An increasingly viable solution for climate change is Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA), implemented across the U.S., in states likes California.
The water, energy, and food security nexus is a real and present problem.
Here are some highlights from the website of The Agrarian Group:
As a species, we face the most complex and deadly problems we have ever encountered. Erratic weather events caused by climate change destroy crop yields each year. Pesticides have ruined our soil and water scarcity has become a national security issue. 70% of food cost is linked to fossil fuels, and prices are only expected to rise. The average food item travels 1500 miles to reach it's destination. However, despite everything we do, 40% of all food in the United States is thrown away post-harvest.
The Agrarian Group was started as an answer to a question - How will we feed the projected 9.1 Billion people that will reside on earth in 2050? To achieve this, we need to increase our already stressed agricultural production by 70%. How do we grow better?
Agtech solutions can help solve the challenges we face.
Here is an example of Agtech Solutions in California:
Imagine a farming method so efficient that you could grow a variety of leafy greens in half the time it traditionally takes - without any pesticides, herbicides or fungicides - and where the sun has no role.
It's all done indoors, and it's a growing trend known as controlled environment agriculture (CEA). The biggest player in the space is AeroFarms, a Newark, New Jersey-based operation that was among the businesses that participated at the Feb. 25 North Coast Specialty Food & Beverage Conference.
“We track everything that happens to the plants, from its genetics all the way to harvest. And by measuring along the way, we can use that data to learn more about what makes plants grow,” said AeroFarms Chief Financial Officer Guy Blanchard. “The ability to do this is transformative, it's brand new, if you think of the difference with field farming, where you can't control the temperature and you can't control the weather. You're really reacting and trying to respond to the things that Mother Nature is throwing at you.”
In addition to AeroFarms, which is privately held, there are a variety of CEA players in the marketplace, including Bright Farms, Little Leaf Farms, Bowery Farms, Revol Greens and Plenty, which is based in South San Francisco. The majority of these businesses are headquartered in the Midwest and further east, where bad weather makes it impossible to grow the greens outdoors.
There are a variety of growing methods within the CEA category, the two most common being hydroponics and aeroponics. With hydroponics, plants are grown with mineral nutrients in a water base rather than in soil. Aeroponics, which is AeroFarms' method, also uses no soil, instead planting seeds in fabric and misting them with mineral nutrients.
AeroFarms grows 800 varieties of edible greens, such as lettuce, arugula and spinach. The plants require 95% less water than on farms, and are completely grown in 12 to 14 days, rather than 30 to 45 days in the field. The company's retail brand, Dream Greens, is sold in grocery stores in New Jersey and New York.