Will vertical farming save money?



  1. 0 Votes

    Ground Water Radiochemistry


    Chpater 1- Incidents:

                A brief survey of the history and application of groundwater radiochemistry to radioisotope leaks.

                            Brookhaven National Lab – 1997

    Tritium leak at US reactor sparks crisis for neutron source users. Nature, Vol 386.1997

    Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant – 2010



    Radioactive Leak Is Fixed at Vermont Plant


    Chapter 2 – Theory:

    Case Study: A field study of tritium migration in groundwater

    Undergroud Nuclear test sites (Nevada/China).

    Comparison of the equations learned in class to data

    Discussion of departures from class theory – mobile colloids.

                Nevada test site: (Kersting et al, 1999) – Nature


    Chapter 3 – Modeling:

    Percolation modeling of a radioactive tracer through a ground water system




    Half life of radio isotope

    Tritium calibration

    Varying flow speed (plume modeling, lateral spreading)

    Constant/pulse source of radioisotopes.


                                        Concentration vs Distance vs Time

                                        Concentration overlaid on map of region


    Chapter 4 – Discussion/Conclusions:

    Comparison of modeled results to in situ measurements

    Questions my model may be able to address:

    Would an aquifer with high flow produce a dangerous source of contamination from a nuclear test or leaking reactor?

    Does dilution of radioisotope in fast flowing aquifer reduce the radiation hazard?

    When might radioactive leaks present a health hazard?


    Lets break this down:

    What are a costs associated with farming?

    Water/Fertilizer/Distribution/Soil/Real Estate or Building Material/Mechanical or Manual Harvesting/Economies of Scale/Property Taxes/Light or Energy/Insurance are the things that come to mind.


    A vertical skyscraper will use less water, as it is self-contained and would not have to take out insurance against droughts for this reason; irrigation loses most of the water to evaporation. However water is not very expensive (it falls from the sky after all). These are cost savings.


    Fertilizer will cost the same no matter where it is used, minus distribution costs. This is cost neutral.


    You might think that distribution of food from farms to cities will cost more than supplying the cities directly with growers in the cities – but in reality the food produced in the vertical towers will be sold and shipped to whoever is willing to pay the highest price. The cost of distributing locally may cost less thank shipping in food. However, the cost of shipping produce by boat is not very great. Overall cost savings.


    Real estate in a city will cost more than buying land in an agricultural region; Insurance and property taxes will be much more costly. Overall expense.


    Mechanical harvesting is an expense – but is very efficient – to get an idea of just how efficient watch this clip of carrots being harvested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUrgFbLkFK0 Paying someone to hand harvest in a vertical farm will be much more expensive.


    Soil will have to be trucked into a vertical farm perhaps, which might be an added expense. Dirt comes with the property when you buy farmland. Building materials for a vertical farm as also an added expense.


    As space is limited in a city, vertical farming might not benefit from economies of scale as easily as a large commercial farm would. This amounts to an expense.


    Energy: Vertical farms have to light themselves with electricity if they want to make full use of their square footage. In farmland light comes naturally. This is an expense for vertical farms.


    So can vertical farms be cost competitive? Well, if you are in an area far from any farmlands with little water, high demand for fresh produce and ample electricity (maybe solar in the case of Dubai) then maybe it would be cost competitive.



    • 0 Votes

      Vertical farms wont use dirt. They will utilize hydroponic farming techniques. In the same vein, fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides are all unnecessary or used in vastly lower quantities. You aren’t outside after all.

      Hand harvesting is not a long term option, Harvesting can be done in similar automated fashion, it will simply require development Input.

      Lastly, scales of economy are realized through overall industry size. Should vertical farms become prevalent they will experience the same scales of economy relative to any other industry. The scalability of an individual establishment is what you meant, and yes this will likely be less scalable than a traditional industrial farming combine.

      Everything else looks good.

      To add my own spin to your answer, the viability depends mostly on the country in question, and on two factors:
      1) the population density of the region you wish to build
      2) the aggregate percentage of produce imported by that country.

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