Urban Farming is Smart City in Practice

Smart cities are now being developed all over the world, using innovative technology to make everyday tasks faster, more convenient and safer for its residents and the government.

New and affordable technology is now available whereby new businesses and concepts emerge in a fast pace. Urban farming is one example of taking a traditional profession, moving it to where the people and restaurants are, in order to offer the premium quality at the right time, to the right customer.

Modern Urban Farming don’t need access to land or soil, and locations underground with no sunlight is actually perfect to establish a 100% controlled and optimized environment for urban farming. With high-tech sensors that collect data on anything such as soil fertility, light, air quality, and moisture combing with advanced lightning, an old parking facility, warehouse or shelter can cost effective be converted into a urban farm. A highly sophisticated and advanced farm, growing fresh salads, vegetables and crops to the nearby restaurants to order.

In the short run, technological improvements will boost urban farmers’ profits, by cutting costs and increasing yields, and should also benefit end-consumers in the form of lower prices and improved quality.

In the longer run, though, they may help give the answer to an increasingly urgent question: how can the world be fed in future without putting irreparable strain on the Earth’s soils and oceans? Between now and 2050 the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, from 7.3 billion now. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because by then most are likely to have middling incomes, and many will be well off.

To get started, here is an overview of the five important things that need to be consider when setting up an urban farm:

 1) Location and Insulation
The better insulated the indoor farm, the easier and more efficient it will be to maintain a healthy environment. You need to ensure that the area is draft free and install heaters to keep the area at the optimal temperature for your crops.

2) Air Intake

Ventilation with supplemental carbon dioxide is highly important. This is done to keep temperatures moderate and maintain carbon dioxide levels so your plants can photosynthesize. It is safer to draw incoming air from an adjacent room rather than the outdoors.

3) Air Extraction

You will need to expel hot air from the air-cooled location itself.

4) Water and Drainage
Having a water supply with the right dimension is needed. You can run the water in circular to reuse optimally and reduce the waist. The choice of soil (if any) when you grow vegetables is also crucial. Use a mixture of compost made from organic waste from city restaurants, peat and vermiculite that is sterile. Choose flats or pots to start plants in, but ensure they have adequate drainage holes. Alternatively, you can grow directly in water.

5) Electricity
Depending on their size and application, indoor farms can use varying amounts of electricity. You will need electricity for lighting, block heaters, pumps, timers, extractors and oscillating fans. Lighting is often the most challenging part of growing food indoor. There are different light colors for different types of growth and fruiting.


Start Growing

Planning your choice of crops and reduce the wastage is critical to secure an economic sustainable business more quickly. Vegetable plants that grow best indoors would include the leafy greens. They are simple to start and the best bet for a beginner urban farmer. Plants such as tomatoes and peppers will require higher levels of heat and light, while the bush beans and peas need less heat. Go for dwarf varieties when possible to save space. Squash and melons cannot do well but mushroom, lettuce, spinach, radishes and Swiss chard are ideal vegetable plants that grow indoors.

Pests are not as big an issue for urban farming, due to the controlled environment, but watch for whitefly, scale and other insects.

Since city farming food growing is done under tightly controlled operations for turning out reliable products, immune as far as possible from the vagaries of nature, technology is the key to its success.

New and affordable technology is now available whereby urban farmers use LED.

LED technology has improved markedly over the last five years, and today’s 10-watt diodes can give out something like 800-900 lumens, on par with standard metal-halide grow lamps, and slightly lower than high-pressure sodium. It is also able to tune the light source (by picking only certain colors of LED to use in a lighting setup) so that they’re only producing the wavelengths that each phase requires will result in better flowers for less wasted energy and waste heat. This saves on power bills both for lighting and fans.

Harvesting & Selling Vegetables

With the right amount of preparation and best choice of plants, you will watch tiny seedlings grow, doubling in size every day, until they are mature fruits and vegetables, and ready to harvest.

Here’s a few ideas of where you could sell them:

  • The best restaurants in your area: good chefs instantly recognize the high quality and taste of fresh produce and are happy to pay for them, especially if they can advertise you as a local supplier on their menu.
  •  Nearby health or wholefoods stores: people who appreciate fresh and local food tend to either get a veg box or they shop for it at specialist food stores. Products grown in city cellar like herbs go down great in these stores too.
  • Your city farmers’ market: farmers’ markets have become massive in recent years as people seek out high quality produce from small local producers. Take your fresh produce along and you’ll find plenty of interest.

Urban production strengthens the creative character of cities. It’s important for cities to be able to retain their creative personnel. Creative and skilled craftspeople and their products is a key contributor to society’s sense of identity and the shape of its cultural output.

“Urban food is smart city in practice”, as the number of urban farmers will increase in the next few years. This will lead to a sustainable supply of quality food in the city as well as a cleaner city as the waste is used as compost in the urban farms.

Originally this article was published here, IntelZone AS.