LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

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Izawwlgood
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:00 pm UTC

Ah, my mistake. EDIT: Though I'm uncertain the distinction between total farmland I provided and the number you came to? Total cropland is probably going to be smaller than the total arable land, since much of the US farming industry is allowable due to irrigation, not arability of the land.

According to this, the total US livestock pool generates what amounts to approximately 15% of the total imported fertilizer consumption (nitrogen and phosphorus). BUT that 60% of farms that generate manure generate it in excess of their needs.

I'm not sure how to specifically separate a comparison of the two in any case, particularly due to the multiple inputs that can be used for nitrogen based fertilizer. The point is that livestock generates significantly less total manure than crops require for fertilizer.
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jul 31, 2014 9:47 pm UTC

Here's the first page of the fertilizer-specific discussion:
Izawwlgood wrote:While fertilizer isn't expensive, it causes massive problems with run off and soil burn out.
Tyndmyr wrote:Fertilizer use isn't so bad.
Izawwlgood wrote: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.
Tyndmyr wrote: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.
Izawwlgood wrote:Except... it is? Can you maybe respond to the article I linked, or perhaps, link something that supports your position?
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?
Izawwlgood wrote: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: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.
Izawwlgood wrote: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: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.
Izawwlgood wrote: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: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.

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If reducing usage won't do anything to fix fertilizer runoff, and will in fact exacerbate the problem because it means manure will remain concentrated near livestock instead of being spread around on crop fields, then is that not equivalent to saying that (crop) over-fertilization is not a problem? I don't see how that's being misrepresented at any point in the above exchange.

In any case, this document just posted suggests that transportation, rather than quantity, is at the root of the too-much-chickenshit-in-one-place issue. If evenly spread throughout the country, it would only cover a fraction of total crop fertilizer use.

Therefore, anything that reduced crop fertilizer use in areas where it doesn't come from manure would indeed reduce the total amount of any kind of fertilizer available to potentially become runoff.

Which would reduce total fertilizer runoff.

Which would be an environmental improvement (if not a terribly significant one when we're just talking about things like lettuce or whatever).
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:36 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:That first link also contains the sentence, "The most prevalent source of agricultural water pollution is soil that is washed off fields." So there's that bit of information. Maybe that's the site Tyndmyr meant to link before? Still a bit bizarre to attach it to a claim that he'd never said anything about nonpoint source pollution, though, as the site is called "Agricultural Nonpoint Source Fact Sheet".


Sonuva...I think I have referenced the wrong thing in frustration. Yeah, that's the line I was going for. The actual soil erosion is a really big deal. It's hardly the only issue, but...runoff is a term encompassing quite a lot of ways in which humanity impacts the wild.

That said, 'twas never about the title. The only thing important was the the definition of runoff is a general one. The general definition is in common use at the EPA(and in related scientific communities)...point vs nonpoint isn't really important to any claims I was making.

You're also off by three orders of magnitude: "An estimated 238,000 working farms and ranches in the United States are considered animal feeding operations, generating about 500 million tons of manure each year." Unfortunately the fertilizer consumption data you posted explicitly excludes manure fertilizer, in addition to reporting the rate per ha of arable land, without any indication of how their notion of arable land compares to actual land used for crops. The World Bank site also includes arable land as a percent of total land area, which amounts to 172 million hectares.

So it looks like synthetic fertilizers amount to about 20 million tons used annually, compared to 500 million tons of manure produced annually, but that's pretty unhelpful information without knowing how much manure is used as fertilizer.


Well, not all of it is used as fertilizer, to be sure. But...it all has to go somewhere. If it's not being used as fertilizer, it's either being stored or dumped, and storage of ever expanding amounts of poo isn't a particularly economic or beloved thing. Giant vats DO exist in farm country(in developed countries, anyway), but it's hardly a permanent solution. Often, the amount dumped on fields is determined more by a need for disposalthan a need for additional nutrients. That's...not great for runoff, but it's still superior to outright dumping, which unfortunately does happen. Not necessarily intentionally...it may simply be a lack of maintainance on the sewage tank until the whole thing blows, and the local river or what not gets a huge dose all at once. That's generally pretty horrific, environmentally speaking, when that happens.

In less developed countries, waste disposal is increasingly terrible. They don't have the scale of industrial farms the modern world does, though, so while their practices may not be great(see also, the Ganges), industrial animal farming still bears...significant responsibility.

gmalivuk wrote:If reducing usage won't do anything to fix fertilizer runoff, and will in fact exacerbate the problem because it means manure will remain concentrated near livestock instead of being spread around on crop fields, then is that not equivalent to saying that (crop) over-fertilization is not a problem? I don't see how that's being misrepresented at any point in the above exchange.


Over-fertilization is a problem to some degree. It's just...not the primary issue at hand. I mean, sure, people are definitely dumping excess manure on fields, sometimes. And that is a problem...but the production of the pollution agent is not being displaced by hydroponics, so it's simply not relevant. The insistance on if overfertilization exists or not isn't particularly informative. Because, ultimately, I'm making a point about production being important, not use. This is evident quite early on, is it not? He's postulating that runoff will have a net reduction as a result of adoption of hydroponics. In fact, while I appreciate that you are trying to post succinct summaries, if you pop to my early quotations, you'll note that I outlined this exact chain of reasoning early on. My second post linked above expanded this fully to clarify....everything after that was simply goin' round in circles, as Izzawl refused to talk about anything other than use, and oddly insisted that I was doing the same.

gmalivuk wrote:In any case, this document just posted suggests that transportation, rather than quantity, is at the root of the too-much-chickenshit-in-one-place issue. If evenly spread throughout the country, it would only cover a fraction of total crop fertilizer use.

Therefore, anything that reduced crop fertilizer use in areas where it doesn't come from manure would indeed reduce the total amount of any kind of fertilizer available to potentially become runoff.

Which would reduce total fertilizer runoff.

Which would be an environmental improvement (if not a terribly significant one when we're just talking about things like lettuce or whatever).


Quantity and difficulty of transportation are somewhat tied together. If you're producing vast quantities, and you have to truck it increasingly far away to people who need it, transportion will become an issue. But, the nature of feedlot farming is that you produce vast quantities.

Reducing the need for fertilizer will, on average, mean that manure production areas will have more manure leftover after fulfilling local demand. The same distribution difficulty still remains, and hydroponics isn't really about fixing that. Lower demand for manure means more dumped manure, and further risks of unwise concentrations.

So, you don't necessarily get any net improvement. In fact, on average, you would expect net harm*(though many variables play into pollution, and local factors could skew things for given examples), because of decreased usage.

*Your source does observe that manure can sometimes cause more ecological harm than other commercial fertilizers, for instance. Manure isn't inherently bad or anything...but it's much less likely that a farmer will deliberately over-fertilize his fields to get rid of fertilizer he has to buy, vs fertilizer he's actively trying to just get rid of, even leaving aside other issues like variability for simplicity's sake.

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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Aug 01, 2014 3:24 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Over-fertilization is a problem to some degree. It's just...not the primary issue at hand. I mean, sure, people are definitely dumping excess manure on fields, sometimes. And that is a problem...but the production of the pollution agent is not being displaced by hydroponics, so it's simply not relevant. The insistance on if overfertilization exists or not isn't particularly informative. Because, ultimately, I'm making a point about production being important, not use. This is evident quite early on, is it not? He's postulating that runoff will have a net reduction as a result of adoption of hydroponics. In fact, while I appreciate that you are trying to post succinct summaries, if you pop to my early quotations, you'll note that I outlined this exact chain of reasoning early on. My second post linked above expanded this fully to clarify....everything after that was simply goin' round in circles, as Izzawl refused to talk about anything other than use, and oddly insisted that I was doing the same.
Can you just respond to the article linked, which is the most recent in a string of articles that underline that excessive fertilizer use and subsequent run off is a problem? And your point that production is important is demonstrably exaggerated, as the most recent article linked shows that all the manure in the US generates COULD account for only ~15% of the total fertilizer use. Meaning even if all the generated manure was being teleported to farms where it was needed, and used, they would still need yet MORE fertilizer to grow the crops they do (horticulture!), and STILL result in massive problematic run off that is a total problem. If you now want to make a distinction between generation and use, then fine, but it doesn't make a valid or relevant point.

You'll notice that while yes, run off will be reduced by the utilization of hydroponics, I've made no claims as to HOW MUCH it will be reduced, and, as gmalivuk succinctly put it;
gmalivuk wrote:... anything that reduced crop fertilizer use in areas where it doesn't come from manure would indeed reduce the total amount of any kind of fertilizer available to potentially become runoff.

Which would reduce total fertilizer runoff.

Which would be an environmental improvement (if not a terribly significant one when we're just talking about things like lettuce or whatever).


You'll further note that his succinct summaries are simply reposting your posts and my responses to your shenanigans. Gmalivuk literally just reposted the conversation you and I had and drew attention to your lack of citation and all over the map debating ploys, and then repeated my argument against your run off handwavium, including the fact that the link you posted doesn't actually support the point you keep leaning on. And just so we're clear, the reason we've gone in circles is clearly shown in gmalivuk's reconstructed repost of our conversation; you have been arguing this in incredibly poor faith. I'm glad you're capable of responding to him politely, and now for the second time in the thread request that you knock off your shitty behavior and attitude towards me, perhaps by responding to me directly, instead of passively for the third time.
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Sockmonkey » Fri Aug 01, 2014 5:18 am UTC

The low water usage makes me think of using this in countries with a lot of desert.
As such places tend to be quite sunny most of the time, outside sunlight could be gathered and directed to the nooks and crannies of a hydroponics building using a passive fiber-optic setup. A single large light could then light up all the plants at night through those same fiber-optics.

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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Aug 05, 2014 9:42 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Over-fertilization is a problem to some degree. It's just...not the primary issue at hand. I mean, sure, people are definitely dumping excess manure on fields, sometimes. And that is a problem...but the production of the pollution agent is not being displaced by hydroponics, so it's simply not relevant. The insistance on if overfertilization exists or not isn't particularly informative. Because, ultimately, I'm making a point about production being important, not use. This is evident quite early on, is it not? He's postulating that runoff will have a net reduction as a result of adoption of hydroponics. In fact, while I appreciate that you are trying to post succinct summaries, if you pop to my early quotations, you'll note that I outlined this exact chain of reasoning early on. My second post linked above expanded this fully to clarify....everything after that was simply goin' round in circles, as Izzawl refused to talk about anything other than use, and oddly insisted that I was doing the same.
Can you just respond to the article linked, which is the most recent in a string of articles that underline that excessive fertilizer use and subsequent run off is a problem? And your point that production is important is demonstrably exaggerated, as the most recent article linked shows that all the manure in the US generates COULD account for only ~15% of the total fertilizer use. Meaning even if all the generated manure was being teleported to farms where it was needed, and used, they would still need yet MORE fertilizer to grow the crops they do (horticulture!), and STILL result in massive problematic run off that is a total problem. If you now want to make a distinction between generation and use, then fine, but it doesn't make a valid or relevant point.


Yes, I am fully aware that manure is not going to displace all fertilizer use. It can't. This is not limited to reasons of production. However, you're all convinced that there's a net environmental gain from swapping to hydroponics. And yet, you do not demonstrate this. You skimmed over the use of buildings, you want to just assume that of course, net pollution due to runoff will be reduced, despite it being...far more complicated than that.

Hell, merely paving ground and building buildings can increase runoff, which neatly ties both of those issues together. Runoff is hardly the only form of pollution, of course, but even in a discussion of it, one cannot reasonably ignore the use of buildings.

You'll further note that his succinct summaries are simply reposting your posts and my responses to your shenanigans. Gmalivuk literally just reposted the conversation you and I had and drew attention to your lack of citation and all over the map debating ploys, and then repeated my argument against your run off handwavium, including the fact that the link you posted doesn't actually support the point you keep leaning on. And just so we're clear, the reason we've gone in circles is clearly shown in gmalivuk's reconstructed repost of our conversation; you have been arguing this in incredibly poor faith. I'm glad you're capable of responding to him politely, and now for the second time in the thread request that you knock off your shitty behavior and attitude towards me, perhaps by responding to me directly, instead of passively for the third time.


I saw his reply as attempting to make a coherent argument from your various statements. It didn't seem particularly strange to repond to that argument. If it is the same as your argument, well...good! Respond to it, and maybe confusion averted. If not, please clarify. Additionally, I do not feel obliged to respond only to you. I have responded to you plenty. I will also respond to other people, when I feel like it. He talked to me, I responded. Even if I am explaining my conversation with you to him...I am not obligated to reply to everything you have said, or even to you at all.

My attitude towards you is that you are continually attempting to make this personal, bringing up unsupported accusations regarding the meta-discussion, rather than defending your claims. I find this frustrating and obnoxious. I am rather less enthused about discussing with you as a result. Yelling at me more does not fill me with additional enthusiasm, and I am remarkably tired of justifying why I posted, then justifying the justification, and so on.

Sockmonkey wrote:The low water usage makes me think of using this in countries with a lot of desert.
As such places tend to be quite sunny most of the time, outside sunlight could be gathered and directed to the nooks and crannies of a hydroponics building using a passive fiber-optic setup. A single large light could then light up all the plants at night through those same fiber-optics.


Mirrors, lenses, etc are sometimes used for lighting. You have to be careful with such setups because, if used directly with plants, you can accidentally focus too much energy in an area. LEDs somewhat mitigate this, because while you sacrifice a purely passive setup, you have very fine control over where the light goes, regardless of weather, etc. That said, combining the two would likely be somewhat expensive. Running wire is likely cheaper than running fiber.

But yeah, water usage does vary immensely in importance by location...in an ideal setup, you'd tailor the specific growing system to the needs of the area. This already does happen quite a bit, but it's not always perfectly efficient. Subisidies, historical trends, changes in demand for water, climate change can all impact a farming area significantly.

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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Aug 06, 2014 12:21 am UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:My attitude towards you is that you are continually attempting to make this personal, bringing up unsupported accusations regarding the meta-discussion, rather than defending your claims.
Unsupported accusations? Such as the accusation that you continued to be unwilling or unable to link to references for your counterclaims? That was pretty well supported actually, and is what caused me to enter the discussion in the first place.

In any case, Izawwlgood has now linked to that pdf that seems to be the most comprehensive production + use data brought into the discussion thus far, so how about you each drop the previous metadiscussion entirely and move forward with some real numbers.

As in, if you're going to be discussing building costs and ecological impacts, start with some well-sourced actual numbers and move on from there. No more back-and-forth relying on unsupported assertions.
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Aug 06, 2014 2:00 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Yes, I am fully aware that manure is not going to displace all fertilizer use. It can't. This is not limited to reasons of production. However, you're all convinced that there's a net environmental gain from swapping to hydroponics. And yet, you do not demonstrate this. You skimmed over the use of buildings, you want to just assume that of course, net pollution due to runoff will be reduced, despite it being...far more complicated than that.
To be extra clear here, your assertion was that run off wasn't that bad, and that manure run off from livestock was extra bad. You claimed that reducing fertilizer use in horticulture would result in an increase in run off from livestock. We have shown that hydroponics will reduce, albeit a small amount, fertilizer use in horticulture, which is good, because fertilizer use in horticulture is significantly more fertilizer entering the ground than manure generated from livestock.

You haven't responded to this point sufficiently, aside from saying 'Manure won't displace all fertilizer use'. Which is not something we claimed at all. It's actually the opposite of what we claimed, when we pointed out that the total generated manure from all livestock in America annually equals ~15% of the the total fertilizer used in horticulture. Which was my point all along, that fertilizer run off from horticulture is much worse than run off from livestock.

Also, run off is still a pretty serious problem. Please stop trying to assert otherwise, particularly without any links.

You brought up buildings, and demonstrated that they have a run off impact, but have not done anything to demonstrate that it is worse than farmland, nor that transitioning farmland to indoor hydroponics is a net increase in run off.
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:34 pm UTC

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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby gladiolas » Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:27 pm UTC

I'm totally in favor of this...but have you all seen this Isaac Asimov story?

https://sites.google.com/site/asimovgoodtaste/

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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 27, 2015 2:59 pm UTC

I forgot to read this at home - can you paraphrase for those of us at work?
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Re: LED farm 100-fold more awesomer than farmland

Postby SDK » Fri Feb 27, 2015 3:39 pm UTC

It's a story about a space colony called Gammer. They generally consider themselves superior to all the other colonies, though there is zero interaction with them other than the occasional youngster going on the "Grand Tour" to visit the other worlds (though this is highly frowned upon). Most of the story focuses on the obsession with food and tasting, with computer programs being used to generate the perfect flavours and intense competition between cooks. The relevance to this thread is that all of their food is synthetic. The very thought of eating something that is grown in the ground is completely revolting to them, and is the main reason that the Gammerpeople look down on the other colonies who "browse" for their food.
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