The need for new, sustainable approaches to agriculture and food production is becoming increasingly clear to many. The question of how we will continue to feed ourselves if ecosystems deteriorate is no small problem. How could a circular city address current agricultural difficulties so food production is more sustainable and resilient? For its next topic, the Prefecture Podcast is diving into sustainable agricultural practices, clean water, and how its AI hub KAILE could help manage both in a circular city.
Alternative indoor farming methods like hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics skip soil entirely. Instead, farmers replace soil with nutrient-rich water to support the roots of the plants. But why grow without soil in the first place? This agricultural practice may seem strange, but it is quite revolutionary because: it allows people to farm anywhere in the world, to farm anytime of the year without risks of inclement weather, and to harvest higher yields using far fewer resources. This type of farming is specifically advantageous in a circular city system because it solves the problem of having to import food from different areas. As a result, cities can have hyper-local food systems and the opportunity to grow “out-of-season” vegetables and fruits year round—enhancing nourishment and food security.
Aquaponics integrates fish and plants into the same environment. It begins with growing a fish farm and using the principles of the nitrogen cycle. The waste from the fish—once the solids are removed— is converted into nitrates by bacteria and microbes. The nutrient-rich water then feeds the plants the necessary nutrients needed to thrive, and the plants refilter the water for the fish.
Hydroponics is another popular farming method for urban environments because it grows plants without using soil. With this method, plant roots are suspended in nutrient-rich water in order to grow. Unlike aquaponics and hydroponics, aeroponics removes the need for a water reservoir. Aeroponics grows plants suspended in the air and uses a mist environment to water them. Essentially, this type of innovative farming sustains plants with nothing more than nutrient-rich mist while roots are free to dangle and grow in the open air.
All of these sustainable farming methods grow more food in small spaces, which is inherently advantageous in urban environments and growing populations. In addition, these farming methods are incredibly water-efficient and use water responsibly. Compared to our current irrigation systems, it is estimated it would require about 90 percent less water.
And though these farming structures are inherently “man made,” they allow organic growth without the need for chemical pesticides, lessening negative environmental and health impacts. In addition, once these methods are up and running, they are said to grow faster and have higher yields than traditional farming processes.
Tune into Prefecture Go’s next podcast for a more in-depth discussion!