Monday, December 21, 2009

Vertical Farms

Vertical Farms
Andre Willers
21 Dec 2009

Synopsis :
Create more food-producing acreage by using skyscraper technology .

Discussion :
Scientific American Nov 2009 p60 " The rise of vertical farms"

This is an old idea .
Laube and allotments are two dimensional variants . Seafarms and vertical skyscraper farms are three-dimensional variants .

Seafarms are as old or older than land agriculture .
Cf sea-weirs on stoneage seasites .
Cf Chinese fishfarms .
Skyscraper farms were inherent in the multistory lake-dwellings in Europe . Note the grassy roof , for intense cultivation . (Now being reintroduced)

Why the present reluctance to invest capital ?
Collapse Sensitivity is the main reason .
After a number of collapses (over thousands of years) , the surviving systems are very sensitive to single-points of failure .

While present agro-business is just as vulnerable to failure as Vertical Farms , the people in control of capital allocation do not see it that way .

They invest in the model that has the shortest distance to subsistence farming , the failsafe of our civilization .
However , with the present overpopulation , an agricultural failure will not leave subsistence farming as a failsafe fallback .

A heavily defended vertically integrated farm is more viable . Something like this has already happened in the form of monasteries during the Dark Ages .

The Key:
Package every Vertical Farm with a certain acreage of organic farms .
This should unblock the unconscious reluctance to allocate capital .

Some speculations:
1.Cyborg trees .
Much has been made of cyborg humans .
What about cyborg trees ?

We already have vertical farms: Palm trees and coconut trees can be completely utilized (100%) . But we want something hundreds or thousands of meters high , that grows quickly but durably , with fruits all year round .

A cyborg tree . Part organic , part steel , concrete and electronic . Largely self-regulating . A Druid's paradise or hell .
Monkeyform humans .

2.Underwater cyborg mangroves .
Real seafarming in enclosed mangrove-root pockets .
Merman humanoforms .

3.Orbital Forests .
Put the trees in orbit and have roots that dangle into the atmosphere to soak up the CO2 .

Cf aerial forests .

The cyborg tree (carbon and diamond fibre) would be shaped like a hairy bola , spinning with the rotation of the earth in Low Earth Orbit . Solar energy differences would supply power . The roots would be nearly stationary relative to the planet at the lowest point inside the atmosphere .. Nutrients like CO2 , water , volcanic debris , etc would be combed out of the atmosphere .

Intelligence would be supplied by humanoforms and AI's . This would have to be integrated with the planetary ecology , else this system will strip the planet bare .

4.Cyborg Tree Space Habitats .
This has been discussed in science fiction . Wood makes an excellent vacuum construction material . Interlaced with waterbearing veins , it is a good shield against radiation . All you need is carbon , water , some trace elements and intelligence.

A good space habitat . But you will have a lot of birds , exploding into all the habitat niches .

You can't keep a good tweety down .


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