Modular indoor farming

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Post Reply
George the original one
Posts: 4279
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Modular indoor farming

Post by George the original one » Thu Apr 06, 2017 2:33 pm

"now your food really will come from the supermarket"

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2017040 ... griculture

There are a number of positives to the model, but... I really don't like the energy requirements.

Here in my neck of the woods, it would seem to make the most sense during winter months because the natural light is inadequate for plant growth, there's abundant rainwater (thus dispensing with the need to recirculate water), and the energy for a transportation network would instead go into generating the artificial light. If the energy needs could be satisfied, say, by riding an exercycle every other day for an hour to recharge a battery, then it starts to make a fair bit of sense.

@7wannabe5, are you game for trying it out?

User avatar
daylen
Posts: 245
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2015 4:17 am
Location: Lawrence, KS

Re: Modular indoor farming

Post by daylen » Thu Apr 06, 2017 5:34 pm

I don't see this as an ideal long term solution. This approach is working against nature and requires extensively engineered systems to control evolutionary processes. Relative to a permaculture system, an isolating approach would be fragile.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Modular indoor farming

Post by jennypenny » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:38 pm

I've seen these setups in abandoned urban industrial areas. I agree the energy usage is a problem, but I like the repurposing of the buildings for something useful.

User avatar
vexed87
Posts: 1203
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 8:02 am
Location: Yorkshire, UK

Re: Modular indoor farming

Post by vexed87 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 6:48 am

The problem is not finding enough space to grow crops, there's plenty of that, it's all around us and under utilised. Minimising the resource inputs required to get it to the end user is the real challenge. This doesn't solve that problem, so bit of a red herring. As the expert puts it, why waste energy on lighting, when the sun does it for free. Of course, the solution we really need cannot be bought with money.

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 5316
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: Modular indoor farming

Post by jennypenny » Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:36 am

I understand the objections, but there are other variables besides sunlight. Since indoor spaces can control the climate and have fewer pest and disease issues, they avoid problems which end up requiring additional resources to mitigate. I don't think they're perfect. OTOH, I think it's important to look at the entire system's resource consumption before judging. It's also hard to judge the value of other intangible benefits like urban renewal, community building, small business opportunity, localized food production (less traffic, increased employment), and quality of product.

I also wonder if this is the future of manufacturing employment. Will the people who worked in factories assembling cars someday work in factories growing food? It's not a bad transition plan and I can imagine other potential side benefits. Working in farms might encourage people to eat healthier, and it's been proven that people are happier when they have more contact with nature so this kind of factory job might be better for overall well-being.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 2837
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Modular indoor farming

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:18 am

@GTOO: I'm not terribly interested in solving the problem of how to efficiently provide effete yuppie scum (even though I semi-qualify as such myself) with baby spring greens in mid-winter Michigan. I am interested in sustainable urban food systems. The no-brainer solution in 1917, prior to widespread availability of refrigeration, for what to "grow" in a warehouse in the city to feed people would have been dairy cows. They don't need the sun. They do need the shelter, and would provide their own warmth. The need for refrigerated transport of dairy products could be minimized.

The problem that developed with urban dairy farms, some of which were actually in cellars, in the early 20th century was disease. Obviously, since there are many crowded factory farms in warehouses located in the countryside these days, there are now technological solutions to this problem. Obviously, the problems with these solutions are also well-known now.

What I would do, given time/labor/capital/freedom-from-zoning-compliance/etc, would be to create a mixed passive greenhouse/warehouse-stable/recirculating-pond-gray-field solution that would include livestock/aquatics/food crops/decomposers in as much of a closed-cycle as possible. The warehouse would be opened or extended to include a roof-top and/or southern facing exposure to the sun, and north-western exposure would be insulated with heat-retaining mass. Direct photosynthesis would be preferred use of available sunlight, but some radiation would be directed to solar water heating and electricity production. Wind turbines would provide the power necessary to recirculate the water through the system, and water gravity battery could also provide power. The livestock and their waste would provide heat and nutrients for aquatics and crops. The livestock could be fed on aquatic and crop waste indigestible or unsavory for humans. Very simple solar powered robots could perform tedious repetitive tasks inside the warehouse and then crawl out on the roof or lawn-converted-to-field to re-charge themselves. One human being could sit in a comfy chair next to the fish tank and something fragrant and flowering, reading Trollope, and occasionally rousing herself to check on a pot of soup cooking on the rocket stove in the corner. Then at 4 PM, people would line up at the door, and with the help of some street urchin assistant, she would give each person in the line some food in a bowl fired from native clay dug up from the lawn, and a used book to read. And each person would give her $2 or something else in barter.

Post Reply