Jodie Clarke explores innovative projects that use unusual spaces and intriguing technologies to farm fresh produce for urban populations.
Urban centres are expanding across the globe. Today, half of the world’s population live in urban environments, and by 2050 this figure will rise to 70%.
In countries such as China and India, this process is unfolding at an exceptional rate, with skyscrapers and highways appearing where farms and fields existed only a decade ago.
Continue reading Vertical farming and friends
The SEAT project is aiming for major gains in fish and shellfish farming, says Dave Little.
Feeding people requires a lot of energy. Production, distribution and consumption of food accounts for 20-25% of the energy consumption in developed countries. The largest energy investments are made in the production of protein-rich produce, such as meat and fish. In beef production (PDF), for example, energy used (per kilo of whole animal produced) ranges from 38-48 MJ/kg-1 compared to meat derived from pigs at 16-18MJ/kg-1.
Continue reading Aquaculture, protein production and efficiency
A think-tank suggests that all fishing in Europe should cease to let stocks recover. Credible plan or silly talk? Stefano Mariani tests the bait.
Would a complete ban on all fishing in Europe for up to nine years be an effective way to replenish fishing grounds?
That’s the conclusion of the report ‘No Catch Investment’ from the UK-based think tank New Economics Foundation (NEF) that looked at 54 northeast Atlantic fish stocks, 49 of which are overfished. They say that halting current overexploitation would allow fish stocks the time to recover. And that the long-term increase in their monetary value as populations bounce back (£14.63Bn per year) will offset the short-terms costs (£10.4Bn) of not fishing (compensating fisherman etc.) which they suggest should be paid for by the private sector – the people who will make the estimated £4Bn profit later – not the public purse.
Continue reading Should we stop fishing?
Harvesting plants from the sea is an essential part of successful marine agronomy, says John Forster.
Aquaculture has been the subject of two recent high profile reports. The first, entitled Blue Frontiers, begins by asserting ‘There is a pressing need to elevate the debate on the future of aquaculture and to place this in the context of other animal food production systems, including wild capture fisheries’. The second report made the front cover of Time Magazine and poses the question ‘Can farming save the last wild food?’
Both reports make important points. Between 1970 and 2008, global aquaculture production grew (PDF) at an average rate of 8.4% per year, and aquaculture remains one of the fastest growing food producing sectors measured in terms of year-on-year percentage gain. Furthermore, because the world’s fisheries are yielding all they can, there is simply no option but to farm seafood if growing human demand for animal protein is to be met.
Continue reading Elevating the aquaculture debate
It’s time to make more productive use of the sea, says John Forster.
What should we expect from marine aquaculture in the future? Will it serve simply to top up supplies of fish and shellfish from capture fisheries, as it does now and as is mostly assumed, or does it promise something more?
There will be around 9.1 billion people on Earth by 2050 and traditional farming might not be able to produce enough food for them. Limited fresh water and arable land will constrain agricultural growth, while growing affluence in developing countries will add to the challenge as people eat more meat or turn food crops into biofuel. Therefore, ‘Will the oceans feed humanity?’ (PDF)
Continue reading Towards a marine agronomy