Sky farming is a novel idea that won’t work
Construction, lighting, and heating costs make it outrageously expensive. Traditional farming, on the other hand, has made technological advances that make it ever more competitive and efficient.
By Dennis Avery
Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT)
Oct 21, 2010
The proposed Sky-Farm was to produce fruit, vegetables, pigs and chickens. However, you couldn’t grow enough feed in greenhouse conditions to support more than a few pigs or chickens, so you’d have to import most of their feed. Think about four pounds of grain for each pound of pork you harvest. Would it really be less expensive to ship millions of tons of grain into downtown New York than to truck in some pork chops?
I wonder how New Yorkers would feel about having mid-town slaughterhouses. Would there be the irony of trucking in grain to raise chickens and hogs in mid-town, trucking the creatures out of town to be slaughtered and processed, then trucking the meat back into town—all to save fuel?
The real irony is that transportation takes only about 3 percent of the energy used in providing our food. Diesel trains and ships are marvelously energy-efficient. Even a well-laden diesel truck doesn’t use much more fuel than four autos.
Be thankful the farmers themselves have better alternatives. Computer-controlled center-pivot irrigation is one of the solutions, using half as much water and half as much electricity for pumping—and paying back its costs in five years.