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Traditional Farming Method
The pictured above is a tract of land that measures 2 feet wide by 4 feet long by 1 foot height with 4 rows of lettuce heads planted with 2 inches separating them from each other. The reason for this distribution of lettuce plants is due to the requirements of the plants themselves to have sufficient room to “breathe”, have unobstructed access to a light source, and for irrigation purposes. Thus the total potential capacity of this cubic growing space is 36 plants ( 4 plants wide by 9 plants long.)
To develop the systems that we propose for more efficient farming methodology, we needed to establish a baseline example, known as a “control”. For our purposes we specify this tract of land to be of a singular plane, thus a control value of 1. Our control’s specifications are 2 feet wide by 4 feet long by 1 foot height and a capacity of 36 heads of lettuce. The lettuce species in all of our examples, known commonly as Bibb lettuce, is grown to harvest specifications of 4 inch diameter at 3 inch height. The number of plants is limited by their own growth space requirements, but we’ll limit all examples to no more than 10 feet in height. This means that for the Traditional farming methods even with a 10 foot high cubic space ( 80 cubic feet total) the number of crops would still be these 36 heads of lettuce.
It is impossible to take a slice of land and suspend it in midair above another piece of land, and still provide each piece with access to air, sunlight, and water within our current level of technology. The reason for doing this is that simply there is only so much land mass on the face of the earth. Mother Nature isn’t making more at a rate useful in a human lifespan, synthetic islands like in Japan and Dubai wouldn’t be pragmatic or cost effective, and wars are currently being fought over the land that’s already here. The human race is ever increasing and if we hope to feed the expected 10 billion people by 2050, as a race we’ve got less than 31 years to figure out a solution. That goal should include feeding the estimated 815 million people chronically undernourished that we, as a race, already have. As our founders worked on a solution they pondered: IF we could indeed figure out a solution to growing more crops, using no more than the land mass already available, what would it look like?
The simplest solution we could design and build for simulating a piece of floating soil was taking a shelving system and equipping each shelf with the necessary supplies to provide everything a growing plant needs throughout its life cycle. In effect, this is a form of increasing cubic space efficiency whereby the outcome is increasing the number of crops grown within a given space by multiple factors. For example, a shelving system that’s built within the guidelines specified above, 2 feet by 4 feet by 10 feet, would be able to have at least 5 shelves capable of rearing 36 heads of Bibb lettuce each for a total of 180 heads of lettuce; that is an increase of efficiency by a factor of 5. 5 times more crops feeds 5 times more people. Investigate this solution more here.