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Vertical Farming - Can It Feed the Growing Population? - 18 June 2013

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Tuesday 18th June 2013.
Sarah Mikesell - TheCropSite Senior Editor

Sarah Mikesell
Senior Editor


Vertical Farming - Can It Feed the Growing Population?

Greetings from England - I'm back at our home office in Sheffield this week. 

I want to share a really interesting video that I saw on PBS, which is our US Public Broadcasting Service. The topic is vertical farming. Before you say, "that’s a bunch of rubbish (British for garbage), vertical farming will never feed the world." I encourage you to take a look – it’s really fascinating what they are doing.

Singapore has one of the highest population densities in the world. About 5 million people live on the wealthy island city. Singapore is home to one of the first commercial vertical farming operations - Sky Greens – which is nearly four stories high and designed to consume minimal energy. With only 250 acres of farmed fields available, Singapore grows just 7 per cent of its own fresh fruits and vegetables.

At Sky Greens, the plants are watered with a gravity-fed system using an ancient water wheel technology. The closed loop hydraulic system uses about the same amount of electricity as a 60 Watt light bulb, which costs about $3/month – yes, three US dollars month!

A Columbia University economist said that we are going to reach a “tipping point when traditional agriculture can no longer produce enough food” for our growing population. By 2050, he expects 80 per cent of the global population to be living in cities which will exacerbate the problem. He sees vertical farming as one solution.

Sky Greens say they are 10 times more productive per square foot than traditional farming and use less water, inputs and land. In Singapore, 90 percent of their food is imported from countries like China and Malaysia or as far away as Holland and the US.

As for my 2 cents, I think it's going to take lots of innovative ways to feed our expected population of 9+ billion by 2050. As farmers, we need to consider new ideas and views. To view the full video story, click here

Also in news… according to the HGCA, the Russian barley harvest has begun in southern regions 10 days ahead of normal, and early yields look good at 5.28t/ha, which is significantly higher than 2.98t/ha harvested in drought stricken 2012.

SovEcon have suggested the Russian government may step in earlier than usual to purchase wheat for government stockpiles, which have been depleted due to intervention selling into the interior.

USDA’s Crop Progress report shows soybean planting jumped 14 per cent to 85 per cent planted. This is well below year-ago levels of 98 per cent, but just under the five-year average of 91 per cent. Soybean emergence also saw a boost to 66 per cent from 48 per cent last week.

 Have a jolly good week!

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Global Crop Industry News

   United Kingdom

Biofuels Industry: 'Address Real Causes of Hunger'
Permission Granted for GM Field Trial
Lord De Mauley to Speak at Biogas Event
Harvest Snapshot Highlights Need to Protect British Production
CEREALS: Uncertainty Surrounds UK 2013 Rapeseed Crop
Worrying Emergence of Insecticide Resistance in Crop Pests
Drive for Modulation Masks Government Failure for a Fair Deal


Alberta Farmers Hope Crops Avoid Hail Damage This Year
Growing Forward 2 Paves Way for Risk Management Initiatives

   United States

CME: Corn Futures Closed Higher Monday
Anticipating USDA June Stocks and Acreage Reports
Forage Day to Cover Bioenergy Crop Uses
Purple and Yellow Plants Showing Up in Early Corn Crops
Wyckoff's Weekly Update: Mixed Tone Across Markets
Grains: Where are the Stops? Monday, June 17
CME: Corn Futures Closed Higher Friday
Is Corn Still King?
Grains: Where are the Stops? Friday, June 14
NFU Applauds Speaker Boehner's Farm Bill Support
Top Farmer Crop Workshop Helps Farmers Review Operations
Jim Wyckoff's Thursday Closing Grains: Soybeans Close Lower
CME: Corn Futures Closed Down Wednesday
Corn, Wheat Futures See Modestly Bearish Reactions to USDA Report
Weekly Roberts Market Report
NFU and JA Zenchu Statement on TPP Negotiations
Grains: Where are the Stops? Thursday, June 13
How Do We Anticipate the Size of US Corn Production?
Wyckoff's Wednesday Closing Grains: Corn, Wheat Reflect Bearish USDA Report
Grains: Where are the Stops? Wednesday 12 June
CME: Corn Futures Closed Up Tuesday
NFU Congratulates Senate on Passage of Farm Bill
University Studies New Method for Biofuels
Pioneer Field360 Select Software Helps Growers Improve Productivity


Jim Wyckoff's Morning Report: Markets Lower in Overnight Trading
FAO Forecasts More Balanced Food Markets Ahead
Jim Wyckoff's Morning Report: Markets Firmer Overnight
Jim Wyckoff's Morning Report: Nikkei Stock Drops
Ecuador Trade Team Visit Focuses on US Wheat Industry
DuPont Pioneer: Tips for Early Season Weed Control
Jim Wyckoff's Morning Report: European Financial Markets Calmer
Rice Research Investment Delivers Sixfold Return

   European Union

Europe Mops Up After Floods


Agri-food Prices Rise Marginally
China to Tighten Punishment for Work Safety Crimes


China Approves GM Brazilian Soybeans
Increase in Volume of Sugar Being Traded
Recovery of Grain Prices Enhanced


Biggest Australian Rice Crop in a Decade
Promising Outlook for Australia's Winter Crops


Farmers Call For Assessment of Europe's Crop Losses

   New Zealand

Long-term Toxicology Study on Pigs Fed a Mixed GM Diet


China Grants Approval to GM Corn and Soybean Varieties


Council Fostering Grain Trade in Colombia


Hungary Investigated over GM Corn Seeds


Decline in Chile's Agriculture Sector

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