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Today we face a multitude of problems that affects billions of humans. Our population which now has topped seven billion and counting is growing at a rate that the Earth cannot sustain. Globally we are plagued by rising percentages of people in poverty, scarcity in the availability of food, a dwindling water supply, and climate changes which are a direct correlation to our expanding numbers. When faced with similar issues in the 1950-60’s leading scientist and farmers developed ideas and procedures which gave rise to the Green Revolution. With the current state of affairs looking bleak, once again it is time for a second green revolution. Two interesting ideas that can solve a lot of the world’s problems are Polyculture Farming and Vertical Farming.
Farming of today is mainly based on the principles of monoculture farming. The central tenet behind monoculture farming is a farmer allocating a particular area of his land for the purpose of growing one specific crop. Polyculture differs from monoculture in the types of crops and the close proximity of the different crops being planted simultaneously. In polyculture farming, a farmer intercrops, by mixing the types of crops planted. The types of crops chosen are based on the crops ability to mutually support each other. According to the research conducted by UC Davis, they concluded that “The flea beetle, Phyllotreta crucifeae, can consume large amounts of collard leaves. In- terplanting beans or allowing weeds to grow with collards can considerably decrease flea beetle densities on the collards and minimize leaf damage.” (Gliessman, 1982) Another example would be the intercropping of Brussel sprouts and Fava Beans. The Brussel sprouts would produce pollen and seeds for insects which helped the Fava beans grow. The other benefits to polyculture farming directly combat issues that affect monoculture farming. “These include soil erosion and degradation, water depletion, and water contamination from fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides,” (Dewar, 2007)
With the recent boom in Human population has created the need for urban living. With vast areas being dedicated to living arrangements, this has created a void in agricultural land. The scarcity of land gave birth to the idea of vertical farming. Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops and raising livestock in skyscrapers or on vertical planes. There are several advantages to vertical farming which include the protection of crops from inclement weather, the controlled environment that will not require the use of pesticides and of course the water that could be saved by utilizing recycled water. Though the initial cost of building such skyscrapers would be enormous, we could maximize the use of vertical space and limit the expansion of our cities.
Polyculture Farming is well underway in tropical environments. Many states are trying polyculture farming in a trial by fire basis. Polyculture agriculture and the concept of vertical farming are two such ideas that can breathe life into a second green revolution.