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Earth Science Technology

Singapore Builds First Vertical Vegetable Farm 141

Posted by samzenpus
from the growing-on-up dept.
kkleiner writes "Short on arable land? One solution would be to plan up. Singapore, a small country that imports most of its food, has now begun selling vegetables from its first vertical farm. And even while they're more expensive the vegetables are already selling faster than they can be grown. If the farms prove sustainable – both technologically and economically – they could provide a much desired supplement to Singapore's locally grown food and serve as a model for farming in other land-challenged areas."
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Singapore Builds First Vertical Vegetable Farm

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  • Sunlight is finite (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Monday November 05, 2012 @06:23PM (#41887139)

    No matter how you align your farms, there's a finite amount of sunlight that you can't get more of. This method can increase yields, but only up to a point.

  • by kwerle (39371) <kurt@CircleW.org> on Monday November 05, 2012 @06:26PM (#41887171) Homepage Journal

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_farming [wikipedia.org]
    Specifically:
    "The Armenian tower hydroponicums are the first built examples of a vertical farm, and is documented in Sholto Douglas' seminal text "Hydroponics: The Bengal System" first published in 1951.[5] Contemporary notions of vertical farming are predated by this early technology by more than 50 years. link"

    So it's off of "THE first" by about half a century.

  • by Traiano (1044954) on Monday November 05, 2012 @07:42PM (#41887987)
    The value and challenges of hydroponic farming might not be obvious to those of you in the west (I live in Singapore).

    First, the local vegetable market is dominated by Malaysian and Chinese imports. Both of these countries have questionable laws limiting the use of pesticides and fertilizers. I have no doubt that their products are grown unsustainably. Most people wash Chinese vegetables with soap for fear of the chemicals that may remain on them.

    Those imported vegetables are incredibly cheap locally. Its possible to get all the food you need for a stir fry for a small family (with meat) at a local wet market for just a few dollars. But, as I said above, the safety of that food is dubious. Singaporeans are now rich enough (average income second only to Japan in Asia) to expect a better quality of food.

    The one vegetable that we simply cannot get in quality is the tomato. Most are flown here under ripe so they do not crush in transit. Of course the carbon footprint of those tomatoes must be massive. The higher quality ones come from Japan, but apparently were shipped frozen. Tomatoes are mushy, mealy, and never taste like a proper tomato picked in southern Europe's late summer. Sky green's web page [appsfly.com] shows they are only tackling non-flowering vegetables (greens). This is probably because they are not able to farm the bees needed for tomato pollination. I've never seen a bee in Singapore and don't know what the concerns are of raising honey bees on the island.

    Just a few thoughts from an American in Singapore...

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