AeroFarms, a company whose vertical skyscraper farming idea we have covered before, is now beginning to introduce a new way of farming to the Middle East that could have as radical an effect on the future of our food supply, as when we switched to farming from hunting and gathering. This will be a very major change.This week AeroFarm’s first unit has just been installed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, under the support and partnership of Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Saleh Boqshan, who is spearheading the project.
Instead of soil, and sunshine, AeroFarms employs aeroponic farming technology, that can work inside buildings in cities. Because of the rise of mega cities in the 21st century, with 80% of us expected to be living in large cities by 2050, this alone makes for a sustainable farming technology.
Seeds are sown into a light weight porous support that is open to air so that the plants can be sprayed with a mist of water and nutrients. The structural growing medium cloth can be reused again and again. The mist itself is recycled too, so there is no run-off, like in traditional farming.
Because aeroponic farms can be sited literally anywhere at all – inside buildings: even multistory buildings without any sunlight at all – it dramatically cuts the carbon costs of transporting food from distant farmlands to city dwellers.
AeroFarms grows food under LED lights, which require only a tenth of the energy to run as that needed by incandescent lights, and far less energy than traditional farming.
Because the food is grown indoors in speeded-up 18-20 day cycles (shorter than typical 21 day pest cycles), there is no need for pesticides. This, in turn, means pesticide-free seeds can be used.
Even water, a long term problem already for this water-stressed region, and one that will only get worse – will be addressed by this installation in Jeddah.
AeroFarms will incorporate a water vapor harvester from AWG. It literally squeezes water from air. So AeroFarm’s 21st century farming technique will be highly sustainable in water-stressed desert cities, such as Jeddah. Aeroponics already uses much less water than traditional farming. Combine AeroFarms and the AWG water vapor harvester, and you have a sustainable way to supply food well into the future.
The return on investment is a staggering 20-33%. The advantages over traditional farming are astounding. At a time when Arab states are desperately buying up foreign farmland to feed their growing populations, this technology might be a lifsaver. And the harvest is fresh, pesticide-free, local, longer-lasting, safer, and clean and dry.
Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah, meaning “the ancestor of women”, is supposed to be the home of what is believed to be the tomb of Eve, the first human on record to pick a fruit.
Most likely, it was “the descendants of Eve” who invented farming, by noting how vegetable and fruit waste discarded near paleolithic settlement sites magically sprouted new plants in their compost.
So it is fitting that the next really major advance in farming comes to the city of Jeddah.
More on sustainable farming in the Middle East:
Drip Irrigation Gives Hope to Drought Plagued Farmers in Syria …
A Growing Gulf Dependent on Imported Food
Organic Farms Growing in Dubai
Hungry Persian Gulf States Look to Mycorrhiza Fungus to Grow Crops …