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  • Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

  • So if you live on planet Earth

  • and you're one of seven billion people that eats food every day,

  • I need you to pay attention,

  • because over the next three decades,

  • we will need to address

  • one of the most critical global challenges of our generation.

  • And I'm not talking about climate change.

  • I'm talking about food and agriculture.

  • In 2050, our global population is projected to reach 9.8 billion,

  • with 68 percent of us living in urban city centers.

  • In order to feed this massive population,

  • we will need to increase our agricultural output

  • by 70 percent over current levels.

  • Just to put this number into perspective,

  • we will need to grow more food in the next 35 to 40 years

  • than the previous 10,000 years combined.

  • Put simply, not only is our global population becoming bigger,

  • but it's also getting denser,

  • and we will need to grow significantly more food

  • using significantly less land and resources.

  • Complicating our current efforts to address these major demographic shifts

  • are the challenges facing the agricultural industry today.

  • Globally, one third of all the food that we produce is wasted,

  • acquitting to 1.6 billion tons of food

  • that spoiled on the way to the market

  • or expired in our refrigerators

  • or were simply thrown out by supermarkets and restaurants

  • at the end of the day.

  • Every single year, up to 600 million people

  • will get sick eating contaminated food,

  • highlighting the challenge that we have of maintaining global food safety.

  • And, maybe unsurprisingly,

  • the agricultural industry

  • is the single largest consumer of fresh water,

  • accounting for 70 percent of global usage.

  • Now, you'll be relieved to know

  • that the agricultural industry

  • and that the global movement by universities, companies and NGOs

  • is putting together comprehensive research

  • and developing novel technology

  • to address all of these issues.

  • And many have been doing it for decades.

  • But one of the more recent innovations in food production

  • being deployed in industrial parks in North America,

  • in the urban city centers of Asia,

  • and even in the arid deserts of the Middle East

  • is controlled environment agriculture.

  • Controlled environment agriculture is actually just a fancy way of saying

  • weather- or climate-proof farming,

  • and many of these farms grow food three-dimensionally in vertical racks,

  • as opposed to the two dimensions of conventional farms.

  • And so this type of food production is also referred to

  • as indoor vertical farming.

  • I've been involved in the indoor vertical farming space

  • for the past five and a half years,

  • developing technology to make this type of food production

  • more efficient and affordable.

  • This picture was taken outside of a decommissioned shipping container

  • that we converted into an indoor farm

  • and then launched into the heart and the heat of Dubai.

  • Indoor vertical farming is a relatively recent phenomena,

  • commercially speaking,

  • and the reason for this is that consumers care more about food safety

  • and where their food comes from,

  • and also, the necessary technology to make this possible

  • is more readily available and lower cost,

  • and the overall cost of food production globally is actually increasing,

  • making this type of food production more competitive.

  • So if you want to build an indoor vertical farm,

  • you will need to replace some of the conventional elements of farming

  • with artificial substitutes,

  • starting with sunlight.

  • In indoor vertical farms,

  • natural sunlight is replaced with artificial lighting like LEDs.

  • While there are many different types of LEDs being used,

  • the one that we decided to install here

  • is called "full spectrum LEDs,"

  • which was optimized for the type of vegetables that we were growing.

  • Also, in order to maximize production for a given space,

  • indoor vertical farms also utilize and install racking systems

  • to grow vegetables vertically,

  • and some of the biggest facilities

  • stack their production 14 to 16 floors high.

  • Now most of these farms are hydroponic or aeroponic systems,

  • which means that instead of using soil,

  • they use a substitute material like polyurethane sponges,

  • biodegradable peat moss

  • and even use inorganic materials like perlite and clay pellets.

  • Another unique aspects about these farms

  • is that they use a precise nutrient formula

  • that is circulated and recycled throughout the facility,

  • and this is pumped directly to the vegetables' root zone

  • to promote plant growth.

  • And lastly, these farms use

  • a sophisticated monitoring and automation system

  • to significantly increase productivity,

  • efficiency and consistency,

  • and these tools also provide the added benefit

  • of producing food that is more traceable and safe.

  • Some of the obvious benefits of growing food in this way

  • is that you have year-round vegetable production,

  • you have consistent quality and you have predictable output.

  • Some of the other major benefits

  • include significant resource use efficiencies,

  • particularly water.

  • For every kilogram of vegetables grown in this way,

  • hundreds of liters of water is conserved compared to conventional farming methods.

  • And with the water savings

  • come similar savings in the use of fertilizer.

  • One of the highest-yielding farms

  • grows over 350 times more food per square meter than a conventional farm.

  • And weatherproofing

  • means complete control of incoming contaminants and pests,

  • completely eliminating the need for the use of chemical pesticides.

  • And not to be mistaken,

  • these farms can produce enormous amounts of food,

  • with one of the biggest facilities

  • producing 30,000 heads of vegetables a day.

  • However, as with any new technology or innovation,

  • there are some drawbacks.

  • As you would imagine,

  • growing food in this way can be incredibly energy-intensive.

  • Also, these farms can only produce a small variety of vegetables commercially

  • and the overall cost of the production still is quite high.

  • And in order to address these issues,

  • some of the biggest and most sophisticated farms

  • are making significant investments, starting with energy efficiency.

  • In order to reduce the high energy usage,

  • there are efforts to develop higher-efficiency LEDs,

  • to develop lasers optimized for plant growth

  • and using even fiber-optic cables like these

  • to channel sunlight directly into an indoor vertical farm

  • during the day to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

  • Also, to reduce the labor costs associated with hiring a more sophisticated,

  • more urban and also more high-skilled labor force,

  • robotics in automation is used extensively in large-scale facilities.

  • And you can never really be too resource-efficient.

  • Building indoor vertical farms in and around urban city centers

  • can help to shorten the agricultural supply chain

  • and also help to maintain the nutritional content in vegetables.

  • Also, there are food deserts in many countries

  • that have little to no access to nutritious vegetables,

  • and as this industry matures,

  • it will become possible to provide more equitable access

  • to high-quality, highly nutritious vegetables

  • in even the most underprivileged of communities.

  • And finally, and this is really exciting for me personally,

  • indoor vertical farming can actually be integrated seamlessly

  • into the cityscape

  • to help repurpose idle, underutilized and unused urban infrastructure.

  • In fact, this is already happening today.

  • Ride-sharing services have taken hundreds of thousands of cars off the road

  • and they have significantly reduced the need for parking.

  • This is a farm that we installed in central Beijing

  • in an underutilized underground parking structure

  • to grow vegetables for the nearby hotels.

  • Underutilized infrastructure

  • is not simply limited to large-scale civil engineering projects,

  • and they can also include smaller spaces like idle restaurant corners.

  • This is an example of a farm that we installed

  • directly into the partition of a hotel entrance

  • in order to grow fresh herbs and microgreens on-site for the chefs.

  • Honestly, if you look around,

  • you will find underutilized space everywhere,

  • under, around and inside of urban developments.

  • This is a farm that we installed into an empty office corner

  • to grow fresh vegetables for the employees in nearby cafes.

  • I get to be a part of all these cool projects

  • and working in the agricultural industry

  • to improve access and affordability

  • to fresh and nutritious produce,

  • hopefully soon by anyone anywhere,

  • has been the greatest joy and also the most humbling

  • and intellectually challenging thing I've ever done.

  • And now that I've convinced you that agriculture can be quite sexy,

  • you'll be surprised and shocked to know

  • that I still have trouble

  • fully articulating how and why I decided to work, and continue to work,

  • in the agricultural industry.

  • But a couple of years ago, I found a rather unique answer

  • hiding in plain sight.

  • You see, I read an article

  • about how your name,

  • particularly your last name,

  • can have a strong influence

  • on everything from your personality to your professional career.

  • This is my Japanese last name:

  • Oda.

  • And the characters translate literally

  • into "small farm."

  • (Laughter)

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Joseph Geni Reviewer: Joanna Pietrulewicz

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室內垂直農場是農業的未來嗎?| 斯圖爾特-奧達 (Are indoor vertical farms the future of agriculture? | Stuart Oda)

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    林宜悉 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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