In a conventional circumstance, an old warehouse shipping container can’t be pushed forth as the ideal candidate for efficient farming. But Local Roots challenges this notion with aplomb, via their hydroponic farming solutions christened as the TerraFarm. The incredible design in question here pertains to 40-ft long shipping containers that only require five to twenty gallons of water for growing a variety of food items, ranging from lettuce, kale to even strawberries.
The high claims naturally fuel the question – how is this farming scope possible? Well firstly, the TerraFarms are hydroponic, which means that they relegate the need for soil (and thus space), and instead rely on nutrient-rich water. This water in turn is recirculated, which essentially translates to using up to 99 percent less water than regular outdoor agriculture. The effective usage of water is further complemented by the integration of sensors that provide control over various parameters like atmospheric, nutrient and water conditions within the farm. The combination of these processes is touted to result in production volume (and growth time) increase by 50 percent.
Furthermore, adding to the advantages of recycled water and smart sensors, TerraFarms utilize their custom-engineered LED lights that are tailored to focusing precise wavelengths of light. The lighting technique ‘brings out’ required qualities for the specific organic matter and plants alike. For example, the all-important chlorophyll is known to absorb red and blue light, and consequently the farm interior adopts a purplish ambiance. In essence, with the control of LEDs, the farms can emphasize on particular characteristics that keep their produce fresh, nutritious and discernible. At the same time, the entire method eschews any form of pesticide or herbicide.
As for the logistical part, the company touts that their hydroponic farms require only four weeks to function in a streamlined manner, from the time of the initial setup to the time of harvesting. Each farm in itself is estimated to produce the volume of food equivalent to that grown on three to five acres fields in outdoor agriculture. Additionally, the TerraFarm boasts the advantage of stacking that can significantly increase the output per designated area of farming. Local Roots also mentions something on the lines of –
We capitalize on our ongoing data collection in order to quantify the TerraFarm environment. Through computer vision and deep learning we created a neural network that diagnoses and monitors plant health, allowing TerraFarmers to streamline quality control.
Given the flurry of advanced features, it might not come as a surprise that Local Roots is already in talks with SpaceX about using their scalable hydroponic farms in space. As for their more ‘earthly’ ventures, the company has successfully installed their operations in Los Angeles, while another project is soon to be unveiled in Maryland.
For more information you can take a gander at Local Roots’ website.
Via: Washington Post