Written by Ariel Kagan and Jenna Riemenschneider
When you hear the term “hydroponic,” do you first think of basement marijuana growers or boutique microgreens destined to garnish a cafe’s offering of avocado toast?
Instead, what you should be thinking of is feeding the planet and conserving natural resources.
We face a number of challenges as an increasingly global and complex food system struggles to feed an ever-growing population with an ever-growing appetite for more resource-intensive food. This increased demand is spurred by both population growth and rising incomes, with the majority of that growth in demand occurring in South Asia and Africa.
Meanwhile, one-third of arable land has become unproductive around the world due to erosion, desertification, salinization, and urbanization. Climate change adds additional challenges, and neither the expected increases in crop productivity, nor the expansion of agriculture into marginal lands, come close to the increase in food production that will soon be needed. This is why food grown without soil should be seen as a critical contributor to food security, expanding our agricultural production beyond the limits of diminishing arable land.
This is where hydroponics — and related technologies — come in.