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  • This video is sponsored by CuriosityStream,  

  • which now comes with Nebula for free when you  sign up using the link in the description.

  • In the outskirts of Newark, New Jerseytucked between a packaging manufacturer  

  • and an aquatics center lies a farm. Except  if you're driving down the nearby highway  

  • you probably wouldn't be able to tell  that this particular farm is churning out  

  • thousands of pounds of greens each year. In  fact, all you'll see is a bunch of buildings,  

  • because this is a vertical farming operation  called AeroFarms which grows all their food  

  • in a warehouse. Like the owners of AeroFarmstech enthusiasts across the world have embraced  

  • the dream of vertical farming, exclaiming that  their operations are the answer to feeding a  

  • growing global population, combating climate  change, and eradicating food deserts. So,  

  • today we're going to look under the hood of these  vertical farms in order to answer three questions.  

  • Do they work? Are they sustainable? And are they  a viable alternative to growing food outdoors?

  • How Does Vertical Farming Work

  • The many-shelved farming operation that  is AeroFarms is just one of many companies  

  • that uses vertical space to grow vegetablesWhat sets AeroFarms apart, however, is that  

  • it grows in a fine mist filled with nutrients  instead of a typical growing environment like  

  • rockwool and nutrient-rich water. But AeroFarms  is an outlier in the vertical farming space. The  

  • typical vertical farm looks a lot more like  that at Bowery, a company that uses a more  

  • traditional hydroponics system to grow their  produce. Essentially, Bowery grows greens and  

  • other veggies in a nutrient-rich tray of waterwhich is consistently recycled in a closed-loop  

  • system. This system is then replicated  en masse and expanded not horizontally,  

  • but vertically to maximize space. But because all  these plants are stacked on top of each other,  

  • access to light becomes a big obstacle, which  means that each shelf is equipped with LED lights  

  • to act as artificial sunlight. Some operations  like Plenty go even further by shining only  

  • the beneficial colors in the light spectrum  for growth. While some of these large-scale  

  • vertical farms can quickly become laden with  advanced technologies like robotic arms and AI  

  • monitoring systems, at their most basic, vertical  farms use a combination of artificial sunlight  

  • and vertical space to maximize the amount of yield  per acre. These food factories seem promising,  

  • but they also seem like a lot of workSo why are people so excited about them?

  • The Benefits of Vertical Farming The typical American farm is 444 acres,  

  • and, if you're a lettuce farmer, on average you  can pull around 36200 lbs per acre from your field  

  • every year. Vertical farming, however, boasts much  higher yields per square foot, with some companies  

  • like San Francisco-based Plenty claiming they can  produce 400x times the yield of a conventional  

  • farm. This is where the benefits of a vertical  farm begin, but it's certainly not where they end.  

  • Vertical farming proponents point to disease and  pest prevention, water-saving, season extension  

  • and exacting control as some of the many  benefits of growing vertically. In a sealed,  

  • indoor environment disease and pests are raremeaning that pesticide and herbicide use is at  

  • its minimum. Hydro or aquaponics systems which  are common in vertical farming, recycle water  

  • in a closed loop system and can conserve up 95% of  the water used. While artificial lights means that  

  • plants can grow regardless of the season and  location. You could theoretically grow plants  

  • right next to a supermarket. And this farming  method can do all this without depleting the  

  • soil. All this sounds amazing. Who wouldn't want  a pesticide-free operation that uses less water,  

  • less land, and is closer to urban centersWell, unfortunately, there's a cost.

  • The Problem with Vertical Farming 

  • The vertical farming space seems to be inundated  with Silicon Valley tech investors dead set  

  • on finding a solution for growing food that will  catapult us into an era of sustainably grown  

  • produce. Their warehouses are full of AI driven  robots, software that monitors plant growth,  

  • and spaceship-like white columns that all seem  right out of a sci-fi movie. All these futuristic  

  • devices couldn't possibly have a downside, rightWrong. The technology-ridden vertical farm comes  

  • at a high cost, both in terms of money and  the environment. In order to start-up just  

  • one of these food factories, costs could be  as high as $39 million, which is prohibitively  

  • expensive even for an already costly industrywhich might require as much as $5 million just  

  • to start a grain farming operation in IowaEven vertical farming in shipping containers,  

  • which have a small startup cost compared to  big warehouse farms like AeroFarms or Plenty,  

  • is expensive. Sometimes this is to the tune  of 10 times the cost to grow produce than a  

  • regular dirt farm. In part, this has to do with  the expense of retrofitting a shipping container,  

  • but it can also be tied back to the  energy required for lights, heating,  

  • ventilation, and cooling. According  to research conducted by Civil Eats,  

  • a 30,000 sq ft New York City vertical farm might  pay $216,000 annually just for lighting and power,  

  • and another $120,000 for air conditioning systemsThese costs can differ drastically depending on  

  • the location of these vertical farms but on the  whole the costs of most vertical farms lead to  

  • higher prices on the consumer side. Agriculture  consultant Peter Tasgal estimates that lettuce  

  • from vertical farms costs roughly 5 times more  per pound than when it's conventionally grown.

  • Alongside their high monetary cost, these systems  also generate a larger carbon footprint than  

  • field farmed produce. A number of papers have  studied the lifecycle impact of a kilogram of  

  • lettuce in a vertical farm and, depending on  the context, they found that vertical farms can  

  • emit anywhere from .156 to 4 kilograms of carbon  dioxide equivalent for every kilogram of lettuce  

  • grown. While one Washington Post reporter writes  that in places with heavy fossil fuel use,  

  • vertical farms could generate as much as 7 to 20  times more greenhouse gases than outdoor farms.  

  • Yes, vertical farms do cut down on the need for  transportation, but Paul West, lead scientist at  

  • the Global Landscapes Initiative at the University  of Minnesota, asserts that 80% of a farm's carbon  

  • emissions are created on the farm, so food miles  are negligible. I also think the key thing to keep  

  • in mind here is that vertical farms can really  only grow a small range of veggies, like lettuce  

  • greens and kale, efficiently and profitablyAnd when grown outdoors these crops already tend  

  • to have low emissions footprints. Essentiallyvertical farming is tinkering at the edges when  

  • it comes to agriculture's carbon footprint. If  we truly want to drastically reduce agricultural  

  • emissions we should instead use our resources to  address the biggest emitter in the industry: meat.

  • Is Vertical Farming a Viable Solution  to Food Scarcity and Climate Change

  • Food production facilities like AeroFarms  easily cling to the imaginative areas of  

  • our brains. They're big, futuristic, shinynew, and exciting. But vertical farms are not  

  • a sustainable silver-bullet solution to solving  world hunger. While there certainly is use for  

  • them in some contexts, like in the cold seasonsor in water-deprived areas like California  

  • or cities like Abu Dhabi, they provide a different  service than small and large traditional farms.  

  • And in terms of feeding the world, our problem  is not a lack of food, it's a lack of appropriate  

  • infrastructure to distribute the food we have to  those in need. For instance, globally we waste  

  • of the food we produce. So, investing hundreds  of millions of dollars into vertical farms feels  

  • similar to trying to colonize Mars to escapechanging climate. It's a prohibitively expensive  

  • and technology ridden solution to a problem that  has other, more just, and less expensive answers.  

  • There are many appropriate technologies and  methods on conventional farms that have been  

  • proven to increase yields on extremely small  plots, all without AI, white columns, or smart  

  • cameras. And if we genuinely want to address  climate change through agriculture our first step  

  • should not be to fiddle with greens, it should be  to address the huge impact that beef has on our  

  • land, water, and greenhouse gases. Techno-fixes  like vertical farming are alluring, and when  

  • used in appropriate contexts, beneficial, but  looking ahead towards 2030 and onwards to 2050,  

  • we'll need a hell of a lot more than technology to  fix the societal problem that is climate change.

  • After being on YouTube for over four  years, I still find it really hard to  

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  • politically charged videos, like the ones I made  about the Green New Deal and Ecofeminism, and they  

  • end up doing poorly or even get demonetized. Which  is why a bunch of creator friends and I teamed  

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  • algorithm. It's called Nebula and we're thrilled  to be partnering with Curiosity Stream. Nebula  

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  • recently been watching Evan from Polymatter's  Nebula original series called A Hill To Die On,  

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  • Nebula. If you liked this video, then definitely  check out the episode of Cities of Tomorrow  

  • all about Vertical Farms. It goes way more in  depth about their possibilities and downfalls.

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Does Vertical Farming actually work?

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    joey joey に公開 2021 年 06 月 12 日
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