There’s a strong possibility that as oil prices rise over the coming decades, it’s going to become increasingly difficult to transport food over vast distances to our local supermarkets, simply because it won’t be economically viable at today’s prices. This either means food prices will rocket, or we’ll have to look at alternative methods of farming or producing our food more locally.
The Agri-Cube from Japanese company Daiwa House is a hydroponic growing factory which fits into a single car parking space, which can produce up to 10,000 vegetables a year with no harmful chemicals needed. The secret lies in the fact that the box contains everything that’s required, from specially adjustable lighting to sophisticated nutrient and climate control.
The product can also accept solar panels to lower running costs, but even so they say that the cost of producing a full year’s crop comes down to around $0.45 per vegetable. The idea is similar to the Dutch PlantLabs initiative, which uses special LED lighting and computer control to deliver the same kind of productivity on a small or large scale. Their Plant Production Units let you control light color, root temperature, air velocity and a number of other factors to fine tune the growing cycle and maximize the crop.
The whole thing is controlled by a Plant OS and Growing Recipes which ensure successful cultivation at all stages of the process. There’s a good article on the project at Singularity Hub.
The Agri-Cube costs from $70,000, and it initially being targeted at places like restaurants, hospitals, hotels and other operations that might benefit from a local and constant source of vegetables. One question that these intensive production methods raise is whether it will be like factory farmed meats and fowl. Will the end result eventually mean a sacrifice in nutritional quality and flavor? Time will tell.