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Aerofarms urban agriculture system - less space, less water and no pesticides

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June 11, 2010

Aerofarms' aeroponic system

Aerofarms' aeroponic system

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With increasing pressure on global food supplies requiring ever more intelligent use of technology, urbanized vertical aeroponic methods are shaping up as a promising alternative to traditional farming. Aeroponics requires less space, less water and no pesticides and the AeroFarms system takes things further by using LEDs in stacked units to maximize efficiency and use of available space.

The AeroFarms system allows leafy greens and herbs in particular to be grown at room temperature indoors in urban environments. As soil is replaced by a proprietary reusable cloth growing medium, there's no washing of produce required, resulting in an increase in shelf-life of anywhere from one to four weeks depending on what's being grown. In addition, due to the indoor growing environment and shortened growth cycle, the lack of pests allows produce to be grown pesticide-free. Also, aeroponic methods use less than 20% of the water required by traditional agricultural methods and less than 80% of that required by hydroponic methods. Finally, transportation costs are almost negligible when compared to agricultural methods that make production in urban areas impossible.

Aerofarms' prototype system

One criticism often leveled at aeroponic systems that use artificial light is that a significant amount of energy is required. Aerofarms' seeks to minimize energy use through the use of LEDs which have nearly five times the life expectancy of High pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, can be placed closer to the plant (which assists in stacking) and can be designed to evenly distribute light to the crop. Aerofarms' has also conducted research into what specific wavelengths of light are required by growing plants. By using LEDs that target these wavelengths, it's thought that significant energy savings can be achieved.

It should be pointed out, however, that Aerofarms' system is not for hobby farmers. But if you're thinking of setting up a commercial farm in an urban setting, the company claims a 20 to 33% return on investment.

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13 Comments

This never seems to matter to anyone but me. How much does a pound of whatever you are growing cost????????????????????????????????????

Nothing matters if the end result is that the vegetables aren't cheap. I have friends who tell me that $6.50 a dozen organic eggs are worth it. I don't care about that!!! I am talking about making food cheaper so that everyone all over the world gets a fair share.

I'm going to think this is another case of "Boutique Green", not for everyone, for the "High Life" instead.

Sorry for the rant.

froginapot
11th June, 2010 @ 09:54 am PDT

froginapot,, I agree with you they could and should have included an idea at least as to the average cost per whatever one chooses to grow but, I have a good idea that LCD lights are very cheap to keep lit and for instance growing tomatoes, potatos, lettuce and/or broccoli I can grow enough to save at least enough to pay the cost of a grow medium and electricity bills. Besides then I know what has gone into what I am growing and am getting it a lot fresher than any store can. And with the indoor gardening giving me continuing grow seasons I'm one happy farmer. The only real expense is the down stroke. LCD's ain't cheap but, you can recover the costs in savings very fast.

YukonJack
11th June, 2010 @ 02:25 pm PDT

AeroFarms system allows leafy greens and herbs at a higher cost for those who can afford.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
11th June, 2010 @ 04:10 pm PDT

It's like everything, the more people take it up the cheaper it will become. Anyone remember how much a TV used to cost. Anyway no pesticides is a fantastic outcome and is the only way mankind will have a future.

Nick Rowney
13th June, 2010 @ 06:13 pm PDT

Even if the produce is more expensive the pesticide free thing should make it sell well to those who can afford it and this would free up a little land (and a fair bit of water) and slightly increase the availability of these agricultural necessities for the poor and middle class.

This would be true even if the economy of scale thing does NOT bring the cost down to where the poor can afford aeroponically grown produce. Hopefully it would eventually do that too.

Facebook User
14th June, 2010 @ 12:25 am PDT

Also the amount of pesticides pouring into the watersheds would be reduced which would benefit the poor as well as the rest of us.

Facebook User
14th June, 2010 @ 12:30 am PDT

Um - Plants grow in the sun, breathe in CO2, and Exhale O2.

So lets stick them inside, and burn coal to produce electricicty, and wire it to bulbs for the plants to grow with. Yay - now instead of something that consumes CO2, we've got something that *emits* 10 *times* more CO2 than it would have otherwise consumed.

(ten times; assumes coal power plant, typical transmission line losses, and extremely efficient lighting)

Did anyone else get a giggle at their deflection on that topic? They pretended that "inefficient" referred to the life expectancy of the bulbs, and ignored that actual meaning of the criticism.

christopher
14th June, 2010 @ 01:27 am PDT

20-33% return on investment is likely better than a traditional farm, so the cost should be reasonable. Hello? Anybody here read that?

If you use *more* carbon burning LEDs (currently over 100Lumens/Watt versus incandescant 20L/W), but grow faster (see article), then the extra energy *may* be offset by extra production. But I think most initial installations will use added sunlight through skylights since I think this depends on sealed chambers to keep the pests out.

When the cost of water goes up due to increasing scarcity, pesticide pollution finally becomes intolerable (should be already), and space is at a premium, then this type of technology will be not only beneficial, but preferred and required. Even the specific frequency LEDs (powered by solar!) will show their benefit in added growth efficiency.

I'm not saying this is the answer for today, but the very near future, most likely.

Einstein said: "Every great idea is met with violent opposition from meager minds"

Mark in MI
14th June, 2010 @ 12:57 pm PDT

20-33% ROI?

Sign me up.

It is important that these technologies are developed as our impact on the land grows ever larger. IF renewable energy sources can keep up of course ;)

Craig Jennings
14th June, 2010 @ 11:13 pm PDT

Sorry AeroFarms, but the Japanese were first in using LED lighting And using solar panels to power their indoor farms.

Look up-

SANYO to Provide Solar Panels and Lithium-ion Batteries

for Mitsubishi Chemical's "40Ft container Vegetable Factory"

And

Mitsubishi chemical Corp develops veggie growing shipping containers

For more information.

Mitsubishi Chemical sold a self contained shipping container farm to Qatar back in April 2010, so the concept of self contained vegetable factory is not hypothetical, it is reality.

Len
21st June, 2010 @ 05:05 pm PDT

Have the company evaluated possible side effects n the long run? Whether nutrients composition is same as the one produced in the outdoor? They should test it on more vegge verities for a minimum period of 2-3 years and if they find a favorable conditions then they may go for commercial.

dlbsree
23rd June, 2010 @ 05:20 am PDT

This system looks very good indeed. Aeroponics is the way forward. I know this because I am designing an aeroponic system for my employer, and the results are mind-boggling. Just for interest sake: aeroponics is based on a very natural plant ecology. In rainforests the humidity is so high that Orchids can grow in the top of trees with their roots growing into thin air (it also very shady in these areas, so a nice dark humid place for a root to be). Also take into account that Oxygen is used by the plant to take up nutrients. Water has a very low level of dissolved Oxygen (I think less than 1%), but air has more than 20% oxygen! More nutrient uptake equals faster growth , and less nutrient usage because of the efficient nutrient uptake. That is why aeroponics is so good! Also for the rooting of cuttings, where even cuttings from woody-stemmed plants can be rooted without much hassle. Depending on what scale you grow, aeroponics can however be expensive and prone to failure where high-pressure systems are used to generate the nutrient mist. My system is low-pressure, and delivers a true mist. Nice!

Johannizzz81
1st September, 2010 @ 03:51 am PDT

Hello Johannizzz81,

I have just started to try out aeroponics growing at my home. It would be extremely helpful if you could clarify a few doubts i have. My email is is- vrnkrshn@gmail.com. Thanks a Ton!!..

Krish77
11th August, 2013 @ 01:39 am PDT
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