According to the recent United Nations studies, the current world population will be approximately 9.8 billion people and is expected to reach 10 billion people by the year 2057.
With an ever-increasing demand for food resources leading to an increase of pressure on agriculture and food production. The growth rate of crop production is too slow to meet the needs expected in the future. Factors including climate change, soil degradation and depleting energy resources contribute to the increase in scarcity of resources and traditional farming will be struggling to meet the demands for production in the upcoming years.
How can technology and modern farming help us meet our needs in a sustainable way?
Modern farming is defined as the use of modern science and technology to improve farming productivity. Some examples of late modern farming techniques include:
– Vertical farming:
Vertical farming is a sustainable way of growing plants vertically indoors, in a controlled environment. Providing optimal artificial conditions and nutrients for crops to grow in a minimal space. Vertical farming can not only help reduce the need for space, but also the need for non sustainable resources like water and soil where they are replaced by non-soil mediums, hydroponics and aeroponics. It can also help in reducing the cost of production compared to traditional farming.
Hydroponics consists of growing plants using only water combined with mineral nutrients instead of soil. Contrary to ancient beliefs, plants and vegetables do not need soil to grow. What they need mostly to survive is water, nutrients and light to be able to achieve photosynthesis in order to provide energy for the plant to grow and reproduce. The advantage of using hydroponics is that the nutrients become more accessible to the roots of the plant as opposed to soil where the roots may not reach all the nutrients needed thus, we can make plants grow faster and we can get more yields using hydroponics in a shorter amount of time.
Similar to hydroponics, aeroponics uses mist and nutrients on suspended vegetal roots in a soilless environment. It helps reduce the quantities of water used for irrigation. The moisture contained in the air transports nutrients to the roots of the plant. This system requires more precision than other methods of production, nevertheless, it remains an innovative solution to cultivate plants in small spaces.
Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics. The water provided to plants is pumped from a tank containing fish and other aquatic fauna. The plants feed on the waste produced by fish and help filter the water in a natural organic manner. This is a great way to recycle water in an eco-friendly manner.
These modern systems may require the use of costly equipment and technology, but still help decrease the cost of food production and open the possibilities for agriculture in regions deprived from fertile soils like deserts and dry lands.