Homepage Forums After Fusion Farming

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #1288
    Avatarnemmart
    Member

    … have been reading about window farming and ran across the following link:

    dutch-plantlab-revolutionizes-farming

    It seems like the major inputs for this type of farming would be: energy and water — using FF and desalination, both are cheap.

    Now, it’s also true that FF would transform traditional farming — farming is very energy intensive — so why switch to … let’s call it “warehouse farming”?

    Well there are a few reasons:
    1) vegetables that don’t have to be designed with a long shelf life just taste better.
    2) world population is expanding — many places already don’t have enough farrm land / proper climate and must import food
    3) depletion of top soil at existing farms
    4) the world is eating up pristine forest for farm land, that’s a terrible trade off
    5) the run-offs from traditional farming are creating vast dead zones in the oceans

    Even with FF, due to the capital costs, warehouse farming would probably be significantly more expensive than traditional farming, but there are clear benefits.

    Thoughts?

    #11116
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Indirectly related… with FF powering sewage reclamation plants in the big cities and churning out cheap organic fertilizer along with clean water a new type of techno-ecology might evolve between the cities and the farms…. maybe…

    #11126
    Avatardennisp
    Member

    I just ran some numbers on indoor farming. Average sunlight per square meter is 250 watts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insolation

    The dutch plantlab doubles photosynthetic efficiency, so we can figure 125 watts/m^2.

    Crops and pastures take up about half of U.S. land area:
    http://www.ajcn.org/content/78/3/660S.full

    U.S. total land area is about 9 million square kilometers. Let’s assume we get more efficient with our food production, perhaps going more vegetarian and/or converting to a lot of lab-grown meat by 2050 or so. Also we’re getting rid of ethanol production. For nice round numbers we’ll say we need one million square kilometers for food production. Maybe we can do with less, but probably not by an order of magnitude.

    A million square kilometers is a trillion square meters, so we’d need 125 terawatts to convert entirely to indoor farming, in the U.S. alone, not counting desalination. Current world energy production is about 17 terawatts. Not to mention, we’d need to build a million square kilometers’ worth of indoor structures and light sources.

    With focus fusion it might be a distant possibility, but even then it’d be tough. But it might work for high-value specialty crops that are normally shipped long distances.

    But that’s not the theoretical limit. What if we could use some kind of nanotechnology to synthesize healthy, good-tasting food?

    One watt-hour is about equal to one kCal (dietary calorie). Let’s say we need 2000 per day per person. At 25% thermodynamic efficiency for the synthesis process, that’s an input of about 8 kWh per day per person. Divide by 24 to get a third of a kilowatt per person.

    By the time we have technology like this, we could easily have 9 billion people on the planet. Food synthesis would then require just 3 terawatts for the entire world’s food supply.

    In the meantime, Zapkitty’s idea for fertilizer production sounds pretty good…

    #11144
    AvatarMatt M
    Member

    Massive starvation ahead… perhaps.

    Most of the non-oil producing 3rd world countries are one bad grain harvest in the Ukraine
    away from starvation on a biblical scale. This is because populations are peaking while grain
    is being diverted into gas tanks in the developed world. In addition, the conversion to ‘organic’
    farming will generally reduce yields by 30% to 40% from standard farming practices.

    This problem will become increasingly acute as the birthrates in these 3rd world countries
    collapse. Iran has seen a drop in 20 years from women having 6 babies to women having
    1.5 babies. 30 years from now, many nations will have a mushroom economy – with a small
    group of workers attempting to support a mushroom cap of dependent elderly. Poor nations
    will cease to function.

    However, with small cheap fusion reactors, the possiblity exists for inexpensive desalination
    plants and the pyrolytic conversion of lignocellulose into sugar (grass and wood into food).
    That would create the possiblity of a soft landing for these poor nations.

    We are on the verge of the first significant non-disease induced reduction in human population
    ever. In 50 years we will drop from 8 billion to 6 billion.

    #11145
    Avatardennisp
    Member

    Sugar from cellulose is an interesting concept, I hadn’t heard of that.

    Fusion would make biofuels obsolete, too.

    #11147
    AvatarMatt M
    Member
    #11242
    AvatarWarwick
    Member

    … have been reading about window farming and ran across the following link:

    dutch-plantlab-revolutionizes-farming

    It seems like the major inputs for this type of farming would be: energy and water—using FF and desalination, both are cheap.

    Now, it’s also true that FF would transform traditional farming—farming is very energy intensive—so why switch to … let’s call it “warehouse farming”?

    Well there are a few reasons:
    1) vegetables that don’t have to be designed with a long shelf life just taste better.
    2) world population is expanding—many places already don’t have enough farrm land / proper climate and must import food
    3) depletion of top soil at existing farms
    4) the world is eating up pristine forest for farm land, that’s a terrible trade off
    5) the run-offs from traditional farming are creating vast dead zones in the oceans

    The problem is that once you start living off aeroculture or aquaculture food, your population will develop significant deficiencies. You need mineral soil for … minerals, amongst other things. Magnesium, calcium, there’s a reason they’re called alkaline earth metals. And once you think of adding something to the water, there will probably be something else you haven’t thought of.

    1) with more energy, transport the vegetables around more frequently and you don’t need the long shelf life. (Or irradiation)

    3) is caused by cutting down trees, very unfortunate and short-sighted practice by farmers, which re-regulation needs to prevent. Nothing a private individual can do about that, it’s a political issue. Cutting the trees also causes podsolisation which causes earthworms to die off, destroying soil fertility. Leading to the need for more chemicals…
    The only way, outside of direct regulations, that this is going to be changed, is if there were a widespread return to small-scale high-quality agriculture with less emphasis on spatial economies of scale.

    4) Yes, it truly is terrible but hopefully kicking biofuels in the bin should make a big difference.

    5) Organic arable farming doesn’t create these runoffs. Again largely a political issue, especially since animal farming is being heavily subsidised by the taxpayer in many places, and this includes factory farms which are amongst the worst polluters.
    http://www.pcrm.org/media/news/usdas-new-myplate-icon-at-odds-with-federal
    Factory farming, in turn, means that there is then less food to go around for humans, because it takes a lot more arable land to feed up an animal. Traditional pastoral farming was exactly that – pastures on marginal land, not having a big impact on the human food supply.

    Of course, the person that said you get 40% less yield from organic rather than chemical arable farming is right, the yield is somewhat less, as anyone knows who has tried both ways. In the short term (until organic gets going properly) the difference can be even greater. But globally there isn’t a shortage of arable land just to feed humans – it’s biofuels and factory farms that we can’t afford.

    2) is the rub – nothing wrong in principle with importing food if you have something to export. Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen wrote extensively about how shortage of funds, rather than shortage of food, is the real reason for food poverty. Can focus fusion impact the distribution of wealth between countries? How much can it impact it?

    #11244
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Warwick wrote:

    The problem is that once you start living off aeroculture or aquaculture food, your population will develop significant deficiencies. You need mineral soil for … minerals, amongst other things. Magnesium, calcium, there’s a reason they’re called alkaline earth metals. And once you think of adding something to the water, there will probably be something else you haven’t thought of.

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. Hydro- and aeroponics systems use tailored mineral solutions to start out with. What deficiencies are you speaking of?

    Some organic farming enthusiasts and lobbyists tend to treat ‘ponics as a competitor and a few occasionally go a bit overboard. Factoids get into the wild that have no relationship with what actually goes on in a ‘ponics farm.

    … and yeah, a hobby when I was younger 🙂

    #11246
    AvatarWarwick
    Member

    zapkitty wrote:

    The problem is that once you start living off aeroculture or aquaculture food, your population will develop significant deficiencies. You need mineral soil for … minerals, amongst other things. Magnesium, calcium, there’s a reason they’re called alkaline earth metals. And once you think of adding something to the water, there will probably be something else you haven’t thought of.

    Sorry, but that’s just not true. Hydro- and aeroponics systems use tailored mineral solutions to start out with. What deficiencies are you speaking of?

    Some organic farming enthusiasts and lobbyists tend to treat ‘ponics as a competitor and a few occasionally go a bit overboard. Factoids get into the wild that have no relationship with what actually goes on in a ‘ponics farm.

    … and yeah, a hobby when I was younger 🙂

    Well I guess if you get the basics right then it might be feasible; soil itself obviously varies in mineral content and often has deficiencies. But I’m sceptical that nutritional science is actually advanced enough for us to predict every mineral that is needed.

    In your hobby experience, I imagine you found that the water gradually becomes clogged with algae? I’ve never grown anything in water without that happening eventually. How do you plan to then dispose of the water, given that it’s still full of Miracle Gro?

    #11251
    Avatarzapkitty
    Member

    Warwick wrote: In your hobby experience, I imagine you found that the water gradually becomes clogged with algae? I’ve never grown anything in water without that happening eventually. How do you plan to then dispose of the water, given that it’s still full of Miracle Gro?

    My very green thumb?… well, let’s talk about how the pros do it instead 🙂

    One, you keep light away from the water. Period.

    Two, see my post about FF-powered desal/sewage reclamation units above. A large plantlab-type farm might well have an FF unit of its own and recycle the unused minerals for its own use as well as the water.

    … FF Fusion would be a recycler’s dream come true…

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.