As we are moving into the topic of biosphere, we have been discussing factors that influence the growth of trees: temperature, rain, soil, sunlight, etc. We see a clear connection between physical geography and biomes i.e. how one affects the other. In addition, most of our NPS presentations touched on the effects of physical changes – atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere – on a local species.
It is, however, very interesting to read about the indoor farming. This idea has been created and experimented by a Dutch bioengineer, Gertjan Meeuws, in Den Bosche, the Netherlands. What he is doing does not support what we learn from class, but is very thought-provoking: what kind of conditions can we control to be able to grow plants indoor?
Certainly, this method requires good combinations of light, soil, humidity, and temperature. This is different from the greenhouse conditions because natural sunlight is excluded. However, Meeuws claimed that the growth rate from this method is three times faster than under greenhouse conditions. This method requires LED bulbs which can be expensive, but the cost is getting lower nowadays. Moreover, the indoor farming does not need pesticides, and requires about 90 percent less water than outdoor agriculture.
Other benefits from this way of farming is that it may be one of the answers to the world’s food problems. Food prices are unstable because the climate conditions are uncontrollable i.e. floods, droughts, etc. Not only do we face the price problems, but the limited resources are also challenged by the growth of population. The United Nations predicts that, by mid-century, the world population will increase from 6.8 billion to 9 billion. To feed so many people we expand farmlands at the expense of forests and the wilderness, we also increase crop yields in artificial and radical ways. But, indoor farming is a great alternative to respond to more food demand. It is even possible where farmland is scarce like in a city. Since half the people on Earth lives in cities, it would be a good idea to grow some plants in cities to reduce the transportation cost, especially when the oil price is rising steadily.