The Future of Jobs - Farmer 2.0, Urban Farming

Vertical Forest in Milan, best 2015 architecture, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat. Credit: Illinois Institute of Technology

A rendering of urban farming. Credit: Museum of the City

Let's start considering a few jobs that may become available in the coming years and in the next decade.

In Milan a vertical forest is towering over the Garibaldi Railway Station. It was not designed with agriculture in mind but it shows that plants can become an integral part of a urban landscape. In Newark AeroFarms is operating several vertical field growing lettuce and other vegetable with a yield that is 3 times better of a normal "horizontal" field an using much less water.

Their "fields" are rows of stacked containers, each one foot high (some 30cm), 35 stacked one on the other. It is like having 35 fields in the space of a single field. The lighting is obtained through LED, with low consumption and using the wavelengths  needed by the plants being cultivated (plants are not using all of the Sun light, just a minor portion of it, and different plants use different parts of the light spectrum). By customising the lightning to the specific plant energy can be saved and growth increased.

At MIT CityFARM is reinventing agriculture leveraging on engineering, big data and network connectivity. Their goal is to make a city self sufficient in terms of agriculture needs, producing as much vegetables and fruits as their citizens need.

In the future architects will use plants as an integral part of buildings vertical surfaces (and also as part of the roof). Vertical farming will become a new type of job requiring ICT skills, in addition to understanding of biology.  

The selection of plants, and possibile some tweaking with their genome, will further increase the suitability and effectiveness of urban farming.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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