Resource Magazine March/April 2013 : Page 5

Urban agriculture also complements recent develop-Technical issues that are essential to further develop-ments in field agriculture. In the United States, for example, ments in urban agriculture are treated throughout these con-we have begun to see increasing interest in farming, both as tributions, such as energy, carbon footprint, water use, light-traditional family farms and as food produc-ing, and advanced sensors and control sys-tion systems in urban areas. Many of these tems. In addition, regulatory and policy ini-efforts have adopted controlled environment tiatives will determine the future of urban practices to make better use of small plots agriculture in many locations, and political, for highly productive and high-quality food social, cultural, and aesthetic concerns will production. New approaches have emerged help or hinder efforts to establish urban agri-in soil-less (hydroponic) agriculture and on culture as well. traditional farmland in protected agriculture No discussion of urban agriculture is (such as high-tunnel greenhouses). Whether complete without considering vertical farm-in community gardens, on traditional farms, ing, which has come to represent urban agri-or on urban rooftops, controlled environ-culture, at least in certain media and to some ment methods extend the growing season Guest Editor Michael Munday, venture capitalists. Over the past 200 years, Science and Natural Resources and protect valuable crops from damaging various vertical farming concepts have been Producer/Editor, Tech Frontiers weather, including frost. By allowing more proposed, but none were practical. Today, Reports ; President, Hungry Planets control over the production process, these Systems and Service; and with recent technological advances in CEA methods give the grower more predictable Managing Producer/Director, and hydroponics, vertical farming may be Desert Rain Research & returns and provide the market with a more feasible. Japan is currently the leader in Communication, Tucson, Ariz., consistent product. farming within buildings, particularly in the USA; The contributions in this special issue development of “plant factories with artifi-also include some tentative answers to the question, “Can cial light,” or PFALs. However, even the strongest advocates controlled environment agriculture save the world, or even of vertical farming also encourage development of other pro-feed the world?” High-volume staple crops such as wheat, duction methods for urban agriculture. corn, and rice, which form the basis of much of the world’s The future of urban agriculture will proceed along diet, are not suitable for CEA. But CEA can make a differ-whichever paths lead to success in feeding an increasingly ence in people’s nutrition and quality of life while enhancing urbanized, densely populated world. Feeding our global pop-the remediation of resources. CEA complements, but does ulation is the primary goal, but nations with space programs not replace, field crop production by extending the growing can benefit from urban agriculture in another way as well. season and ensuring product quality. CEA therefore has a big The efficient, self-contained production systems that revital-role to play in urban agriculture and can help growers succeed ize our cities can also be the basis for permanent settlements in areas that would otherwise be food deserts, as well as in the in space. Someday we may realize the dream of contributor greenbelts surrounding cities. Extreme environments and cli-Silvio Rossignoli and “enjoy the tastes of long-forgotten food mate change are also on the minds of our contributors. plant varieties, grown in a sustainable, chemical-free environ-ment, both on Earth and on Mars.” The NASA Steckler Space Grant Lunar Greenhouse at the University of Arizona CEAC, Tucson, Ariz., USA. The Lunar Greenhouse Outreach and Teaching Module on display at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Ill., USA. Photo © DRRC, 2013. RESOURCE March/April 2013 5

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