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TSS独家——城市垂直农业:未来是(在)城市种植的食物

EXCLUSIVE – Urban Vertical Farming: The Future is City-Raised Food

by Vittorio Bollo

The current world population is approximately 7.8-billion people. Estimates project a global population of 8.5-billion by 2030, 9.2-billion by 2040, and 9.7-billion by 2050. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of mouths to feed. Urbanization will increase in lock-step with this population growth. Current estimates regarding urbanization from the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects are that over half (more than 4-billion) people live in urban areas, which is set to rise to more than two-thirds of the world’s population by 2050. These statistics have real implications for our collective future.

目前世界人口约为78亿;据估计,到2030年全球人口将达到85亿、到2040年达到92亿、到2050年达到97亿;仍旧有很多人要养家糊口,城市化将与人口增长同步增长;联合国的《世界城市化展望》(Current estimates regarding urbanization)目前对城市化的估计是:超过一半(超过40亿)的人口居住在城市地区、到2050年城市人口将超过世界人口的三分之二;这些统计数字对我们这共同的未来具有真正一定的影响。

Consider that agricultural land will become increasingly scarce as land is sequestered for human development and urbanization. That means less arable land for growing and raising the food people will need. And that’s not even taking into consideration how already dramatically depleted much of the world’s arable land is of nutrients and sustainable agricultural viability, with Scientific American predicting in 2014 that the world will only have 60 years of farming left if current levels of top soil degradation continue. 

考虑到农业用地将变得越来越稀少、土地被隔离用于人类发展和城市化;这就意味着对于种植和生产而言,人们所需粮食的可耕地面积也减少了;《科学美国人》(Scientific American)在2014年预测:如果目前的表层土壤退化水平继续下去的话,那么世界将只剩下60年的耕种年份了。

One solution is to meld two seemingly disparate factors together, namely agriculture and urbanization. Vertical farming in urban areas is becoming an increasingly attractive and even viable concept, including being actively promoted among agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This article will provide an overview of some of the urban and vertical farming techniques that could essentially help revolutionize the way we make food in the future.

一种解决方法是将两个看似完全不同的因素融合在一起,即农业和城市化;城市地区的垂直农业正成为一个越来越有吸引力甚至可行的概念,包括在诸如美国农业部(USDA)等机构中积极推广。这篇文章将提供一些城市和垂直农业技术的概述,这些技术将在本质上帮助我们在未来彻底改变制作食物的方式。

Why Vertical Farming?

为什么是垂直农场?

Vertical farming goes beyond being a mere alternative to a (very near) future world bereft of arable land. For example, most vertical farming options require less water than conventional farming; up to 70% less water on average.

垂直农业不仅仅是(近年来)未来世界所缺乏可耕地的替代品;例如,大多数垂直农业比传统农业需要更少的水——平均减少70%的量。

Space, or the lack thereof due to increased populations, is a hugely important reason why vertical farming should be taken seriously. It will allow for foods to be grown in vertically stacked layers housed in  structures such as purposefully-built skyscrapers, abandoned or converted high-rises, shipping containers, warehouses, or even as part of existing residential or office buildings.

空间——由于人口增长而缺乏,是垂直农业应该被认真对待的一个非常重要的原因;它将允许在垂直堆叠层中种植食品,并将其安置在专门建造的摩天大楼、废弃或改建的高楼、集装箱、仓库等结构中,甚至将其作为现有住宅或办公楼的一部分。

Also, these forms of indoor farming will not only save on space for growing food, but should require far less soil to do so. This is especially true of vertical farming techniques such as aeroponic and hydroponic growing (both of which will be discussed hereafter). Furthermore, ambient conditions inside these indoor farms such as temperature, humidity, illumination, irrigation/moisture levels, and prevailing gases can be far better controlled in these artificial environments than they can ever be with the vagaries and capriciousness of climate found in nature. That alone means food security for communities is more easily attained and maintained.   

此外,这些室内种植方式不仅可以节省种植粮食的空间,而且需要的土壤也要很少;对于垂直农业技术,如气培法和水培法(两者将在后面讨论)尤其如此;此外这些室内农场内的环境条件,如温度、湿度、光照、灌溉/水分水平和气体在这些人工环境中可以比在大自然中所发现变幻莫测的气候中更好地控制,仅仅这一点就意味着更容易实现和维持社区的粮食安全。

Ultimately, vertical farming should be more sustainable than industrialized farming, and even traditional farming methods. It is an exciting, dynamic concept – and relatively new too, with the term having only been coined in 1998 by Dickson D. Despommier, a professor of parasitology and environmental science at Columbia University.

最终,垂直农业应该比工业化农业更可持续,甚至比传统农业方法更可持续。这是一个令人兴奋的、动态的概念,也是一个相对较新的概念,这个词是哥伦比亚大学寄生虫学和环境科学教授迪克森•D•德斯波米耶(Dickson D. Despommier)在1998年创造的。

Vertical Farming Methods to Consider

考虑垂直的耕作方法

Hydroponics

水栽培

For the sake of clarity, hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a nutrient-rich water solution, hence its name. Hydroponics does not use soil of any kind. Rather, a plant’s root system is supported by growing in an inert medium. Examples of media used in hydroponics include perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, or peat moss. Unlike most vertical farming concepts, which are relatively new or even high-tech, hydroponics has been a known and used alternative to traditional farming for thousands of years. The fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon in ancient Mesopotamia and the ‘floating gardens’ that Marco Polo marveled about in his travels through China in the 13th century are just two of the earliest-known examples of hydroponics usage.

为了(了解)清楚起见,水培法是一种在营养丰富的水溶液中种植植物的方法,因此得名。水培法不使用任何土壤。相反,植物的根系是在惰性介质中生长的。水培中使用的介质包括珍珠岩、岩棉、粘土球团或泥炭苔。与大多数相对较新的甚至是高科技的垂直农业概念不同,水培法已经作为传统农业的一种已知和使用了数千年。传说中的古代美索不达米亚的巴比伦空中花园和马可波罗在13世纪游历中国时惊叹的“漂浮花园”,只是已知的最早的水培栽培例子中的两个。

Hydroponics is popular due to not requiring soil, huge space savings, and the ability to use up to 90% less water than land-based farming. There are different types of hydroponics systems, four of which include:

水培法很受欢迎——因为它不需要土壤、节省了大量的空间,而且比陆地耕作少用90%的水,有不同类型的水培系统,其中四种包括:

  • The ebb and flow system: also known as the “flood and drain system.”It is commonly used by commercial growers, and requires a submersible pump in a reservoir that then feeds water into plant trays suspended above at regular intervals. This can often be in the form of a light spray or mist.
  • 1.潮涨、落系统: 又称“洪、排水系统”——它通常被商业种植者所使用,需要一个储水池中的潜水泵,然后定期将水注入悬浮在上面的植物托盘中,这通常是一种光喷雾或薄雾的形式。
  • The deepwater culture (DWC): also known as the reservoir system, whereby the roots are kept permanently floating in a deep pool or reservoir of nutrient-rich water.
  • 深水栽培(DWC): 也被称为水库系统,在这个系统中,根系永久漂浮在一个深水池或富含营养的水库中。
  • The deep water culture system: also known as the “lettuce raft” and ideal for small-scale or home-based plant-growing, whereby plants are grown in a ‘raft’ floating in a pool of nutrient-rich water.
  • 深水栽培系统: 也被称为“生菜筏”,是小型或家庭植物种植的理想选择,植物生长在漂浮在营养丰富的水池中的“筏”上。
  • The wick system: This is a passive system with very low overheads and the most basic form of hydroponics.
  • 灯芯系统:这是一种低成本的被动系统,是最基本的水培形式。

Aeroponics

雾培(雾化栽培)

“Grow 30% More, 3x Faster, with 98% Less Water” – that is the assertion of Tower Garden, a company that offers stacked growing beds using what is known as aeroponics, which is an advanced form of hydroponics. Aeroponics grows plants suspended in an air or mist environment. Unsurprisingly, this extraordinary space age-like innovation was pioneered by NASA in the 1990s when the space agency was seeking efficient ways to grow plants in space.

“增长30%、增加三倍、减少98%的水”——这是水塔园(Tower Garden)公司的主张,该公司提供使用所谓的“雾培”技术的层叠种植床,是一种先进的水培方式;在空气或雾环境中种植悬浮植物;不出所料的这种类似太空时代的非凡创新是由美国宇航局在20世纪90年代率先提出的,当时宇航局正在寻找在太空种植植物的有效方法。

Although currently one of the lesser-applied vertical farming options, aeroponics is undoubtedly sustainable, particularly as it uses no soil and a staggeringly small amount of water. New-Jersey based AeroFarms claims that its closed-loop aeroponic systems use 95% less water than traditional field farmed-food, with yields 390 times higher per square foot. Interestingly, observations have shown that plants grown in an aeroponics environment have a more vigorous uptake of vitamins and minerals. This is because roots suspended in air are continuously exposed to oxygen whereas those more exposed to water lose oxygen over time. That factor makes aeroponic plants potentially more nutrient-rich and healthier. Furthermore, a lack of soil means no digging and less mess, no ground pests, and no risk of contaminated soil.

虽然是目前应用较少的垂直农业选择之一,但雾培无疑是可持续的,尤其是在不需要土壤和少量水的情况下;总部位于新泽西的AeroFarms公司声称,他们的闭环aeroponic(雾化栽培法)系统比传统的农田农业节省95%的水,每平方英尺的产量高出390倍;有趣的是据观察表明,在气培环境中生长的植物对维生素和矿物质的吸收更旺盛,这是因为根部悬浮在空气或者持续暴露在氧气中,而那些更多暴露在水中的根随着时间的推移会失去氧气,这一因素使得雾培植物更富有营养,更健康;此外,土壤的缺乏意味着没有挖掘和更少繁琐步骤、没有地面害虫、没有污染土壤的风险。

‘Greenscrapers’

‘Greenscrapers’ or ‘plantscrapers’ could be the vertical farming equivalent of skyscrapers. The concept of these ‘farming skycrapers” is simple: turn tall buildings into farms while still functioning as office or residential towers. These de facto vertical greenhouses would be integrated directly into the building, most probably using some form of hydroponics as the growing technique therein.

“Greenscraper”或“Plantscraper”可能是垂直农业中的摩天大楼;这些“农业摩天大楼”的概念很简单: 把高楼变成农场,同时又能作为办公或住宅;事实上的垂直温室将直接集成到建筑中,最可能的是使用某种形式的水培作为其中的生长技术。

One possible solution would be a rack transport system that gradually moves planting boxes from floor level to ceiling level within a vertical greenhouse. The benefit of this is that no artificial light is required. As with many vertical farming options, the system would probably be highly automated, with all environmental factors (e.g. temperature, light, humidity levels, and so forth) controlled by automated systems. Admittedly, high levels of humidity could be problematic in buildings housing people in their work or home, but highly innovative architectural design, engineering, and interior landscaping could surely be called upon to provide the required solutions.

一种可能的解决方案是在垂直温室内采用机架运输系统,将种植箱从地面逐渐移动到天花板;这样做的好处是不需要人工光源与许多垂直农场选择一样,该系统可能高度自动化、所有环境因素(例如温度、光照、湿度等)都由自动化系统控制,以及高湿度对居住在工作或家中的人来说是有问题的,但是高度创新的建筑设计、工程和室内景观肯定可以被要求提供所需的解决方案。

Modular Farms

模块化农场

In 2019, Forbes wrote about the growing concept of “urban resilience” in a fast-urbanizing world, in which urban centers are able to be resilient to externalities such as climate change and major disruptions in global supply chains. An important aspect of that resilience is that of local food production. This self-reliability regarding food production should allow cities to be more self-sustaining and urbanites more food secure. Forbes further contends that, although vertical farming is indeed the future of urban farming, that it simply cannot for now compete with large-scale, less expensive traditional ‘horizontal’ farming.

2019年,《福布斯》(Forbes)写道:”在快速城市化的世界中,“城市韧性”的概念越来越流行;”在这个概念中城市中心能够对气候变化和全球供应链的重大中断等外部因素具有弹性;这种恢复力的一个重要方面是当地粮食生产,这种粮食生产的自我可靠性应该使城市更能自我维持,城市居民也更有粮食安全;《福布斯》还认为尽管垂直农业确实是城市农业的未来,但它目前还无法与规模大、成本低的传统“水平”农业相竞争。

If so, there is an immediate solution: urban micro-farming and, more specifically, modular farms. Micro-farming is what Maximum Yield defines as, “agriculture that is done on a smaller scale in urban and suburban areas. As the name suggests, microfarms typically operate in small land areas of five acres or less”. Modular farms use small, automated modular food-growing equipment, often within just a few square feet. These farms can be interconnected to create indoor farms, thus allowing scalability that works within the confines of existing buildings. They can function equally well outdoors as free-standing modules. The growing environment is entirely controlled remotely via the cloud. These modular ‘growing sheds and racks’ are lightweight enough to be easily placed on rooftops and even on balconies.

如果是这样,那么有一个直接的解决方案: 城市微型农场,更具体地说是模块化农场;微型农业是最高产量的定义,即“在城市和郊区小规模进行的农业” 顾名思义,微型农场通常在五英亩或更小的土地上经营,模块化农场使用小型自动化模块化食品种植设备,这通常在几平方英尺的范围内,这些可以相互连接创建室内农场,从而在现有建筑的范围内实现可扩展性,另外它们在户外也可以作为独立模块使用;成长环境完全通过云端远程控制,这些模块化的“生长棚和架子”足够轻到可以很容易地放在屋顶甚至阳台上。

Conclusion: The Future of Farming is Urban

结论: 未来则是城市化农业

Always with start-up cost and logistical implications in mind, of course, there are nevertheless numerous reasons to be (cautiously) excited about the future of urban vertical farming. They’re worth listing here: A near-total lack of need for soil of any kind; Huge reductions in water usage; Greater control over growing processes; Mitigation to climate change factors; Year-round growing potential; large-scale local growing potential; Enormous scalability options, from large-scale operations to home-based micro-growing systems; Intelligent re-use of existing abandoned buildings; Allowing existing arable lands to rejuvenate – the list can go on and on.

当然,考虑到启动成本和物流方面的影响,我们仍有许多理由(谨慎地)对城市立体农场的未来感到期待,这值得的例子如: 几乎完全不需要任何种类的土壤、用水量大幅度减少、更好地控制生长过程、减缓气候变化因素、全年增长潜力、大规模的本地增长潜力、巨大的可扩展性选择;从大规模操作到家庭微型生长系统、善用现有弃置楼宇、允许现有的可耕地进行更新,这样的例子还可以很多很多。

Finally, there could be a further interesting development with the widespread uptake of urbanized vertical farming in the future: perhaps city dwellers of the future will be far more savvy and involved regarding how their food is grown and made compared to ours and recent urbanized generations. They could even look forward to food that is more nutritious and has far less impacts on the environment. That could surely itself be a positive upside to a more crowded, urbanized planet.

最后,随着城市化垂直农业在未来的广泛普及,可能会有一个更有趣的发展: 与我们和最近的城市化世代相比,未来的城市居民在如何种植和制造食物方面可能会更加精确普遍;他们甚至可以更有营养、对环境影响小的食物;对于一个更加拥挤、城市化的星球来说,这无疑就是积极的一面。

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