As the human population continues to grow, our demand for food increases. Farmers are under continuous pressure to produce more food, faster. Environmental sustainability in agriculture is an equally important topic to discuss in parallel with mass food production.
Overproduction is a severe issue in our world, and daily harms the environment. Currently, agricultural pursuits take up almost half of the world’s habitable land. Millions of hectares of natural habitats are lost, leaving thousands of species homeless.
As it is, agricultural activities already contribute around 10 percent to the USA’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
It’s simply not sustainable to increase agricultural land at the expense of nature. Wild spaces help maintain the Earth’s fragile grip on healthy ecosystems. In turn, these natural ecosystems assist in reducing global warming and maintaining clean water systems.
Farmers are slowly, but surely, realizing how crucial sustainable agriculture practices are to increase yields and ensure the future of their industry and food security for all.
Keep reading to learn about the new types of farming coming to the forefront of modern agriculture.
New Types of Sustainable Farming Methods
Environmental sustainability in agriculture means farmers maintain healthy soil and manage water usage in the most efficient ways.
Food sustainability (definition) aims to grow food that supports the increasing population at a healthy rate and limits negative environmental impacts.
When food is grown sustainably, it’s safe and healthy for both consumers and Mother Earth. Let’s look at some of the most innovative futuristic farming methods today.
Innovation Agriculture: Vertical Farming Systems
Vertical farming systems are urban growing solutions that use available indoor spaces to grow crops. Instead of sprawling out alongside one another, herbs and vegetables grow vertically to conserve space. Here are a few innovative ideas for farming sustainably, thanks to urban farm tech.
1. Hydroponics – No soil needed
Hydroponics is an innovative farming method where the roots of plants are submerged in a nutrient-rich solution. You can even see hydroponics firsthand in big-name grocery stores today, like Safeway, as herbs like basil, oregano, and parsley are being grown more sustainably.
2. Aeroponics – Growing plants in midair
In efforts to find efficient ways to grow plants in space, the National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) developed an innovative indoor growing technique, which they coined “aeroponics.” As stated by NASA, “Aeroponics systems can reduce water usage by 98 percent, fertilizer usage by 60 percent, and pesticide usage by 100 percent, all while maximizing crop yields.”
3. Aquaponics – Farming plants and fish together
Aquaponics combines plants and fish in the same, closed ecosystem to sustainably grow crops. The nutrient-rich waste produced by the fish raised in indoor ponds provides a food source to the plants. In turn, the plants benefit the fish by filtering and purifying the wastewater, which gets recycled back to the fish ponds.
5 Benefits of Vertical Farming Systems
An obvious benefit to urban growing solutions is that you can grow more crops in a smaller area, but there are many other benefits to vertical farming.
Reduced Water Consumption
Agriculture accounts for up to 90 percent of consumptive water use in the United States. Vertical farms are a closed micro-farming system, meaning no external factors (e.g., evaporation) can affect water usage. Effectively, you can recycle the same water over and over, resulting in substantial water savings.
Year-Round Crop Production
These urban farming innovations are independent of environmental factors like weather and temperature. The seasons have no impact on crops, considering they grow in monitored environments. Seasonal vegetables can be produced year-round in a protected indoor micro-farm.
Chemical Free Food Production
Harmful chemicals and pesticides are unnecessary to protect the health of crops in a closed system. The growing medium used in vertical farming is self-contained, so it does not affect the water table.
Worker Friendly Thanks to Urban Farm Tech
Micro-farms are a much safer alternative to commercial farms. Small farm innovations like vertical farming don’t require heavy machinery. High tech vegetable farming systems are remotely monitored and managed for optimum production, so little human intervention is needed.
Lower Carbon Emissions
If you’re using a vertical farming system at work or in your restaurant, you’re directly reducing food miles. You’ll also enjoy a higher nutritional value in your food when you harvest produce on-site.
Adopt Sustainable Future Food Systems
Innovativations to further environmental sustainability in agriculture ultimately benefit the world; we just need to be dedicated to the process.
Sustainable agriculture also provides economic stability to farmers, so it’s not just Mother Earth who benefits. By making efficient, holistic use of available resources, farmers can produce abundant healthy crops at a fraction of the cost.
If you aren’t a farmer but want to grow sustainable food yourself, start with a vertical farming system. These compact micro-farms are great for restaurants, offices, and nursing homes.
Provide food on-site that’s safe, healthy, and sustainable for the plant and people. Get in touch with Babylon Micro-Farms to find out more about our future farming techniques and what they can do for you.