Growing soy in CEA and
Vertical Farming (VF)
The Potential Of Vertically Farming Soy
Vertical farming has rapidly advanced in recent years. It offers a way to grow food that uses vastly less water, no pesticides, minimal waste and huge yields per growing area. It is also entirely independent of the weather and can be sited pretty much anywhere. As a result, vertical farming has a real claim to aid both the sustainability and the resilience of our food systems.
However, due to a combination of the high costs of set up and operation, and the significant energy use, it has thus far been limited to mostly leafy greens and some soft fruits. These challenges are equally as real as the potential gains. So it is often claimed that vertical farming can only play a small role in food systems.
However, if we were to really want to make an impact of the big food system issues - land use & change, biodiversity & conservation, resource use - we have to look to the big staple commodity crops. Of those, the one that we think is most likely to work in CEA and vertical farming is soy. It's not a massive plant, it's mostly leafy and green, that sort of thing. It's also grown in simply staggering quantities and the harms caused by that are well established.
So if we could grow soy in vertical farms, we could drastically reduce the land & resource use impact of growing soy! We could even help alleviate the competition between land-sparing (e.g. agroforestry) and land-sharing (e.g. rewilding)
The thing is, those challenges of cost and energy use aren't going to go away. In fact for a low-margin, low-profit crop like soy, they are even more of an issue. But, conversely, if we can solve these vertical farming & CEA challenges for soy, we can solve them for anything!
This project exists to advocate, collaborate and cooperate to facilitate the answering of those questions and overcoming of those challenges! If you can help with that, let us know!
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!