The farm of the future may not be the traditional kind with crops planted in vast fields and serviced by tractors and subject to the vagaries of weather and soil quality. According to Buzzfeed, the farm of the future will be in warehouses in the middle of the city, with crops #Growing in nutrient baths and temperature, light, and even the atmosphere tightly controlled.
Right now these urban farms are producing trendy salad greens such as arugula and kale favored by fashionable foodies. The product is more expensive currently than naturally grown produce, but the potential for significant cost savings are apparent as the urban farms scale up.
The urban farms are far more productive than the rural kind. The growing season is year-round, 24/7. The warehouses where the food is being produced are near enough to restaurants and supermarkets so as to keep transportation costs low. The urban farms require less water than the natural, rural kind, a consideration where clean water has become scarce in certain parts of the world.
One of the factors that are holding back the proliferation of these facilities is high startup costs. Some existing agricultural factories, as some people have called them, have failed for various reasons. Nevertheless, some entrepreneurs are planning to expand the crops being grown, to cucumbers, peppers, and various berries.
The technology for these types of farms will certainly be adapted as people begin to settle other planets. No one is going to plant crops on the moon or Mars (at least until terraforming takes hold on the Red Planet.) But a dedicated agriculture facility would provide all the needs for future space settlers
The question also arises, what to call these new factory grown food. It cannot, at least according to current law, be called “organic” despite the fact that the method uses no pesticides. Call it “post-organic.” The crops are generally not genetically modified because the environment is altered to suit the plants and not the other way around.
Are these type of vertical farms the wave of the future? Very likely, sooner rather than later, a lot of food we eat will be grown indoors, with LED lights rather than the sun.