3

votes

Feelings about futuristic farming methods?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 02, 2012 at 3:46 PM

What kind of methods of futuristic farming would fit into your idea of eating with a evolutionary stand point ?

Where would you draw the line as to what is acceptable and what changes to the food system would you be willing to change ?

I'm thinking on the lines of farming fish way out in the ocean, aquaponics, hydroponics or simply eating more fruit and veg rather than meats etc. I know there's some debate around the sustainability of Paleo eating, but for arguments sake we will presume that it isn't sustainable and something needs to give.

3dc940ac9be21e45cf83207814c8cd46

(544)

on February 16, 2013
at 04:52 PM

Joshua, I'd venture to say that almost very 'lawn' is far from 'benign'. Weed killer alone (example- to get rid of 'weeds' like dandelions is a huge problem. As well, water use and mowing are issues. If lawns were outlawed and people encouraged to grow food or let others use the space, it would be grand!

96d492bc621cf194ec53acd8084dadb0

on July 15, 2012
at 02:50 PM

Matt, you say that there're a shortage of farmers to farm these urban farms. Does that mean there are actually jobs for urban farmers? Jobs that cannot be filled, or are you saying that there aren't enough people willing to do it. I would love to explore that opportunity. I'd be willing to move pretty much anywhere in the country where these jobs actually existed with a wage big enough to support my modest lifestyle.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on May 04, 2012
at 03:49 PM

How about living in a world that outlaws not having a lawn? Heheh, people getting in trouble for trying to grow food on their property, instead of having a nice empty green grass lawn. Welcome to the USA! Either way, outlaw was probably too strong of a word.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 03, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Happiness is a luxury for those that are starving.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 03, 2012
at 04:00 PM

Reading the literature behind sustainability several generalizations became apparent: 1) Current 'Western' Lifestyle is not sustainable. Without the advancement and introduction of many new technologies, it is not a matter of if but when it all comes crashing down. 2) Oil will not be the limiting factor, fresh water supply will become an issue in our lifetimes. Water is not a commutable resource such as oil. It is needed in too great a quantity. I understand that these changes seem outlandish but when limiting resources make these things economical, people will adopt sustainability.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 03, 2012
at 02:16 PM

We have 50% excess calorie production in this country. Most of it completely non-nutritive. And the food we're producing is getting less and less nutritious over time, because soils are becoming depleted. Somethings going to give alright, and it's the modern, petroleum-based, industrial food production system.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:33 AM

I've gotta admit of all the futuristic farming methods aquaponics does seem the most sensible and if I thought for a minute I was up to the task I would give it a go. I wonder if scaling up would work to feed lots of people would work?

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:29 AM

If we solely based our farming infrastructure on that of the past would it be possible to feed ourselves? at some juncture there has to be change and I totally agree with your ideas but something has to give, doesnt it?

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:21 AM

I like the idea of lots of small efficient organic farms close to the end consumer but I do wonder if it's actually a viable option in the rich west. I would love to farm self sufficiently but that fat bloke eating MacDonald's on his way to work at a warehouse I would think would be less than enthused by the idea. to feed 7+ billion wouldn't the ideas need to be scaled up, massively?

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 03, 2012
at 08:58 AM

I personally don't think I could happily live in a world where any entity has the legal authority to "outlaw" something as benign as a lawn.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 02, 2012
at 08:46 PM

Urban farms are so hipster right now. Heck, there's a shortage of farmers to tend these so-called urban farms. Folks fool themselves if they think their balcony boxes or window hydroponics system can provide even 1 meals worth of food per week. I'm all for sustainable, local, etc... but it has to be reasonable.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 02, 2012
at 04:09 PM

If I had a solar powered jet packs my life would be complete. Oh wait a friend might be nice, na I have a jet pack !

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11 Answers

4
81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 02, 2012
at 04:39 PM

The future of farming will be environmentally sustainable, small farms. Think of a garden in everyone's backyard, on the roof of every building, and community gardens in parks. Essentially, all of the Earth's 'food belts' are already being utilized. Certainly they could be used more efficiently but there are limits to efficacy of food production. Urban areas are places with large labor pools and areas that could be converted to food production.

Locally grown food products have the advantage of creating commerce within a community as opposed to buying from a large corporation HQ'd far away. Also, think of the reduction of energy use when large amounts of produce will not have to be refrigerated and transported long distances. There will also be reduction in fertilizer (a pollutant), pesticide use, and erosion caused by large scale farming operations. There are more benefits, such as replacing impermeable areas with green areas in urban centers but those are not related to food production.

Really, the future might end up looking a lot like our past. :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 02, 2012
at 08:46 PM

Urban farms are so hipster right now. Heck, there's a shortage of farmers to tend these so-called urban farms. Folks fool themselves if they think their balcony boxes or window hydroponics system can provide even 1 meals worth of food per week. I'm all for sustainable, local, etc... but it has to be reasonable.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:21 AM

I like the idea of lots of small efficient organic farms close to the end consumer but I do wonder if it's actually a viable option in the rich west. I would love to farm self sufficiently but that fat bloke eating MacDonald's on his way to work at a warehouse I would think would be less than enthused by the idea. to feed 7+ billion wouldn't the ideas need to be scaled up, massively?

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 03, 2012
at 04:00 PM

Reading the literature behind sustainability several generalizations became apparent: 1) Current 'Western' Lifestyle is not sustainable. Without the advancement and introduction of many new technologies, it is not a matter of if but when it all comes crashing down. 2) Oil will not be the limiting factor, fresh water supply will become an issue in our lifetimes. Water is not a commutable resource such as oil. It is needed in too great a quantity. I understand that these changes seem outlandish but when limiting resources make these things economical, people will adopt sustainability.

96d492bc621cf194ec53acd8084dadb0

on July 15, 2012
at 02:50 PM

Matt, you say that there're a shortage of farmers to farm these urban farms. Does that mean there are actually jobs for urban farmers? Jobs that cannot be filled, or are you saying that there aren't enough people willing to do it. I would love to explore that opportunity. I'd be willing to move pretty much anywhere in the country where these jobs actually existed with a wage big enough to support my modest lifestyle.

3
65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

on May 02, 2012
at 11:35 PM

  • Grass lawns that produce nothing edible should be outlawed. It's a waste of water and arable land.

  • Hydroponics should be recognized as a grossly unsustainable food production method, since it requires synthetically produced feed stock for growth.

  • As mentioned above, farms like Polyface should be held up as the gold standard.

246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 03, 2012
at 08:58 AM

I personally don't think I could happily live in a world where any entity has the legal authority to "outlaw" something as benign as a lawn.

65125edd5aafad39b3d5b3a8b4a36bb7

(6092)

on May 04, 2012
at 03:49 PM

How about living in a world that outlaws not having a lawn? Heheh, people getting in trouble for trying to grow food on their property, instead of having a nice empty green grass lawn. Welcome to the USA! Either way, outlaw was probably too strong of a word.

81fca18329e68e227cdfef3857bfef96

(1320)

on May 03, 2012
at 04:02 PM

Happiness is a luxury for those that are starving.

3dc940ac9be21e45cf83207814c8cd46

(544)

on February 16, 2013
at 04:52 PM

Joshua, I'd venture to say that almost very 'lawn' is far from 'benign'. Weed killer alone (example- to get rid of 'weeds' like dandelions is a huge problem. As well, water use and mowing are issues. If lawns were outlawed and people encouraged to grow food or let others use the space, it would be grand!

2
246ebf68e35743f62e5e187891b9cba0

(21420)

on May 03, 2012
at 09:07 AM

I've done a little research on aquaponics and have even drawn up some blueprints, using tilapia and crawfish as my food fish, with nightshades-a-plenty (tomatoes, chilis), as well as leafy greens.

I saw a setup on one show, where they had setup a bug zapper above the tilapia tank to feed the fish year-round with insects. The sump from the fish tank was pumped to an ammonia-separating tank, and the nutrient-dense (and de-ammoniated) water was circulated through the hydroponics bed, to finally end up back in the fish tank. It was a beautiful system - and something that I think would behove most families to have in the coming years of this particularly nasty financial crisis that is going on worldwide... the benefit of which may be a return to local, home-based food sourcing when pricing and availability become unobtainable.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:33 AM

I've gotta admit of all the futuristic farming methods aquaponics does seem the most sensible and if I thought for a minute I was up to the task I would give it a go. I wonder if scaling up would work to feed lots of people would work?

2
F524eaa9d58e5cd2d2368ff7bfffda9c

(480)

on May 02, 2012
at 08:21 PM

Permaculture - BEYOND SUSTAINABLE. Regenerative > Sustainable

1
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on May 02, 2012
at 09:04 PM

Polyface Farms uses smart technology combined with agro-ecology methods. It offers a very sustainable future in terms of farming methods, when adapted to local environments.

1
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on May 02, 2012
at 04:50 PM

I hope that the future of farming can be found at permies.com. If you like podcasts and that sort of thing, listen Paul Wheaton's discussions about various farming related stuff.

0
Be2d98e640ce74b0976c38c1a9d2cd37

on March 11, 2013
at 06:16 PM

Aquaponics are 100% natural and Organic by definition. You are creating natural ecosystems in controlled locations. Any introduction of chemicals, hormones, pesticides etc on any end of the spectrum is likely to kill the other end of the spectrum. Also Aquaponics has proven to scale vertically as someone asked. As a result I think that not only are Aquapoinics a 100% acceptably paleo method to growing food and a staple for the future of feeding this planet.

Hydroponics while capable of producing amazing results do so from a chemical basis and feeding their plants in a chemical fashion. For this reason I am against Hydroponics entirely.

0
4b9077bdc5240ddeb48b2125c1bd6265

(158)

on February 16, 2013
at 04:37 AM

On the face of it, I really like the idea of aquaponics too. We feed fish which produce waste that feeds plant. The plants clean up the water which goes back to the fish. And then around and around we go.

The drawbacks I see, though, are: * If it is too intensive it resembles a shed full of caged chickens. I'm sure a "caged" fish will be as happy as a caged chicken, NOT! * Fish food is generally full of grain and/or soy. Feed fish an unnatural diet consisting of heaps of grain and you will get the same old problem, o6:o3 ratio out of whack. * Getting set up CAN involve a big investment. Aquaponics seems hot right now so of course there are heaps of experts flogging, ebooks, DVD's and full blown system ranging from several to tens of thousands. * Temperature sensitivity of certain fish species and or veges. * Systems can run out of nutrients that the plants needs that don't come from the nitrogen cycle that is looked after by the fish and plants.

However as I am very keen on setting up a small backyard system I have tried to overcome these issues: * Don't overstock your fish tank. I've seen various fish stocking densities ranging from as low max of 17 kg/m3 (kilogram to a cubic meter of water) to 25kg/m3 all the way up to 40kg/m3 as a max. As a guess I would think 40kg/m3 is your caged chicken stocking density, 25kg/m3 is your barn raised chicken and under 17 (much lower) may be free range. Well technically free range would be farming from a lake or dam that has its own evosystem.
* Pay a little extra for biologically appropriate fish fod without grain or soy. Even better incorporate a feed producing system into your urban farm, ie worm/soldier fly larvae farm, duck weed pond, etc.
* Use your noggin and design a system from recycled/re-purposed materials that are food safe and locally available, ie IBC's (Intermediate Bulk Containers) and 55 gallon barrels. * Grow fish and veges that grow locally. That way you avoid heating/cooling costs of water and greenhouses/grow beds.

That was a little long winded. I have been over thinking aquaponics for a while now. So my answer is aquaponics with a sustainable, environmentally approach. And Polyface. Those guys are great :)

0
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 02, 2012
at 08:59 PM

Fish farming is a pretty awful idea in my opinion. It's like dumping your CAFO waste stream directly into your water supply. Genius, right? I guess I'm talking about intensive fish farming. Essentially they feed corn and soy. Or animal by-products (feather meal)... I just watched a TED video about a fish farm in Spain which essentially was just flooding fields and letting nature take its course. That's interesting, but I don't know if I'd call that farming.

Hydroponics... don't see what there is to be excited about. What's wrong with growing things in dirt, which has all the macro and micronutrients the plants need (as opposed to using liquid fertilizers to fortify the water).

The future? Definitely is a move away from commodity farming and back to actual food crops. Bucking the trend of the last few decades, farms are going to get small again. Food is going to be produced more locally, more seasonally. Food quality is going to matter more. Farms that work with nature are going to have a significant advantage in terms of product quality.

If anything, the future of farming is going to look more like how things were done in the 19th century than they were in the late 20th/early 21st centuries. We're not moving backwards, but rather embracing the fundamentals that can't be bucked.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 03, 2012
at 10:29 AM

If we solely based our farming infrastructure on that of the past would it be possible to feed ourselves? at some juncture there has to be change and I totally agree with your ideas but something has to give, doesnt it?

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on May 03, 2012
at 02:16 PM

We have 50% excess calorie production in this country. Most of it completely non-nutritive. And the food we're producing is getting less and less nutritious over time, because soils are becoming depleted. Somethings going to give alright, and it's the modern, petroleum-based, industrial food production system.

0
F02990386b12528111740ad6279ba29d

(1363)

on May 02, 2012
at 04:26 PM

I like to do hydroponics, they use up very very little energy and you could easily run it off of sustainably produced energy. I'm no expert on wind power, but it seems like the issue with it is it is inconsistent and not much power. This is perfect for hydroponics. Hydroponics only needs to run 1 hour in every 4 to be optimal (or close to it), and can go long periods of time without having the bubbler (or whatever system you are using) run at all. Many windmills these days don't need much wind either. This seems to be a great way to increase efficiency. Hydroponics you definitely grow more with less work (after you put in the initial work/startup cost). Getting the nutrients sustainably may be a little more difficult. But that's where the aquaponics type of systems come in. Raising fish and even animals like ducks at ponds creates a pretty good nutrient solution for the system as well as an awesome source of protein. I think nature can definitely be optimized to an extent. Even rain water seems to work for me. I was trying a new system outdoors last fall (aeroponics) and it failed because I did something wrong.. But I just left it in the ground with the seeds in their rockwool. The reservoir collected rain water and the seeds didn't die because we had a mild winter. I now have lettuce growing very quickly and I have nothing running to it, its just collecting rainwater.

0
3327924660b1e2f8f8fc4ca27fedf2b2

(2919)

on May 02, 2012
at 03:59 PM

Solar-powered jetpacks and gardening tools for those harvesting the vegetables.

07243c7700483a67386049f7b67d90a4

on May 02, 2012
at 04:09 PM

If I had a solar powered jet packs my life would be complete. Oh wait a friend might be nice, na I have a jet pack !

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