LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

For the discussion of the sciences. Physics problems, chemistry equations, biology weirdness, it all goes here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:38 pm UTC

I find this extremely exciting.

Farm uses 1% the water used for traditional farming, is 100-fold more productive per square meter (vertical stacking!) and produces higher quality veggies.

You can all guess where I want to see this taken.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:54 pm UTC

Yeah, this has really taken off in the last years. If you look at SEO terms of LED webshops (at least in the Netherlands), they're full terms like 'grow light ' 'home growing' 'photosynthesis' 'growing weed' 'weed' 'wiet' 'weed' 'weed', etc.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 10, 2014 5:19 pm UTC

The ramifications for this are enormous, considering the guy wants to expand. Extraordinarily less water, pesticide, and fertilizer consumption.

It's basically a means to convert electricity into food, while simultaneously freeing up bananas amounts of farmland.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
drachefly
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 3:25 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby drachefly » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:01 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The ramifications for this are enormous, considering the guy wants to expand. Extraordinarily less water, pesticide, and fertilizer consumption.

It's basically a means to convert electricity into food, while simultaneously freeing up bananas amounts of farmland.


Bananas amounts of farmland? Okay, now I'm thinking of Bloons TD 5, when you upgrade your farm from a Banana Republic[3,0] (500 bananas per round) to Banana Research Facility[4,2] (3000 bananas per round). That's about the same yield ratio, discounting stacking!

More seriously, now come the big questions:

1) How much industrial infrastructure does this require to build and maintain?
1a) How bad is a power interruption?
2) Given said industrial infrastructure, how expensive is it to build and maintain?
3) How well does it hold up for soil-depleting crops?

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:24 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I find this extremely exciting.

Farm uses 1% the water used for traditional farming, is 100-fold more productive per square meter (vertical stacking!) and produces higher quality veggies.

You can all guess where I want to see this taken.


I screwed around with this and some tomatos a few years back. Worked quite well, albeit not worth using batteries for. So, there's some upfront cost for the setup, but kinda cool long term.

It allows for a much more controlled environment, so you can avoid stuff like disease, often, and growing cycles.

Power interruptions are not the worst of things. Plants have some tolerance for low light conditions...a coupla cloudy days isn't gonna cause plants to die off. Long enough, sure, they'll all die, but mostly, it would be something you insure for(like how we currently insure for flooding), not invest in high performance stuff for.

Soil gets depleted sure, but you can rotate soil. Or crops. Whichever. Probably easier to just fertilize, though. That's gonna scale up best.

Really, what needs to happen is easy home-kits for people to grow stuff at home, regardless of season, with little effort. That reduces transportation, etc, and allows for extremely fresh produce. Some definite advantages. Would probably make a promising Kickstarter idea.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:26 pm UTC

It is a well known fact that bananas are the fuel for revolutions.

drachefly wrote:1) How much industrial infrastructure does this require to build and maintain?
1a) How bad is a power interruption?
2) Given said industrial infrastructure, how expensive is it to build and maintain?
3) How well does it hold up for soil-depleting crops?

These are all super good questions that I don't have concrete answers for, but think we should talk about because I'm excited about this and want people who know more to chime in even if it's to disagree with me.

1 ) I'm under the impression that the infrastructure requirements are non-zero, but certainly not enormous. You need a small amount of water, and a fairly high amount of electricity. There's vastly reduced fertilizer and pesticide and chemical waste than a standard farm puts out, so, all together, it is probably less polluting than even a large office building. As an estimate?

My guess is power interruptions are bad. Not 'lose whole crop' bad, but bad. Water flow is important for hydroponics, and the light control is what's forcing these plants to maximize growth and minimize flowering or such. I wager interruptions of more than a day could seriously set back the installation. I wouldn't be surprised if a cessation of water pumping could actually cause pretty bad damage to the setup, but I'm not sure about that.

2 ) Probably not too bad an initial investment, since the most expensive things are lights and the hardware to run them and the pumps, and given that the first crop return is in a month, you probably start recouping that investment quickly.

3 ) My guess is exceedingly well, since you can adjust your supplement according to the crop. Got something that depletes soil nutrients? You can grow it without having to let cropland go idle for a season.

The company has their hands in all manner of programs at all manner of scales, from home consumer stations the size of a washing machine, to school lab get ups the size of a car for classrooms, to mall installations for local food delivery to extreme weather stations for experimenting with other issues that they may see.

@Tyn: Can you link, perhaps, the set up you invested in?
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:50 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:It is a well known fact that bananas are the fuel for revolutions.

drachefly wrote:1) How much industrial infrastructure does this require to build and maintain?
1a) How bad is a power interruption?
2) Given said industrial infrastructure, how expensive is it to build and maintain?
3) How well does it hold up for soil-depleting crops?

These are all super good questions that I don't have concrete answers for, but think we should talk about because I'm excited about this and want people who know more to chime in even if it's to disagree with me.

1 ) I'm under the impression that the infrastructure requirements are non-zero, but certainly not enormous. You need a small amount of water, and a fairly high amount of electricity. There's vastly reduced fertilizer and pesticide and chemical waste than a standard farm puts out, so, all together, it is probably less polluting than even a large office building. As an estimate?


The big obstacle here is that farming, currently, is really, really cheap. Ongoing expenses for such a system are lower, but construction of the facility is a very large one time cost. Hydroponics are currently generally a lot more expensive than traditional farming, and thus only make sense where space is in short supply.

One issue is that most seeding, etc is done automatically, and some things in non traditional systems take poorly to automation. That tends to kill efficiencies.

My guess is power interruptions are bad. Not 'lose whole crop' bad, but bad. Water flow is important for hydroponics, and the light control is what's forcing these plants to maximize growth and minimize flowering or such. I wager interruptions of more than a day could seriously set back the installation. I wouldn't be surprised if a cessation of water pumping could actually cause pretty bad damage to the setup, but I'm not sure about that.


Actually, water's not a huge deal...you can structure your system such that gravity mostly handles distribution. For my small, low tech experiments, I used my usual methd of a 20 oz soda bottle filled with water, them slammed into the dirt upside down. Pretty much automatic watering for days. A larger, more elegant version of this is easy to envision.

2 ) Probably not too bad an initial investment, since the most expensive things are lights and the hardware to run them and the pumps, and given that the first crop return is in a month, you probably start recouping that investment quickly.


The big issue is handling all the work efficiently. There is a lot of optimization to be done yet. The focus on hydroponics is probably unnecessary/problematic. Use of soil isn't inherently bad. Dirt is common. What you care about is planting and harvesting with minimal expenditure. Most crops are not worth a ton on a per-plant basis. If it needs a ton of human handling, you quickly burn through any gains. At least...for a commercial venture. At home, meh. Picking a couple veggies yourself is not a big deal.

@Tyn: Can you link, perhaps, the set up you invested in?


I cannibalized the parts for other things, but if memory serves, I had about a 5:1 ratio of red to blue LEDs, which were inelegantly slapped into a breadboard, which was duct taped to the wall. I played around with moving it near windows, but the tomato plants grew towards the LEDs, not the windows, so I deemed them comparatively unimportant. I did an artifical, long, day/night cycle which was purely a guess to try to simulate summertime conditions. It'd probably be smarter to actually calculate out optimal cycles for yields if you were doing so on a large scale.

There's really not a ton to handling a pot of dirt, a plant, and light/water. It's really just a matter for optimizing and making the whole package somewhat more elegant. If there's essentially no maint, and a very simple "setup" of plug in, pour in water, well...that takes much of the hassle factor out of home gardening.

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Diadem » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:38 pm UTC

It is already commercially viable for greenhouses to switch on lights from sundown to sunup. At least I assume it is, because that is what greenhouses currently do, and I assume greenhouse owners do this because it makes them money, and not because they fear the dark.

Taking out the sun entirely and replacing it by artificial lighting at most doubles your lighting costs, compared to today's situation. I don't know how big a part of the total cost lighting is, but my guess is it is only a small part of the price you end up paying at the supermarket. Combine this with needing much less land and water, and being able to very precisely control conditions for better quality crop, and I can see this technology becoming viable fast.

I wonder if this technology leads to massive scale factory farms that produce food for hundreds of thousands of people, or to small very local farms that produce crops for just 1 or 2 neighborhoods. Perhaps both.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:38 pm UTC

Depends on how harvesting/planting scales up. If it doesn't(currently mostly the case), then factory farms in such a model scale poorly.

However, food that is produced in your basement has a higher value to you than food produced halfway round the country, so...a small scale implementation may still be viable.

The environment thing isn't such a big effect, though. Often fields are big enough to effectively form a mono-culture, and there really aren't a great deal of problems due to other stuff. Plus, we've genetically engineered resistance to some problematic diseases.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:31 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Taking out the sun entirely and replacing it by artificial lighting at most doubles your lighting costs, compared to today's situation.


Thing is, those night lights do not provide the same illumination as the sun, by far. They are a little boost, and sometimes a trick to make plants act as if it's summer. If you want to replace sunlight, you face far more than a doubled bill. I suspect that the people in the OP focus on lettuce for a reason. It's a plant with a low weight per dollar value, and a low energy content as well. It requires very little light to grow.

This is a list of some LED agricultural case projects of Philips Lighting.
http://www.lighting.philips.nl/application_areas/horticultural/projects.wpd
In the section "Propagation", all projects are multi-layer, with only artificial light. That's an area where it makes lots of sense: control over the environment is critical in this phase, the plants are not yet absorbing large amounts of energy from the light, and the plants are still small so they can be stacked many times. Purely LED-based plant propagation might become the standard pretty soon.

But in the other sections, the LEDs are an addition to sunlight, or even an addition to gas-discharge lights and sunlight. They're used to bring light to the darker spots within the foliage, to manipulate the characteristics of the plant, etc.

In three production cases, they do have multi-layer setups with only artificial light. Two of those are lettuce growers, similar to the OP. The third one is a tulip grower, where a significant chunk of the required energy is put into the bulb in the previous season (presumably, in daylight).


@ Izawwlgood, if you like the project in the OP, you might see some interesting stuff behind that link as well. I couldn't find an English version, but you migth get by on pictures and Google Translate

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 14, 2014 3:23 pm UTC

The vertical farming is effectively replacing sunlight, but I think you need to view the whole enterprises costs together; the savings in water is very dramatic, and LEDs are extremely efficient. To that end, the lighting is probably the highest cost in terms of energy consumption, but my impression was that overall the enterprise is vastly cheaper than anything else.

That link is neat Zamfir, I'm glad to see so much effort being put into this sort of technology around the world. I know that land isn't really a limitation in most places, but verticality seems a pretty winning solution here, especially when growing low plants.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:27 pm UTC

You get any evidence for that "vastly cheaper"? As far as I know, these kinds of highly-controlled growing setups are only used for the most valuable crops, and then mostly for the niche markets where people are willing to pay extra for spotless products. Decorative plants, decorative vegetables (like lettuce for salads). And tender fruits, where the benefit is a reduced travel distance to the consumer.

Keep in mind, the quoted "savings" are a somewhat misleading comparison. Most of the claimed benefits come from hydroponic production vs outdoor production, but these product markets are already served by hydroponic production or similar techniques. Switching to multi-layered production won't save water or nutrients, compared to the current way of working. Basically, they're saying that an econobox with LED headlights is more fuel efficient than a semitruck. It's true, but the LED lights have little to do with it :)

The importance of energy costs depend on the product. For lettuce, not so much. At the far end, you have bulk products like corn and grain, or potatoes. For those products, the end product contains more energy per euro than electricity itself. You would still lose significant money if you had a zero-cost, 100% efficent process to turn electricity into bulk food. Or to put it another way: corn fields are efficient, very cheap solar energy harvesters.

SO you expect such technologies to enter fields for low-energy, small, valuable growth. And products that are produced on very, very valuable land, for example because they need to be close to the buyer. And as you can see in the link, propagators really like the stacked approach.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:43 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The vertical farming is effectively replacing sunlight, but I think you need to view the whole enterprises costs together; the savings in water is very dramatic, and LEDs are extremely efficient. To that end, the lighting is probably the highest cost in terms of energy consumption, but my impression was that overall the enterprise is vastly cheaper than anything else.


I assure you, it is not vastly cheaper currently.

Sunlight is not costly. LEDs are efficient compared to other forms of artificial lighting, yes, but you're not talking about displacing other forms of artificial lighting, you're talking about using it instead of natural lighting. This represents an additional cost. As does the building itself.

Savings in water...meh. Water is not a huge cost everywhere. In some places, sure, this is awesome. In some places, literally nobody cares. Even when water is paid for, it is typically at a fairly low rate for farming.

Verticality itself is a space saving measure. That's it. In rural areas, that's just not important...especially for outdoor crops. There are other reasons to use lighting, etc, but this is definitely not vastly cheaper outside of niche uses. That's why I'm focused on things like basement gardening. It's a niche use, sure...but lots of folks live in cities, could use more veggies, and have a spare corner. Potentially useful. A lot of stuff, though, this just doesn't represent a cost advantage. It if did, it would already be in use. Farming is extremely efficient in developed countries.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:29 pm UTC

This farm is posting profits vastly greater than profits posted by conventional farms, which tells you that it's more effective. There's also savings in fertilization and pesticides. I have no idea how the equipment costs compare; maintaining and running a handful of tractors and trucks is maybe similar to the cost of maintaining these shelves and pumps and lights?
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 14, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

I don't see a mention of profits in the article?

For the cost of fertilizer etc: keep in mind that the cheapest bulk foods use those in large quantities. Fertilizer is so cheap that there are legal limits on how much you are allowed to run off in your drainage water.
Last edited by Zamfir on Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:09 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:08 pm UTC

I'm getting my wires crossed on articles; the farm produces 10,000 heads of lettuce per day, and is a 25,000 sq ft facility, which is .57 acres. They claim that it is 100 times more productive than conventional lettuce farms, which doesn't seem to hold up;

This claims that reasonable/good yields are on the order of 800-1000 crates per acre per 2-3 days, a crate being 24-36 heads of leafy lettuce per crate. So that's ~9,000 heads of lettuce per day day per acre, while this guy is putting out 17,540 heads of lettuce per day per acre.

He's using 1% the water, which translates to less pesticides and fertilizers. I would be interested in seeing his electrical bill and profit reports. As mentioned, the company is expanding all over Japan, so this is evidently profitable.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jul 14, 2014 6:42 pm UTC

If you're interested: an automated lettuce greenhouse.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGPmbMIobpU

Pictures of a project that was also on the Philips site above, but with a better view of the setup, with ropots arms and stuff:

http://www.codemasystemsgroup.com/site/ ... iscious-be

They only use the stacked system for the propagation phase, then the racks with lettuces are moved to a greenhouse more like the finnish movie.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:41 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:This farm is posting profits vastly greater than profits posted by conventional farms, which tells you that it's more effective. There's also savings in fertilization and pesticides. I have no idea how the equipment costs compare; maintaining and running a handful of tractors and trucks is maybe similar to the cost of maintaining these shelves and pumps and lights?


Fertilizers and pesticides are dirt cheap compared to erecting buildings.

And frankly, you're going to need fertilizers anyways. You still need nutrients in hydroponics or what not. You just need to watch the doses carefully, because it's not moderated by all the dirt.

Izawwlgood wrote:This claims that reasonable/good yields are on the order of 800-1000 crates per acre per 2-3 days, a crate being 24-36 heads of leafy lettuce per crate. So that's ~9,000 heads of lettuce per day day per acre, while this guy is putting out 17,540 heads of lettuce per day per acre.


Who cares? I grew up in farming country. The smallest unit of land discussed for farming is a "forty", which is, of course, forty acres. Plenty of land just wasn't farmed on off years because there was no money in it. Efficiency per acre was not the most important element. It's more about dollars out for dollars put in.

Izawwlgood wrote:He's using 1% the water, which translates to less pesticides and fertilizers. I would be interested in seeing his electrical bill and profit reports. As mentioned, the company is expanding all over Japan, so this is evidently profitable.


The lower pesticides is primarily a feature of the contained environment, not the water usage. You simply shouldn't have the same exposure to pests as otherwise.

Fertilizers have already been covered.

It's in Japan, because in Japan, land IS in very short supply. This does not mean it will be practical elsewhere. Or, given Japan's population trends, even in Japan's future.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Fertilizers and pesticides are dirt cheap compared to erecting buildings.
And buildings/warehouse space are already erected a plenty. This doesn't need to be done in a brand new building.

Tyndmyr wrote:And frankly, you're going to need fertilizers anyways. You still need nutrients in hydroponics or what not. You just need to watch the doses carefully, because it's not moderated by all the dirt.
Of course you'll need fertilizer, and of course it'll need to be monitored more carefully. That said, it's applied more evenly, and you aren't fertilizing blank dirt space. That same link I provided suggests 500-600 lbs of 10-20-20 fertilizer per acre or 5-15 tons of manure per acre. While fertilizer isn't expensive, it causes massive problems with run off and soil burn out. For comparison, fertilizer for hydroponics system is on the order of dozens of teaspoons of fertilizer per gallon of growth medium.

Tyndmyr wrote:The lower pesticides is primarily a feature of the contained environment, not the water usage. You simply shouldn't have the same exposure to pests as otherwise.
Indeed, but so what? Fewer pesticides used means fewer pesticide resistant pests.

Tyndmyr wrote:Who cares? I grew up in farming country. The smallest unit of land discussed for farming is a "forty", which is, of course, forty acres. Plenty of land just wasn't farmed on off years because there was no money in it. Efficiency per acre was not the most important element. It's more about dollars out for dollars put in.
The point of these farms isn't that farm country doesn't exist, but that farm country is more wasteful in a variety of ways, and these can be built in cities, which reduces transportation costs/issues. Vertical stacking means you don't have to cover huge swaths of countries with fertilizer and pesticide run off, and the efficacy at which it's done means you can do it in the middle of the desert, or in Greenland all year round.

I'm not suggesting we stop farming outside, but this is a very promising and exciting step towards making farming a less wasteful and damaging enterprise.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:58 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Fertilizers and pesticides are dirt cheap compared to erecting buildings.
And buildings/warehouse space are already erected a plenty. This doesn't need to be done in a brand new building.


I assure you, new building or old, it costs a crapton more to rent commercial space, even in a warehouse, than it does to rent an empty field. More than it does to buy empty fields, generally speaking.

Tyndmyr wrote:And frankly, you're going to need fertilizers anyways. You still need nutrients in hydroponics or what not. You just need to watch the doses carefully, because it's not moderated by all the dirt.
Of course you'll need fertilizer, and of course it'll need to be monitored more carefully. That said, it's applied more evenly, and you aren't fertilizing blank dirt space. That same link I provided suggests 500-600 lbs of 10-20-20 fertilizer per acre or 5-15 tons of manure per acre. While fertilizer isn't expensive, it causes massive problems with run off and soil burn out. For comparison, fertilizer for hydroponics system is on the order of dozens of teaspoons of fertilizer per gallon of growth medium.


Fertilizer use isn't so bad. The plant uses what it does, regardless of which environment it's in. If you've enriched your soil, it doesn't instantly vanish. That portion not lost to runoff stays in the soil(presuming you are tilling weeds, leftover plants, etc under, and of course you are). The only reason runoff is even an issue is that fertilizer is so cheap that there's not a lot of reason to care about overuse, provided it's not so excessive you damage the crops.

Soil doesn't burn out, either. You can end up with too high a concentration of fertilizer, but that's not a significant risk, save in runoff areas where you aren't growing things anyway.

We use about 408M acres for farmland(US Ag Dept), and consumed 21.5 tons of fertilizer in 2008(Fertilizer Institute). That gets you about 105 lbs of fertilizer on average. Cost-wise, that's nothing. Note additionally that half or more of this is usually an inexpensive medium to provide bulk, etc, so the actual use is significantly less.

Much data on this in the "Oh me yarm fertilizer will doom us" department stems from the crop needing the most fertilization, corn, and extrapolating as if it were average, instead of the high end. Fertilizer usage actually peaked in the early 80s. We're getting more efficient with our usage of it.

Tyndmyr wrote:The lower pesticides is primarily a feature of the contained environment, not the water usage. You simply shouldn't have the same exposure to pests as otherwise.
Indeed, but so what? Fewer pesticides used means fewer pesticide resistant pests.


A. That's an externality so most won't worry about it...
B. Those who don't rely on pesticides to avoid pests...probably don't give a crap about pesticide resistance.

Not seeing the economic case here.

Tyndmyr wrote:Who cares? I grew up in farming country. The smallest unit of land discussed for farming is a "forty", which is, of course, forty acres. Plenty of land just wasn't farmed on off years because there was no money in it. Efficiency per acre was not the most important element. It's more about dollars out for dollars put in.
The point of these farms isn't that farm country doesn't exist, but that farm country is more wasteful in a variety of ways, and these can be built in cities, which reduces transportation costs/issues. Vertical stacking means you don't have to cover huge swaths of countries with fertilizer and pesticide run off, and the efficacy at which it's done means you can do it in the middle of the desert, or in Greenland all year round.

I'm not suggesting we stop farming outside, but this is a very promising and exciting step towards making farming a less wasteful and damaging enterprise.


What else are you gonna do with farm country instead? Farms aren't inherently evil or something. And increased power use has to come from somewhere. Stripping coal outta the ground to burn it isn't necessarily a win....

Zcorp
Posts: 1255
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 3:14 am UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zcorp » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:01 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:What else are you gonna do with farm country instead? Farms aren't inherently evil or something. And increased power use has to come from somewhere. Stripping coal outta the ground to burn it isn't necessarily a win....

Beyond that I don't want the farmland to turn into something that harms society it doesn't really matter. Hopefully the increased power use comes from renewable power - if not it will likely come from nuclear in the nearish future- having the infrastructure in place until then does us little harm for large gains. Ideally the US decides to actually care about the future for once and follows Germany's example so that we can do stuff like this with no/very little downside.

This style of farming should be much easier to automate as well.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:24 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I assure you, new building or old, it costs a crapton more to rent commercial space, even in a warehouse, than it does to rent an empty field. More than it does to buy empty fields, generally speaking.
Which is why I specifically mentioned doing this in cities, particularly as a means for eliminating transportation costs.
Re: Fertilizer use; It's a larger issue than I think you're suggesting.
Over fertilization is a pretty serious issue in our current agricultural practice. Since the COST isn't particularly significant, the environmental boon is worth mentioning.

I know you're not seeing the economic case, but I can't just keep repeating it. The guy claims 100-fold more productive farm space than the equivalent land. People farm lettuce profitably. This guy is expanding his facilities. Ergo, one can only assume that it is not 100-fold more productive and is also 100-fold more expensive.

Tyndmyr wrote:What else are you gonna do with farm country instead? Farms aren't inherently evil or something. And increased power use has to come from somewhere. Stripping coal outta the ground to burn it isn't necessarily a win....
For the third time, I'm not suggesting all farm land go wild. I'm suggesting major cities can be fed productively and effectively supplementing with this. Farmland will still be useful for orchards and taller growing crops that aren't as amenable to multiple harvests per season.

Or shit, convert that farmland to solar farms. I find it pretty telling and hilarious that the self-identified farmer is the one protesting this.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Zamfir
I built a novelty castle, the irony was lost on some.
Posts: 7594
Joined: Wed Aug 27, 2008 2:43 pm UTC
Location: Nederland

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jul 15, 2014 6:22 am UTC

People do not grow profitably grow lettuces at 1/100th of the area productivity of this setup. At least, not around here. Lettuces are already grown in greenhouses, year round, with accelerated growth cycles, on substrates or hydroponics, with continuous electronic monitoring, with added artificial lights etc. That's what standard capital-intensive lettuce growing looks like, and the same for many other vegetables and decorative plants.

Most of the advantages he claims have been in widespread use for quite some time. His 100fold improvement revolution is not in the future, it was in the past

The particular addition here are LED lights and stacked trays. Those are neat, they have potential for quite some applications, but they are not the main source of the claimed advatages. And electricity is expensive and ecologically damaging, which will put limits on the application of this method. It might turn out to be useful for lettuce, exactly because lettuces require little light. Though it's worthwhile to consider the farm I showed above, that uses stacked LED trays for young lettuces, then transfers the lettuces with an expensive machine to a single layer greenhouse for the main growth stage. Apparently, even for lettuces the LEDs are not a slam-dunk profit.

And keep in mind that bulk foods are not even grown in the simplest greenhouses. Most of our calories (and those of our agricultural animals) come from massive scale outdoor agriculture, often hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from the end consumer. That's where the main land use goes, the fertilizer, the gasoline. There is room for further savings there, with significant ecological impact, but LED lights won't make a dent there.

peregrine_crow
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 7:20 am UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby peregrine_crow » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:32 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:Most of our calories (and those of our agricultural animals) come from massive scale outdoor agriculture, often hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from the end consumer. That's where the main land use goes, the fertilizer, the gasoline.


I'm not a farmer or an ecologist (or whatever the appropriate field is here), but I guess that is exactly the advantage of hydroponic farms. Because they are stackable they use less land and can thus be placed anywhere, including densely populated areas and areas with climates that are unsuitable for more traditional farming (though greenhouses etc. have made this second one a lot less relevant). It also scales a lot better, which is nice, because population growth is a thing.

If it makes sense ecologically, but not economically then I guess that is what tax deductions and government subsidies are for.
Ignorance killed the cat, curiosity was framed.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 15, 2014 12:21 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:The particular addition here are LED lights and stacked trays.
The THINNESS of his lights is what's new, but verticality most certainly isn't. I'm not suggesting LED growing is new, I'm just excited that this guy is doing it better.
Zamfir wrote:People do not grow profitably grow lettuces at 1/100th of the area productivity of this setup. At least, not around here. Lettuces are already grown in greenhouses, year round, with accelerated growth cycles, on substrates or hydroponics, with continuous electronic monitoring, with added artificial lights etc. That's what standard capital-intensive lettuce growing looks like, and the same for many other vegetables and decorative plants.
They evidently do, or at least, conventional outdoor farming of lettuce is still absolutely something that is done. Again though, I wager the 100-fold figure is an exaggeration.
Zamfir wrote:nd keep in mind that bulk foods are not even grown in the simplest greenhouses. Most of our calories (and those of our agricultural animals) come from massive scale outdoor agriculture, often hundreds or thousands of kilometers away from the end consumer. That's where the main land use goes, the fertilizer, the gasoline. There is room for further savings there, with significant ecological impact, but LED lights won't make a dent there.
I'm not sure what you're getting at here; I'm really, honestly, not suggesting we stop growing things on farmland, and I don't think he is either. I really, honestly, think LED farms are probably only useful for quick harvest leafy products, not, say, wheat. Or soybeans. Or tomatoes. I'm not sure why you and Tyn feel the need to continually bring up the point that outdoor agriculture is still a thing.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Diadem » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:22 pm UTC

I honestly hope though that in a few decades outdoor farming won't be a thing.

In my future land transportation is all done underground. Some rural roads may still be above ground, but highways and other major roads are all underground. Parking in cities is also done underground. Other than pedestrians and bicyclists there is no traffic in cities. Farming is done in huge factories, or grown locally by hobbyists. Meat is also grown in factories, without the need to kill animals. Because of this, despite there being many more people than now, there is much more room for nature.

The future is awesome.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

speising
Posts: 2353
Joined: Mon Sep 03, 2012 4:54 pm UTC
Location: wien

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby speising » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:33 pm UTC

sounds more like a vision from the naive 50's.
i guess we'll all drive in atomic turbine driven cars.
but in the real world, people appreciate organically grown food, meat from animals which have actually eaten real grass, etc, and people would go crazy driving in nothing but a tunnel for a 1000km road trip.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 15, 2014 1:54 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I assure you, new building or old, it costs a crapton more to rent commercial space, even in a warehouse, than it does to rent an empty field. More than it does to buy empty fields, generally speaking.
Which is why I specifically mentioned doing this in cities, particularly as a means for eliminating transportation costs.
Re: Fertilizer use; It's a larger issue than I think you're suggesting.
Over fertilization is a pretty serious issue in our current agricultural practice. Since the COST isn't particularly significant, the environmental boon is worth mentioning.

I know you're not seeing the economic case, but I can't just keep repeating it. The guy claims 100-fold more productive farm space than the equivalent land. People farm lettuce profitably. This guy is expanding his facilities. Ergo, one can only assume that it is not 100-fold more productive and is also 100-fold more expensive.


Over-fertilization is not that big of a deal. Over-abundance of nutrients does happen on a large scale, but is often a result of excess production. Say, chicken manure. The way chickens are farmed en masse produces a ludicrous over-concentration of it, which risks environmental harm if it is not used.

Decreasing use does jack-all to fix this.

Replacing farms with solar panels is...of dubious environmental value even if you believe that the additional power draw will all be supplied by renewable energy(good luck with that, let me know when we're handling our existing load with that, or are even sort of close). Solar panels disrupt the environment too. Not a ton, but farming isn't that terrible either. Plenty of wildlife adapts well to farmland.

If you seriously think this will result in 100 times the money here in the US, you are welcome to go compete against existing farms. Good luck. It won't. The existing system is already extremely efficient.

Tyndmyr wrote:What else are you gonna do with farm country instead? Farms aren't inherently evil or something. And increased power use has to come from somewhere. Stripping coal outta the ground to burn it isn't necessarily a win....
For the third time, I'm not suggesting all farm land go wild. I'm suggesting major cities can be fed productively and effectively supplementing with this. Farmland will still be useful for orchards and taller growing crops that aren't as amenable to multiple harvests per season.

Or shit, convert that farmland to solar farms. I find it pretty telling and hilarious that the self-identified farmer is the one protesting this.


I'm not a farmer. I'm a software engineer. I simply grew up as a farmer.

This should be no more surprising than engineers pointing out that solar roadways are impractical.

peregrine_crow wrote:If it makes sense ecologically, but not economically then I guess that is what tax deductions and government subsidies are for.


Ugh. No. Just no. The ecology needs to be part of economics, sure. It is not a reason to ignore economics, though.

p1t1o
Posts: 948
Joined: Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:32 pm UTC
Location: London, UK

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby p1t1o » Tue Jul 15, 2014 2:24 pm UTC

As far as I know, there is a huge food excess in the developed world, and this hardly looks like the sort of appropriate technology needed in places where food is scarce.

Handy for space travel though :D

User avatar
Diadem
Posts: 5654
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:03 am UTC
Location: The Netherlands

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Diadem » Tue Jul 15, 2014 3:17 pm UTC

speising wrote:sounds more like a vision from the naive 50's.

Of course it is. What's the point of the future if we can't have those nice things we always wanted as a kid?

but in the real world, people appreciate organically grown food, meat from animals which have actually eaten real grass, etc, and people would go crazy driving in nothing but a tunnel for a 1000km road trip.

Sure there'll be a market for 'organic' (or other ill-defined feel-good terms) food. Like I said, I'm sure hobbyists will grow stuff themselves. And no doubt at the high end of the market, the luxury foods, there'll still be 'hand-grown' food as well.. But that will still only take a fraction of farmland we currently use. As for meat from real animals, I sincerely hope that'll be banned pretty much everywhere in a hundred years.

And people won't drive in these tunnels. My god, what kind of backwards future are you imagining? The car drives itself. You just sit back and read a book, or enjoy a game, or whatever.
It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I have an independent mind, you are an eccentric, he is round the twist
- Bernard Woolley in Yes, Prime Minister

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 15, 2014 4:19 pm UTC

p1t1o wrote:Handy for space travel though :D


Now, that IS a cool use.

I would like to see an attempt at an actual self sufficient space station be made...it's probably not practical QUITE yet, but...we're getting there, and it's certainly exciting.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 15, 2014 5:15 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Over-fertilization is not that big of a deal.
Except... it is? Can you maybe respond to the article I linked, or perhaps, link something that supports your position?

Tyndmyr wrote:Replacing farms with solar panels is...of dubious environmental value even if you believe that the additional power draw will all be supplied by renewable energy(good luck with that, let me know when we're handling our existing load with that, or are even sort of close). Solar panels disrupt the environment too. Not a ton, but farming isn't that terrible either. Plenty of wildlife adapts well to farmland.
Huh? Generating additional power is of dubious environmental value?

Farming isn't terrible, but, as I pointed out, it isn't particularly neutral.

Tyndmyr wrote:f you seriously think this will result in 100 times the money here in the US, you are welcome to go compete against existing farms. Good luck. It won't. The existing system is already extremely efficient.
I posted numbers showing how much more efficient this is. This guys company saw a 50% increase in stock value in 2012, when he started rolling these out. These are profitable, either more profitable than conventional farms, and/or more profitable than existing LED hydroponic farms.

Tyndmyr wrote:
peregrine_crow wrote:If it makes sense ecologically, but not economically then I guess that is what tax deductions and government subsidies are for.

Ugh. No. Just no. The ecology needs to be part of economics, sure. It is not a reason to ignore economics, though.
You do realize much of the success of current conventional farms, particularly corn, is due to the absurdly massive government subsidies that support it? Being bent out of shape about a greener newer more efficient tech getting a starting boost from subsidies is rather bizarre.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:32 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Over-fertilization is not that big of a deal.
Except... it is? Can you maybe respond to the article I linked, or perhaps, link something that supports your position?


I already cited sources for fertilizer use, farmland, and determined that it did not match up with your cited source. What more do you require to realize that this is overstated?

Tyndmyr wrote:Replacing farms with solar panels is...of dubious environmental value even if you believe that the additional power draw will all be supplied by renewable energy(good luck with that, let me know when we're handling our existing load with that, or are even sort of close). Solar panels disrupt the environment too. Not a ton, but farming isn't that terrible either. Plenty of wildlife adapts well to farmland.
Huh? Generating additional power is of dubious environmental value?

Farming isn't terrible, but, as I pointed out, it isn't particularly neutral.


The overall system.

There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with generating power, but if you are generating more power and consuming more power, then the total ecological impact of that needs to be accounted for. It isn't a net gain in power.

Solar panels affect the environment they are in. So do farms. Neither is a particularly bad thing to do to land, of course, but you can't just assume that replacing farms with solar panels to feed to plants indirectly is a net win. Due to various inefficiencies, you'd probably need to devote more land(or at least, the same land for more of the year) to collection.

Tyndmyr wrote:f you seriously think this will result in 100 times the money here in the US, you are welcome to go compete against existing farms. Good luck. It won't. The existing system is already extremely efficient.
I posted numbers showing how much more efficient this is. This guys company saw a 50% increase in stock value in 2012, when he started rolling these out. These are profitable, either more profitable than conventional farms, and/or more profitable than existing LED hydroponic farms.


*sigh* Just because it makes sense in urban japan doesn't mean it is efficient...anywhere else.

Also, a 50% increase in stock value does not inherently mean a new development is efficient. It just means that investors view the development positively. That's nice, but it doesn't guarantee efficiency.

Tyndmyr wrote:
peregrine_crow wrote:If it makes sense ecologically, but not economically then I guess that is what tax deductions and government subsidies are for.

Ugh. No. Just no. The ecology needs to be part of economics, sure. It is not a reason to ignore economics, though.
You do realize much of the success of current conventional farms, particularly corn, is due to the absurdly massive government subsidies that support it? Being bent out of shape about a greener newer more efficient tech getting a starting boost from subsidies is rather bizarre.


Yes. There are some existing ridiculous systems. The correct answer to a ridiculous system is to dismantle it and maybe replace it with something sane. Not to say "shit, nothing needs to make sense now".

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:40 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:I already cited sources for fertilizer use, farmland, and determined that it did not match up with your cited source. What more do you require to realize that this is overstated?
With all seriousness and with no sarcasm, I don't see where you did that. I see you quoted the 'Fertilizer Institute' on how much is necessary for growing, but that's it. You haven't cited anything that I can see on the issues of fertilizer run off.

Tyndmyr wrote:There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with generating power, but if you are generating more power and consuming more power, then the total ecological impact of that needs to be accounted for. It isn't a net gain in power.
The idea is because these LED farms are more productive and efficient than conventional farms, you use conventional farms for solar and/or crops that can't be or aren't typically grown in LED farms (e.g., orchards, corn, wheat, etc), and leave the leafy green farming to the LED farms. Given that leafy greens are also more susceptible to pests and spoilage, growing them closer to the source of consumption (i.e., minimizing transport) seems a pretty significant boon.

Tyndmyr wrote:*sigh* Just because it makes sense in urban japan doesn't mean it is efficient...anywhere else.

Also, a 50% increase in stock value does not inherently mean a new development is efficient. It just means that investors view the development positively. That's nice, but it doesn't guarantee efficiency.
Sure, fine; again, I'm not suggesting stop farming EVERYWHERE and do this instead. And it's not like 'urban area's with poor access to lots of good farmland' is a unique situation to Japan.

And sure, the stock value bump may be solely due to investor hype. It may also be due to the business running particularly smoothly. Perhaps because it is focused on a competitive product.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes. There are some existing ridiculous systems. The correct answer to a ridiculous system is to dismantle it and maybe replace it with something sane. Not to say "shit, nothing needs to make sense now".
The ongoing subsidy is insane. Subsidizing new technologies to help them get started is not insane, and, you haven't demonstrated that these LED farms are insane. At all.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

elminster
Posts: 1560
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 1:56 pm UTC
Location: London, UK, Dimensions 1 to 42.
Contact:

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby elminster » Wed Jul 16, 2014 11:55 am UTC

This is pretty cool, especially if designed such that a good portion of energy comes from say solar panels. In that way 3rd world countries (typically large amounts of sunlight) along with high startup capital costs (potentially paid back of the course of operation) could work around the limited water supply.
I think a lot of this boils down total cost of ownership of LEDS relative to production speed. The hydroponics won't be the most expensive part, which is essentially a flow of water past the roots with computer monitored nutrient composition, which will adjust where needed. Excluding the LEDs, pumps, electronics, i'd imagine the actual physical structures aren't too expensive. They could be large blow molded trays and metal frames.

I remember seeing a guy growing weed with layers of gutter pipe in a vertical spiral, made for barely anything, allowing for super density grow rooms with minimal light sources needed. If dont professionally and well thought out, it's mostly going to boil down to electricity costs. The ROI for a project like that could easily be only a few years.

note: I may have typed gibberish, I woke up and typed while still groggy from being half asleep. Ignore mistakes.
Image

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:56 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:I already cited sources for fertilizer use, farmland, and determined that it did not match up with your cited source. What more do you require to realize that this is overstated?
With all seriousness and with no sarcasm, I don't see where you did that. I see you quoted the 'Fertilizer Institute' on how much is necessary for growing, but that's it. You haven't cited anything that I can see on the issues of fertilizer run off.


A vast over-estimate of usage is a sign that you're overestimating the costs of fertilizer. And I've already explained the run-off issue.

Tyndmyr wrote:There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with generating power, but if you are generating more power and consuming more power, then the total ecological impact of that needs to be accounted for. It isn't a net gain in power.
The idea is because these LED farms are more productive and efficient than conventional farms, you use conventional farms for solar and/or crops that can't be or aren't typically grown in LED farms (e.g., orchards, corn, wheat, etc), and leave the leafy green farming to the LED farms. Given that leafy greens are also more susceptible to pests and spoilage, growing them closer to the source of consumption (i.e., minimizing transport) seems a pretty significant boon.


Leafy green farming is not a huge factor in fields. It does happen in some places, where it is efficient to do so. It is not a large factor in fertilizer use, with corn, etc requiring vastly higher per-acre rates of fertilization...and also taking up many more acres. The top US crops are corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton, sorghum and rice. Leafy greens are basically a rounding error.

Even if nobody was using greenhouses now(which is obviously not the case), moving leafy greens indoors wouldn't be a huge factor in say, fertilizer use overall.

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes. There are some existing ridiculous systems. The correct answer to a ridiculous system is to dismantle it and maybe replace it with something sane. Not to say "shit, nothing needs to make sense now".
The ongoing subsidy is insane. Subsidizing new technologies to help them get started is not insane, and, you haven't demonstrated that these LED farms are insane. At all.


Ah, yes. Shift the burden of proof to demonstrate that something is not insane. Because of course every new thing that is not insane is owed buckets of money.
No. Being new does not mean you inherently deserve that. And the burden of proof is on the new thing to demonstrate it's relevance.

Your way would have us throwing money at every new ridiculous infinite energy scheme until we demonstrated for sure that they were full of BS. Screw that.

Additionally "not insane" is irrelevant. I give no craps about if this is sane or not. I care about if it is practical. An idea can be entirely sane, yet still not reasonable to do.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:A vast over-estimate of usage is a sign that you're overestimating the costs of fertilizer. And I've already explained the run-off issue.
No, you said it wasn't an issue, but I'm not seeing where you linked any information supporting that it wasn't an issue. I'm also not seeing where you linked any information contrary to my estimates. This is in response to me linking an article in which a bunch of scientists talked about it being an issue, and I'm asking you to link evidence that crop fertilizer run off isn't an issue. Can you provide that information?

Tyndmyr wrote:The top US crops are corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton, sorghum and rice. Leafy greens are basically a rounding error.
Alllllllllllllll the more reason to do all growing in LED farms. I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here, other than 'the US grows other crops'. Poking around, I'm obviously finding varying returns, ranging from 400$ per acre of corn in Iowa to 800$ per acre for wheat in Illinois. So sure, growing leafy greens conventionally is probably inefficient and less profitable than growing something else. So, move it indoors to LED hydroponic farms where it can be done more productively and profitably. Again, I'm not suggesting stop farming, so pointing out that OTHER crops are grown around the country, incidentally, crops that are less amenable to hydroponic LED growing in the first place, is rather irrelevant.

Tyndmyr wrote:Ah, yes. Shift the burden of proof to demonstrate that something is not insane. Because of course every new thing that is not insane is owed buckets of money.
No. Being new does not mean you inherently deserve that. And the burden of proof is on the new thing to demonstrate it's relevance.

Your way would have us throwing money at every new ridiculous infinite energy scheme until we demonstrated for sure that they were full of BS. Screw that.

Additionally "not insane" is irrelevant. I give no craps about if this is sane or not. I care about if it is practical. An idea can be entirely sane, yet still not reasonable to do.
Wat? No, listen; you were suggesting subsidies shouldn't be used to promote this farming practice because it was insane. The onus of proving it's insane is on you, and you have not done so. That it's profitable, that it's efficient, and that it's expanding in Japan WITHOUT the need of subsidies should tell you something about it. But you're insisting it's insane and won't work, and you're not providing any information or evidence for why.

Honestly, I don't understand what your beef is with this farming method. You seem to be grasping at straws to argue against it.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 16, 2014 2:25 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:A vast over-estimate of usage is a sign that you're overestimating the costs of fertilizer. And I've already explained the run-off issue.
No, you said it wasn't an issue, but I'm not seeing where you linked any information supporting that it wasn't an issue. I'm also not seeing where you linked any information contrary to my estimates. This is in response to me linking an article in which a bunch of scientists talked about it being an issue, and I'm asking you to link evidence that crop fertilizer run off isn't an issue. Can you provide that information?


If you like, you can consider me a primary source. Manure is listed as a runoff source. You should not need a citation to understand that this will be produced regardless. If you google "chicken farm runoff", you'll find no end of evidence that this is a problem regardless of use in farming. Use of it as fertilizer is actually a pretty good means of disposing of it. Reduces the problem.

Tyndmyr wrote:The top US crops are corn, soybeans, hay, wheat, cotton, sorghum and rice. Leafy greens are basically a rounding error.
Alllllllllllllll the more reason to do all growing in LED farms. I'm not sure what you're trying to prove here, other than 'the US grows other crops'. Poking around, I'm obviously finding varying returns, ranging from 400$ per acre of corn in Iowa to 800$ per acre for wheat in Illinois. So sure, growing leafy greens conventionally is probably inefficient and less profitable than growing something else. So, move it indoors to LED hydroponic farms where it can be done more productively and profitably. Again, I'm not suggesting stop farming, so pointing out that OTHER crops are grown around the country, incidentally, crops that are less amenable to hydroponic LED growing in the first place, is rather irrelevant.


Er. It just means the market for leafy greens is smaller. It also means that any proposed savings in fertilizers, etc are incredibly tiny.

Tyndmyr wrote:Ah, yes. Shift the burden of proof to demonstrate that something is not insane. Because of course every new thing that is not insane is owed buckets of money.
No. Being new does not mean you inherently deserve that. And the burden of proof is on the new thing to demonstrate it's relevance.

Your way would have us throwing money at every new ridiculous infinite energy scheme until we demonstrated for sure that they were full of BS. Screw that.

Additionally "not insane" is irrelevant. I give no craps about if this is sane or not. I care about if it is practical. An idea can be entirely sane, yet still not reasonable to do.
Wat? No, listen; you were suggesting subsidies shouldn't be used to promote this farming practice because it was insane. The onus of proving it's insane is on you, and you have not done so. That it's profitable, that it's efficient, and that it's expanding in Japan WITHOUT the need of subsidies should tell you something about it. But you're insisting it's insane and won't work, and you're not providing any information or evidence for why.

Honestly, I don't understand what your beef is with this farming method. You seem to be grasping at straws to argue against it.


I did not claim that this plan was insane. I merely agreed that the existing subsidy system is insane. And I don't think it is logical to look at a broken system, and wish to scale it up instead of fixing it.

I do not have a beef with this farming method. I am merely pointing out that the "this fixes all these problems" is not really the case. It has interesting uses, but it is not revolutionizing the way food is grown.

User avatar
Izawwlgood
WINNING
Posts: 18686
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 3:55 pm UTC
Location: There may be lovelier lovelies...

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Jul 16, 2014 4:17 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:If you like, you can consider me a primary source. Manure is listed as a runoff source. You should not need a citation to understand that this will be produced regardless. If you google "chicken farm runoff", you'll find no end of evidence that this is a problem regardless of use in farming. Use of it as fertilizer is actually a pretty good means of disposing of it. Reduces the problem.
I'd rather not consider you a primary source; you're making claims that run contrary to what a bunch of scientists are making, that is well documented and supported by evidence, evidence I linked you to, and you yourself pointed out that you aren't a farmer, you're a software engineer. So, I ask again, I'm asking you to provide evidence that fertilizer run off is NOT a problem that farms create.

Tyndmyr wrote:Er. It just means the market for leafy greens is smaller. It also means that any proposed savings in fertilizers, etc are incredibly tiny.
And that farming them indoors via hydroponic LEDs is more cost effective, for all the reasons I've previously listed. And I already said that the SAVINGS in fertilizers wasn't the issue, but the reduction of fertilizer use. Which is relevant because of fertilizer run off being a problem.

Tyndmyr wrote:I did not claim that this plan was insane. I merely agreed that the existing subsidy system is insane. And I don't think it is logical to look at a broken system, and wish to scale it up instead of fixing it.

I do not have a beef with this farming method. I am merely pointing out that the "this fixes all these problems" is not really the case. It has interesting uses, but it is not revolutionizing the way food is grown.
Huh? Your response to the sidetrack on subsisides was;
Tyndmyr wrote:Yes. There are some existing ridiculous systems. The correct answer to a ridiculous system is to dismantle it and maybe replace it with something sane. Not to say "shit, nothing needs to make sense now".


Again, I'm not suggesting we stop conventional farming. Your straw man is getting very tiring. And we already have evidence that this is revolutionizing the way food is grown since it's more profitable to grow at least some crops via this method.
... with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet.

Tyndmyr
Posts: 11443
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:38 pm UTC

Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Jul 16, 2014 5:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:If you like, you can consider me a primary source. Manure is listed as a runoff source. You should not need a citation to understand that this will be produced regardless. If you google "chicken farm runoff", you'll find no end of evidence that this is a problem regardless of use in farming. Use of it as fertilizer is actually a pretty good means of disposing of it. Reduces the problem.
I'd rather not consider you a primary source; you're making claims that run contrary to what a bunch of scientists are making, that is well documented and supported by evidence, evidence I linked you to, and you yourself pointed out that you aren't a farmer, you're a software engineer. So, I ask again, I'm asking you to provide evidence that fertilizer run off is NOT a problem that farms create.


I gave you the keywords to punch into google. Does it not count unless I make a lmgtfy link?

And you are, again, misrepresenting my claim. I'm not saying that farms bear no responsibility whatsoever for fertilizer runoff, or that it is not a problem. I am merely pointing out that this is going to do jack-all to fix fertilizer runoff. You will note that is a claim YOU made, and not a claim backed by sources you linked.

Tyndmyr wrote:Er. It just means the market for leafy greens is smaller. It also means that any proposed savings in fertilizers, etc are incredibly tiny.
And that farming them indoors via hydroponic LEDs is more cost effective, for all the reasons I've previously listed. And I already said that the SAVINGS in fertilizers wasn't the issue, but the reduction of fertilizer use. Which is relevant because of fertilizer run off being a problem.


Look, if it's endless free money through the miracle of LEDs and indoors, which nobody else has thought of ever, go forth and make an indoor lettuce farm. Let us know how it works out.

Reduction in fertilizers used on leafy greens is utterly irrelevant for runoff. They are a low-fertilization crop that occupies very little farmland. If you're not accepting this, you're just ignoring data already provided. You seem to want me to quote some other scientist who happened to research your exact question or something. Cmon. Put the pieces together.

This is like talking about how much you're saving the environment by your awesome idea to use electric weedwackers instead of gas ones.

Tyndmyr wrote:I did not claim that this plan was insane. I merely agreed that the existing subsidy system is insane. And I don't think it is logical to look at a broken system, and wish to scale it up instead of fixing it.

I do not have a beef with this farming method. I am merely pointing out that the "this fixes all these problems" is not really the case. It has interesting uses, but it is not revolutionizing the way food is grown.
Huh? Your response to the sidetrack on subsisides was;
Tyndmyr wrote:Yes. There are some existing ridiculous systems. The correct answer to a ridiculous system is to dismantle it and maybe replace it with something sane. Not to say "shit, nothing needs to make sense now".


Again, I'm not suggesting we stop conventional farming. Your straw man is getting very tiring. And we already have evidence that this is revolutionizing the way food is grown since it's more profitable to grow at least some crops via this method.


Yes. My statements are perfectly consistent. To spell it out painfully clearly, I agree that plenty of past and present subsidy systems are ridiculous. I am for fixing or removing those. I do not believe it is reasonable to justify an economically irrational decision by pointing out that other economically irrational decisions have also been made. Strive to be better, do not seek excuses to make things worse.


Return to “Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 9 guests