The Soya Project
Utilise VF/CEA to minimise the amound of space taken up by the growing of soy plants
Allow land previously allocated to soy growing, to be repurposed - either to rewilding or other sustainable/resilient land management methods
Ecosystem services from rewilded and managed land, such as water management, flood control, carbon sequestration
Reduction of use of pesticides, fungicides and fertilisers, thus, reducing run-off into waterway, reducing damage caused and restoration of soils
Reduction of water use for growing
Firstly of course, VF uses far less space than conventional agriculture. By stacking crops vertically, by reducing losses (and potentially waste) and by increasing the number of crops per year, it is possible to greatly increase the yield of a crop in a given horizontal footprint. It’s not at all unreasonable to expect to grow in 1 acre of Vertical Farming, what can be grown in 20 acres of conventional agriculture. Much higher yields than this baseline may in fact be possible.
Currently we have something like 1.125 million km2 under production of Soy - an area roughly equivalent to the land area of Spain and France put together. Due to increasing demand, both for animal feed and human consumption, this land under production is expected to increase to around 2.14 million km2 by 2050 - roughly equivalent to the total land area of Spain, France, Germany, Poland, UK and the Netherlands put together! We just don’t have that kind of space, especially when considering that it is not only soy production that will grow this way in the coming years. So the ability to dramatically reduce our physical growing footprint is going to be very important indeed.
VF/CEA allows us to greatly reduce the use of fertilisers, and to nearly if not completely eliminate the use of pesticides and fertilisers. This is because, in an entirely controlled environment, plants are not at risk from adverse weather, from pathogens, or from insects. Moreover, CEA gives the plants exactly what they need, exactly when they need it. By delivering required nutrients via a soil-less growing system, the amount of fertiliser required for the plants is drastically reduced. What’s more, since the water is circulated, collected and re-circulated around a closed loop system, the amount of nutrient input required is also reduced again, since anything that the plants didn’t take up one time, they will surely take the next!
This closed-loop circular system also means that water use is dramatically reduced. Hydroponic NFT systems, where a thin layer of water delivers the water direct to the plant roots, has been shown to reduce water use by up to 70%, compared to conventional agriculture. Aeroponics, a related technique whereby the water is misted onto the roots, can achieve 70% greater water efficiency than even hydroponics. In the final analysis, these methods have been shown to reduce water use, compared to conventional agriculture, by up to 90%!
Last but not least, we also protect social purposes. Particularly in South America, many people make a living from environmentally friendly and responsible usage of the biosphere. This life is increasingly threatened by large industrial companies that turn this biosphere into land for monocultures, removing the base of living for those people and forcing them to move to metropolises, which intensifies urbanisation even more. Those who stay are harmed by polluted water, air and biomass.