Food Technology Targets Sustainable Resource Consumption

As the water scarcity continues and more land succumbs to agricultural pressures, technology companies develop sustainable growing methods

The food Industry concerns itself with environmental and sustainability impacts. With an apparent scarcity of water resources as well as being energy-intensive, organisations are greeting creative with how they grow their food. Not to mention the land required for growing. These issues are what drive groups to find innovative solutions for growing food as the increasing population demands it. 

Growing Food with Hydroponics

The Royal Horticultural Society refers to hydroponics as ‘the science of growing plants without using soil, by feeding them on mineral nutrient salts dissolved in water’. London is home to one of these projects, which is led by the firm Growing Underground. It involves growing food using LED technology and hydroponics systems to produce greens in an area that is 33-metres below ground. This project is not only less resource-intensive, but it also means that products ‘can be in your kitchen within 4 hours of being picked and packed’. 

Vertical Growing Reduces Space

Vertical growing was mentioned in a previous article of Food Digital—talking about its integration with cloud connectivity. Similarly, Crate to Plate follows a similar growing model, which allows it to produce leafy greens and herbs in smaller spaces through vertical growing. The containers used are 40 feet long, eight feet wide and 8.5 feet tall. This is a similar symptom to that used by Growing Underground, optimising space and reducing dependence on natural resources. 

What makes the Methods Sustainable? 

As mentioned, these methods of growing greens provide solutions for reducing the impact of food production. As it currently stands, around four trillion cubic metres of freshwater is consumed globally each year and around three quarters is pumped into agriculture. Meanwhile, nearly 40% of the global land surface is used as cropland. 

Alternative growing methods can be coupled with technology to manage many variables, including the health of the plants, the amount of water that is used for growing, and the space requirement that remains constant. There is also a large amount of potential for space-conscious food systems to be implemented in smaller, seemingly wasted, spaces.

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