lunes, 10 de junio de 2013

Horticulture Discotech: LED Grow Lights Power Sustainable Farming

ORIGINAL: Ecoimagination / PlantLab
Laurie Stark
Oct 26 2011

TEDxBrainport 2012 - Gertjan Meeuws - Indoor farming, Plant Paradise

TEDxBrainport 2012 - Making the Future

Gertjan Meeuws is a pretty stubborn Dutch horticultural engineer, convinced that the way we are producing our food today, won't be a sustainable solution for feeding the world of tomorrow. Born in The Netherlands in 1962, he finished the University of Applied Sciences in -Hertogenbosch in 1983. Ever since, he has been involved in improving the performances of crops by combining his plant physiological knowledge with developing mathematical models and disrupting insights. Gertjan says we are using too much land, too much water, too much pesticides and too much transportation to deliver fresh food. He is managing partner of PlantLab, where he and his partners are not looking for improving the existing supply chain, but for creating a totally new and better one, based on their invention: Plant Paradise.

Food - Can we feed the world?
About TEDxBrainport 2012 - Making the Future
There are many challenges in the world today. Hunger and disease continue to affect large parts of the developing world. Financial instability is halting progress in developed countries. We're running out of resources and changing the natural world in ways we don't totally understand. How can we make a better future? Discover the next big bordering-on-crazy ideas for humanity at TEDxBrainport 2012. 

Photography by Gemma Burgio

What if we could grow fruits and vegetables in half the time with no pesticides or hormones and use 90 percent less water to do it? 
What if we could grow those fruits and vegetables anywhere in the world, during any season?

A Netherlands-based company called PlantLab believes we can.

Apples from Chile, asparagus from Peruan average of six to 12 percent of every dollar we spend on food goes to transportation costs.

Traditionally, most agriculture has been limited to large swaths of land with rich soil, controllable pests, and a predictable climate, but even under optimum conditions traditional methods of agriculture drain our water supply, require intensive resources, and produce a crop dependent on an undependable climate. PlantLab believes it might be time to start thinking outside the farm.

The big idea
In order to keep a planet that’s worth living on, we have to change our methods,” says PlantLab’s Gertjan Meeuws in an interview with the Associated Press.

The methods PlantLab is suggesting are revolutionary. The company grows plants indoors, vertically stacking acres upon acres of plants. They use LED lamps to grow the plants and water them with a slow trickle that drains through the soil and is collected and reused. The neon pink light of the lamps make the space look more like a nightclub than an indoor farm.

Computers capture over 160,000 reports per second to determine the exact amount, cycle, and color spectrum of light that’s optimal for the plant, as well as water, so that no resource is wasted and the plant is neither undernourished nor overexposed.

It would be wonderful if in 50 years’ time everyone in the world had decent food.

Plants convert light from the sun into energy through the process of photosynthesis, but plants only need some parts of the sun’s color spectrum. Blue and red LEDs can provide just the light a plant needs, making the process more efficient and growing a stronger, healthier plant.

A bright future
LEDs and climate-controlled indoor farms not only use less energy, less water, and less space than traditional agriculture; they also reduce the unpredictability of our food supply. Indoor farms aren’t at the mercy of droughts, torrential rains, unexpected frosts, and pests. They reduce the danger of food shortages and waste.

The vision for urban agriculture is simple—farms below grocery stores, farms above schools, city skyscrapers filled with fruits and vegetables instead of copy machines. The vision is fresh, local food grown and transported with minimal resources, no matter where in the world you live.

John van Gemert
, a PlantLab engineer, says his dream for the company is to empower communities to produce their own food all over the world. “It would be wonderful if in 50 years’ time everyone in the world had decent food.

Laurie Stark is a writer based in Madison, WI. You can find her writing on Your Ill-fitting Overcoat and in Isthmus, Madison’s alt weekly.

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