Around the world innovation

Aeroponics: The Saviour of Harsh-Climate Countries?

Could countries with a harsher climate be saved by aeroponics?
The discussions around Aeroponics systems have been severely limited to urban farming and its relationship to the growing urbanization of the world. What there’s been little mention about is how harsh-climate countries can utilize this system to combat the adversarial conditions that may pose a threat to their future agricultural needs. 
Traditional agriculture has never been at the mercy of such harsh conditions and various countries such as Norway, Sweden, Russia, Iceland and Canada that have cold and harsh climates during the winter have seen imports grow during times when it’s been difficult to overcome. Keeping imports high can be detrimental to the economy and in extreme cases such as Iceland, almost all products are imported from elsewhere throughout the year. Living a sustainable way of life through aeroponics systems, not in reliance of imports, that have proved to be costly, can be a solution to this problem. What if there was a larger-scale aeroponics system based in more remote regions of the world and where such a system was implemented on a grander scale? One that had a significant impact on the national economy of a country as a whole.
The reliance on traditional forms have been repeatedly questioned in countries with a balanced climate. In terms of priorities, why is there not more emphasis placed in those countries where this is of graver concern? Understanding the mechanics of traditional forms of agriculture have gotten us this far, but pushing the boundaries of what’s possible is what drives innovative thinking. Innovative thinking is precisely what allowed for traditional agriculture to move to greenhouses, which ultimately led to our present situation and the vast array of different choices. As industrialized farming has contributed to the depletion of top soil and its nutrients, it spurred this way of thinking to new horizons.


Industrial Farming – Outdated or misunderstood?


Lakkireddy (2012) gives an interesting historical account of this evolution and presents controlled-environment agriculture as being over 1500 years old! Controlled-environment agriculture, which includes both aero and hydroponics is significantly more durable and can be continuously implemented throughout the year. During winter time is precisely how the above-mentioned countries can utilize it to its full extent. According to Mithunesh et al (2015), aeroponics-based greenhouse systems are needed due to the many drawbacks of the traditional field. Due to the many natural mechanisms that have allowed for traditional agricultural uses, we have become accustomed to it and have stopped questioning its very existence. We expect the traditional forms to be there as solidified as a rock. After all, we’ve been cultivating the Earth for millions of years. 
With the advent of urban farming, it was believed to have been a system designed for locations where the infrastructure ready to set it up was readily available. That’s difficult to comment on. Aeroponics, as a system, was never intended to take the road of urban farming – we’re only at the crossroads of this technology. When NASA conducted the aeroponics hybrid experiments in space, they discovered that farming could indeed be done in the most desolate of locations.
A similar concept called aquaponics, which is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics, has been generating steam. 
Quite recently, a team attempted to set up an aeroponics system on a budget and doing so while conducting research in the field at the same time. Powers (2016) and her team investigated the uses of aeroponics systems in cold climates. The results showed that the investment in such a system could be fully sustained in a cold climate – the only problem was, as speculated, infrastructure and transportation. Rugged terrain and distanced supply chains make this whole process a lot more complicated. 

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, an indoor farm implementing aeroponics systems was set up – it showed that space and water was saved and similarly eliminated any problems with insects. As mentioned, for colder climates, it’s to do with the capital and difficulty implementing the operation itself. As the world becomes more globalized and cities expand – will we see similar results in these regions?

In Tulsa, they managed to do it in the middle of a winter “food desert”…



We’ve seen investment in this area coming from Russia, the Nordics and North America, but what\’s interesting is also to get a scope on individuals that are setting up sustainable systems on a budget and the results are extraordinary. 
One such individual set up a pure aeroponics operation in 2015 and has had a lot of success. It functions all year round, which could be a lesson to these countries. If more capital is invested in greenhouses and aeroponics operations, we can reach some truly interesting heights. For more details about his operation, see the link below. 
To check out a success story of an aeroponics system in downtown Kyoto, check out:

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