Can Hydroponics Change Everything About How We Produce Food?

10.14.16 2 weeks ago • 5 Comments

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What do you know about hydroponics? Is most of it weed related? If so, that’s okay. It’s not like the technology for growing hydroponic kale is too much different. In a hydroponic system, roots are suspended (often in mesh soil bags, though there are a variety of methods) and water is flushed through the system. Whatever water isn’t absorbed is filtered and used again, creating a closed loop.

That’s a huge deal. Have you heard of California’s crisis-level drought? Well, 70% of all water consumed in the state goes to agriculture. Massive decreases in water use are the only way to continue sustaining a population of 25 million people in Southern California. It’s no surprise that people are looking to alternate farming methods.

All of this is compounded by the matter of food waste. Our food typically travels a long way to get to us — with up to a third getting ruined in-transit, But “growing local” isn’t a panacea in places, like Southern California, Arizona, or Texas, where water is in short supply.

“Local Roots uses 97% less water than outdoor agriculture,” says Julia Mande, the GM of the hydroponic farming system, Local Roots.

Mande is keenly aware that the company’s revolutionary production capabilities and the fact that farms can now be located anywhere is sure to intrigue a new era of farmers.

“I think it’s going to attract a lot of young people who might never have thought about being farmers,” Mande continues. “whe can now incorporate technology backgrounds…as well as agronomy and botany.”

In a state in crisis, this number is a big deal. As Erick Cutter, founder of another hydroponic farm, Alegría Fresh told us:

The future of food is going to be centered on one main concept: resiliency. We have to have a resilient supply of food that is accessible to people in cities. We have to stop transporting it so far and using so much carbon in the supply chain. My solution is to decentralize the big agricultural distribution system by providing supplemental micro-farms in the city. Zero waste, high performance urban micro farms with nutrient-rich soil. They’re off grid and they produce superior produce right where people live and work.

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