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Barnstorming insight in to future farming

A barnstorming – literally and metaphorically – article on the future of farming appeared in The Times on Saturday, written by Science Editor Tom Whipple.

It’s available to digital subscribers at www.thetimes.co.uk/article/welcome-to-the-future-of-farming-c6lshbhsb

For non-subscribers, here’s a precis…..

The essay certainly delivers food for thought. It addresses the rise of the vertical farm, recreating precise climates for respective crops. “By stacking crops on top of each other and precisely controlling the environment we will, proponents argue, at a stroke solve problems ranging from climate change to water shortage to loss of biodiversity.”

On the space taken today by a single field, the vertical field will grow 30 times the produce.

The downside is “it takes a lot of energy to replace the sun”.

The article doesn’t speculate what this means for existing farmers and farming in general.

But, given that net-zero plans are emerging as a global response to climate change, including a reduction in meat consumption of 50%, it would seem the writing is on the wall for traditional agricultural methods in the long-term.

So, I couldn’t help thinking the future of farming will look something like this.

Today’s land-based farms will become the vertical farms of tomorrow; generating renewable energy and CO2 through the process of anaerobic digestion, to fuel and feed enclosed greenhouses. Something that is already happening in Norway at the wonderfully named Magic Factory.

It also suggests the notion of vegan electricity – as first touted by Ecotricity – could be closer to becoming reality than initially thought. Also, vertical farming would seem to present a very real opportunity for AD to deliver on its potential to be a biorefinery – in the production of fertiliser, platform chemicals, biodegradable plastics and more and creating edible protein.

Exciting times.

Ivar Sørby, Assistant CEO of Greve Biogass, will be speaking on the making of the Magic Factory at the UK AD and World Biogas Expo and World Biogas Summit, at the Birmingham NEC on July 3rd and 4th, where there will also be a dedicated focus on AD’s role in the future of agriculture in the Future Farming theatre.

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