertaining to sustainability.

Stakeholders

  • Companies producing drones
  • Agricultural companies
  • Consumers of the agricultural companies products
  • Inhabitants of the countries where the drones are being used

Deployment

  • Other companies follow Cargill’s lead and use drones to monitor and eliminate deforestation
  • As drones and sensors become more advanced Cargill and other companies can use them to inform other decisions beneficial to their sustainability efforts
  • As mentioned in an earlier post, drones can and are being used to inform all sorts of decisions by people, governments, and companies. Continue to find innovative ways to use them that are beneficial to society and to sustainability.

Other sources:

Sol Chip Powers Precision Agriculture with Solariz (wireless, solar-powered small chip solutions)

Sol Chip Powers Precision Agriculture with Solariz in Singapore

Sustainability Problem

Food is one of the biggest problem of next century and precise agriculture and using land wisely and efficiently is one of the solutions for that which this technology enables.

Technology Article Summary

It is a small chip with PV which has “everlasting” battery which has no need for maintenance at least 10 years. It connects wirelessly to sensors uses IoT platform. Apart from reducing maintenance costs this sustainable solution aims to reduce dispose of batteries which is harmful for environmental. It enables complete solution for precision agriculture and it connects cloud wirelessly.

It measures soil moisture, temperature, solar radiation intensity and some other parameters. As there are more connected sensors, the more algorithms can be run to improve the efficiency and quality of agricultural yields.

Stakeholders

Farmers(for now)Later it may be everyone as it is very versatile chip

Later it may be everyone as it is very versatile chip

Deployment

It has been tested successfully in Israel, Argentine and Spain.Right now it is deployed in Singapore. Also it will deploy to other fields such as air quality measurement, intelligent parking lots, waste management and drinking water infrastructure as it is basically everlasting chip without maintenance that could gather data whichever filed you want

Sol Chip Powers Precision Agriculture with Solariz in Singapore

Open-source robot to optimize backyard gardening

farmbot-rendering

1. Sustainability Problem

Food and agriculture: There is growing demand in cities for local produce, but small-scale gardening tends to be both labor-intensive and resource inefficient.

2. Technology Article Summary

Article:
The FarmBot Genesis Brings Precision Agriculture To Your Own Backyard

by Andrew Hayward
Published 6/27/2016 on modern farmer at http://modernfarmer.com/2016/06/farmbot-genesis/

  • A three-person team from California has developed a data-enabled machine to sow and water seeds in small gardens.
  • The FarmBot Genesis is pre-programmed to optimize spacing and watering for thirty three common plant varieties – but the open source coding means that it can be adapted by the user for specific applications.
  • The bot can be controlled from a smartphone or computer, and users can customize plantings using in a simple interface that looks like a computer game.
  • The current system can manage a plot up to 2.9 meters × 1.4 meters, with a maximum plant height of 0.5 meters – but there is potential to develop and customize the technology for a variety of applications.

3. Organizational Stakeholders

This technology is now available for pre-order, and the immediate stakeholders will be:

  • Backyard farmers
  • Urban agriculture organizations and cooperatives

Because the technology is open source and has potential for development, future stakeholders could include:

  • Operators of commercial-scale greenhouse operations
  • Plant researchers working in controlled environments

4. Deployment

The next three stages in deploying this technology could be:

  • Creators: disseminate the Genesis model
  • Early adopters: identify value-add applications
  • Creators: scale up manufacturing to bring cost below $1000/unit

See also:

 

How Nanotechnology Can Help Us Grow More Food Using Less Energy And Water

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/how-nanotechnology-can-help-us-grow-more-food-using-less-energy-and-water/

Problem:

By 2050 it is expected that worlds population will exceed 9 billion. Thus the demand for food, water and energy will increase rapidly. We need to find more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to meet this demand without increasing the strain on natural resources. The problem this technology promising future is on food step of FEW (food-energy-water) nexus.

 

Technology:

 

Nanotechnology, which is basically ultra-small partials promises evaluation of precision agriculture in which farmers can control their usage of water, fertilizer and other inputs, thus reduce their waste which leads more sustainable agriculture.

 

For example, scientists right now researching on nanofertilizer which can be applied to plants by spraying onto their leaves. Studies suggests that such fertilizing method is especially beneficial for environment as fertilizer doesn’t come in contact with soil. On the other hand using typical fertilizer by spreading on field or mixing with irrigation water results excess nitrogen and phosphorus in soil which later can form chemical bonds with other elements and become unavailable for plants to be emitted by their roots. Eventually rain washes the nitrogen and phosphorus into rivers where it can cause pollution problems.

 

Stakeholders:

-Farmers

-Government

 

Process:

Use nanofertilizer instead of traditional one. You will be using much more less while getting the same or even more benefit without causing waste.