20 June 2007

More on Aeroponics

Update 21 June: This BBC story describes a "vertical farm" for large metropolitan areas. One of the advantages to high-rise urban farming, is the close proximity to markets and consumers. In case of large scale disasters, many urban areas could very well be cut off from rural food supplies. The in stock inventory of distributors and retailers might be depleted in just a few days.
Followingan earlier post about aeroponics, I began to wonder why this ingenious and water-thrifty method of growing crops and plants is not more commonly utilised.

Due to the disease-free environment that is unique to aeroponics, many plants can grow at higher density (plants per sq meter) when compared to more traditional forms of cultivation (hydroponics, soil and NFT). Commercial aeroponic systems incorporate hardware features that accommodate the crops expanding root systems.

....In 1986 Stoner was the first person ever to market fresh aeroponically grown food to a national grocery chain. He was interviewed on [NPR] and discussed the importance of the water conservation features of aeroponics for both modern agriculture and space.[3]

Stoner is considered the father of commercial aeroponics. Stoner's aeroponic systems are in major developed countries around the world. His aeroponic designs, technology and equipment are widely used at leading agricultural universities worldwide and by commercial growers.[1]

....NASA's long range plans indicate for man's visit to Mars will utilize inflatable structures to house the spaceship crew on the Mars surface. Planning is under way to incorporate inflatable greenhouse facilities for food production.

NASA planning scenarios also reveal the Mars surface crew will spend 60% of their time on Mars farming to sustain themselves. Aeroponics is considered the agricultural system of choice because of its low water and power inputs and high volume of food output per sq meter.

....
Source

You can find much more information here.

As humans expand their habitat into space, they will need the utility and efficiency of aeroponic crop production. Aeroponics should also work well for ocean-top seasteads, undersea colonies, and as a good local source for year-round fresh produce in large urban areas.

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