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Vertical farming is about feeding people sustainably. So what can an invasive grass like bamboo contribute?
One of the main flaws of vertical farming that businesses and enthusiasts alike are somehow blind to (even after explaining it to them) is the fact that all accurate claims about sustainability in vertical farming have to take into account material life cycles from a cradle to cradle perspective.
In other words – it’s great that farms can reduce pesticide use by 95% + or reduce water use by that much, but how much water and how much air pollution went into making the plastic pipes and shelves to make that possible?
No one is thinking about that and they should be because there’s a heck of a lot more in in terms of total sunk carbon costs for a vertical farm than a traditional farm.
But, realistically, that’s an extremely difficult and expensive analysis to do. So, in the meantime, vertical farmers should continue to push the envelope to incorporate other sustainable building practices into their operations. Bamboo is just one example:
- What if we could build our shelves out of bamboo?
- What if we could build our channels out of bamboo?
- What if we could even build a throughly insulated shell for our farms out of bamboo!?
I mean, your farm might get eaten by pandas, but the implications would be very cool. Bamboo has greater tensile strength (or resistance to being pulled apart) than steel, and withstands compression better than concrete (source from an article about racing with bikes built out of the stuff).
Multiple stories of scaffolding are built with bamboo to facilitate skyscraper construction in many countries. The stuff is strong.
And there are some companies like BooGardens (credit for the header image) who are already looking at this application.
If you want to read more check out this blog post from design 490 and let me know what you think. But bottom line is both vertical farming and urban farming can benefit from bamboo.