The short answer is: If you look at the facts, growing in soil is no longer a sustainable way to grow food for the 7 billion people on the planet. We recommend Vertical Farm by Dickson Despommier for an in depth understanding of the crisis at hand.
The long answer is: Modern times require modern thinking. If you love this planet then consider the environmental cost of trying to feed 7 billion people:
- It takes a land mass the size of South America to feed all the people on the planet today.
- In five years, we will have 10 billion people and we will need an additional land mass the size of Brazil to keep feeding them.
- The runoff from modern agriculture is creating dead zones in our oceans.
- The mowing down of trees and forests is killing – in an instant – billions of species and destroying the biodiversity of ecosystems that took billions of years to evolve.
- If we can change our ways today, we can allow oceans and forests to return to their wild state. There is still enough life on the planet for the environment to go back to a more natural state. But in order to do this, we have to grow up! Literally – we have to farm vertically. Let the wild return to the wild and let humans think more urban. Give up dreams of going back to live in the wilderness, because we just mess it up when we do. Use modern technology to create safe, nutrient-dense food in a sustainable way. You live in the modern world. You have smart phones and computers and you drive cars and fly in planes. Why not let technology that is grounded in good philosophy help you live a more healthy life and help our planet out at the same time?
To understand aeroponics, first let’s look at what plants do.
What foods do plants eat? Do they eat sunshine, minerals, fertilizer, microorganisms, dead animals, cow dung, water, miracle-gro? What do they eat?
The answer is plants don’t eat anything. Very simply put, a plant utilizes the four elements:
- Air (CO2)
- Water (H2O)
- Earth (provides nitrogen and the minerals from the soil that act as cofactors for all the enzymatic reactions within a plant)
- Fire (photons from the sun for photosynthesis)
From these, they make their own food which they burn to make MATTER. Consider a seed turning into a huge tree. Where did the mass of that tree come from? Well, plants make their own food by way of photosynthesis.
Carbon dioxide + water + light = sugar + oxygen
Then they burn this sugar to make everything else that makes up a tree. Photosynthesis is the basis of life. Plants then feed the animal kingdom one way or another as they are the major source of sugar or carbohydrates needed for animal metabolism.
Today we know that we can substitute sunlight with the exact wavelengths of light that the plant will best utilize. Using artificial light when sunlight isn’t available makes it easy to grow food all year long in any location. You can find grow-lights online or at a grow shop near you.
We can directly feed the plant the minerals and nitrogen it needs without the unnecessary chemicals found in fertilizers. Tim Blank has spent many years researching at the Epcot Land Pavilion at Disney and NASA to figure out exactly what minerals are needed for maximizing plant nutrition and human nutrition. Traditional gardening with soil is either missing minerals today, or it requires a lot of knowledge about fertilizers, micro-organisms to break down organic plant and animal matter to make minerals accessible to plants, etc. We don’t need the soil or the microorganisms in aeroponic growing.
Aeroponic growing is the latest development in hydroponic growing as the roots are not constantly submerged in water. A timer water-drip system allows for the roots to be periodically exposed to water and then air. This increases the rate of growth.