Thursday, August 18, 2011

realcleverscience:

smarterplanet:

Dutch PlantLab Revolutionizes Farming: No Sunlight, No Windows, Less Water, Better Food | Singularity Hub

You’ve heard of paint by numbers? Get ready for feed-the-world by numbers. Dutch agricultural company PlantLab wants to change almost everything you know about growing plants. Instead of outdoors, they want farms to be in skyscrapers, warehouses, or underground using hydroponics or other forms of controlled environments. Instead of sunlight they use red and blue LEDs. Water? They need just 10% of the traditional requirements. At every stage of their high tech process, PlantLab monitors thousands of details (163,830 reports per second!) with advanced sensors to create the perfect environment for each individual type of crop. In short, they create a high tech ‘plant paradise’. See it in action in the videos below, followed by plenty of pics of their tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc. PlantLab’s revolutionary approach to agriculture may be able to leverage math and science to create a better food supply for the world’s escalating population. Fresher, local, more efficient…and they supposedly taste better too!

This. Is. AWESOME!
Everything about this is awesome. It will help the food shortage (which will only worsen as the population grows, btw), it grows more efficiently (e.g. less water, which is good cause we’re also entering a potable water shortage), and it can be done anywhere. Truly amazing. And of course I love how much science and tech is involved, from the thousands of sensors to the computer which regulates the environment, to the research into how to optimize each plant and the futurist approach to planning on LEDs and other tech to reach certain goals (e.g. pricing). This is… what I’ve been dreaming of.

And just to add a bit: RCS Highlights:

What makes PlantLab different is the hardcore scientific and mathematical innovation they are bringing to the table… Why use white light? Plants don’t want the green spectrum, and many of the wavelengths just heat the leaves and evaporate water. Instead PlantLab gives their plants light from red and blue LEDs, changing the spectrum for each different plant! The same goes for CO2, and dozens of other factors. The results are plants grown in weird purple rooms, stacked in columns, that get bigger faster and with less resources than traditional indoor horticulture… Because PlantLab’s harvest is indoors, they don’t have pests (and could quickly isolate rooms that somehow got contaminated) and they don’t need pesticides. Finally, PlantLab’s production facilities can be built almost anywhere: from the Sahara to the Artic, it’s all going to look the same indoors. So everyone’s food can be grown as local as possible. That means fresher food with less costs of transportation…

They also created a master control program, PlantLab OS, to handle all the feedback from sensors, and control the following environmental factors: light color, light intensity, light color ratios, day length, infrared, light temperature, root temperature, plant temperature, irrigation, nutrition, air velocity, air composition, humidity and CO2…

But we probably won’t see PlantLab farms springing up around the world for at least a few more years… Meeuws and his colleagues are convinced however, that the price for LEDs will continue to fall exponentially until PlantLab productions are financially feasible…

PlantLab is sticking to its vision of feeding the world through better math and science… I think PlantLab’s approach to agriculture may be a definitive one for the early 21st Century. Every crop gets its own perfect paradise, and humanity gets local, abundant food for their needs. Math and science can feed the world. Get hungry.