The concept of the Vertical Farm suggests an interesting solution to help meet the demand for food for a highly urbanized global population expected to grow from 7.6 billion today to about 9.5 billion by 2050.
Almost all the land area available for sizable and economically feasible food production is already in use, which creates the challenge of meeting increasing food production, not by adding new land but by increasing food production from the existing area. Making the challenge even more difficult is how and specifically what technologies will be acceptable to accomplish the large increases in yields.
How can this be done in the face of the huge challenges from advancing global climate change; scarcity of water in many areas; pollution concerns due to applications of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides; increasing costs of energy; and changing diets with an increased worldwide appetite for meat.
Joel L. Cuello, a globally recognized expert in the engineering of sustainable biological and agricultural systems, will propose a sustainable way to grow food going forward with less land, less water, less carbon emission and greater yield. He will describe his “Vertical Green Box,” a minimally structured, modular and prefabricated Vertical Farm, in a 3:30 p.m. lecture at the Arizona Senior Academy on Wednesday (June 27).
The principal advantage of his plan is safe and fresh foods within an urban environment, readily accessible to the local community with less use of land, water and chemical inputs. The major challenges are the energy required and economics of the concept.
Cuello is a professor of agricultural and biosystems at the University of Arizona and director of the UA’s Global Initiative for Strategic Agriculture in Dry Lands. He uses his technical expertise in both engineering and biology to optimize biological and agricultural productivity while fostering resource sustainability and environmental protection.
Written by Norman Scott, Academy Village Volunteer