It’s no secret that our population is growing at a massive rate; by the year 2050, the earth is expected to hold around 9.6 billion people. Statistically speaking, we will need to produce 70% more food to keep up with such a boom, and our current food production systems — farming outdoors where success is dependent on good weather and the absence of pests (a.k.a. luck) — just aren’t going to cut it. Fortunately, new developments in technology and changes in thinking have provided a few viable options to help prepare for the crowded future.
Vertical farms and the utilization of greenhouses to grow crops allow for a more controlled environment to produce produce. Fruits and vegetables will be grown free of disastrous weather and devastating blights and won’t need to be shipped across the country (or world) to get to consumers, so they’ll maintain their freshness longer. The success of these gardens is focused more on technology — which we can absolutely control — rather than unpredictable forces of nature.
There are three types of lights used to grow plants indoors: flourescent, HID, and LED. Science has recently determined that colored LED lights have an impact on the growth cycle; plants can benefit from varying spectrums of light throughout their maturity. For example, blue light induces vegetative growth, and red induces flowering.
Many greenhouse factories, as they’re called, utilize a combination of colors (sometimes even including amber, green, and infrared) to boost production. Control over the light’s intensity can make a difference as well, so every technical detail of the greenhouse is monitored to maximize efficiency.
Plants aren’t the only organisms that love color. Studies have shown that up to 85% of consumers make purchase decisions based in part on color appeal (think of iconic Coca Cola red or John Deere green). Already, many urban farms are selling colorful greens and veggies to eager consumers, who increasingly prioritize local, sustainable brands.
Best of all, this technology isn’t only available to Big Businesses, mass marketers, or producers. If you have an interest in growing your own sustainable fruits and vegetables, you can install your own greenhouse at home. Although the tech may have changed since your parents’ days, the idea is still the same: create your own food source free of pesticides, pesky rodents, and bad weather.
In many cases, the key to a good greenhouse is the glass you choose. As you may know from building or upgrading your home, single-pane glass in your windows are hugely inefficient and struggle to keep heat in; you don’t want that in your greenhouse or your crops will never survive the cooler weather. There are many options to choose from (polycarbonate, film, etc.) but double-pane glass is the best choice if you experience harsh winters and want to do everything you can to keep your plants safe from outside influence.