How To Get What We Need Sustainably
We have a problem with protein. The world's population has massively grown in recent decades, and looks set to continue to do so for the next few decades at least. At the same time millions of people have, thankfully been lifted out of poverty. They and many millions more are moving towards a level similar to that of many western developed countries. As they do, they demand more protein. If we multiply the rising number of people by their increased consumption, we can see that our present methods of protein supply are unsustainable.
Put simply, we need more protein for people, and we need less of it to come from large-animal meat.
Soy is of course a great source of protein for humans. But it is also a great source for animals - enough so that some 70-80% of soy meal globally is used as animal feed. Interestingly though, we humans consume the vast majority of soy oil. So reducing our meat consumption might not be enough to reduce land use and land use change for soy growing.
This presents an opportunity for vertically farmed soy, since we can grow it in a smaller land footprint (along with all the other resource use reductions), and still get what we need.
Furthermore, since animal farming can take up huge amounts of land in various parts of the world, and can itself lead to enormous deforestation, it makes good sense for us to reduce our meat intake. Once again this is a great opportunity for vertically farming soy.
We might also be very wise to look at the use of controlled environment agriculture (vertical or otherwise) in the development of new varieties. Speed breeding for example, could be used to develop new varieties which have more bean and less leafy plant.
Much research is needed in this area, for soy and for a whole variety of other crops which might help address this issue. If you think you can help with that, drop
us a line!
But that's not enough...
Just growing soy in VF, though a brilliant idea, is not going to be enough to do the job - there's a whole bunch of other stuff we're going to have to do as well! See below for some examples of that
A rapidly growing population and the lifting of millions out of poverty in the developing world, means a fast growing future demand for protein. We know that this cannot be addressed through meat alone, due to the harms caused by factory farming. Alternative proteins offer, well, an alternative!
High-Tech Ecosystem Farming (HTEF) is the idea and practice of linking together different controlled environment modules, into an ecosystem. The goal is to
facilitate the flow of resource and waste streams between modules, to maximise efficiency, sustainability and systemic resilience
The circular economy is about abandoning the previously established take-make-waste system and replacing it with systems that reuse & recycle resources. Energy use is a major component of both sustainability and cost for CEA, so the circular model is the way we need to go!