Prestigious mention in the Economist for Swedish LED lighting specialist Heliospectra. In a recent article titled “The Future of Agriculture”, the Economist argues that if agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more like manufacturing.
Using modern technology can boost farmers’ profits, by cutting costs and increasing yields, and should also benefit consumers (meaning everyone who eats food) in the form of lower prices. In the longer run, though, it may help provide the answer to an increasingly urgent question: how can the world be fed in future without putting irreparable strain on the Earth’s soils and oceans? Between now and 2050 the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, from 7.3 billion now. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because by then most are likely to have middling incomes, and many will be well off.
Quote from the article:
“…The firms that make the LEDs could also be on to a good thing. Mr Dring’s come from Valoya, a Finnish firm. In Sweden, Heliospectra is in the same business. Philips, a Dutch electrical giant, has also joined in. In conventional greenhouses such lights are used to supplement the sun, but increasingly they do duty in windowless operations like Mr Dring’s. Though unlike sunlight they do not come free, they are so efficient and long-lasting that their spectral advantages seem clinching (see chart).
This kind of farming does not have to take place underground. Operations like Mr Dring’s are cropping up in buildings on the surface as well. Old meatpacking plants, factories and warehouses the world over are being turned into “vertical farms”. Though they are never going to fill the whole world’s bellies, they are more than a fad. Rather, they are a modern version of the market gardens that once flourished on the edge of cities —in places just like Clapham—before the land they occupied was swallowed by urban sprawl. And with their precise control of inputs, and thus outputs (see Brain scan, below), they also represent the ultimate in what farming could become.”