New Stories From 'Urban Agriculture Notes'
Random header image... Refresh for more!

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.

Read the complete article here.


1 Paul de Graaf { 10.26.10 at 1:42 pm }

As much as I have doubts about the idea of skyscrapers built for the single purpose of growing food, I don’t think industrial lobbyist Dennis Avery is a likely source for a fair assesment of its potential (or for any correct statistics, for that matter).

2 Colie { 11.02.10 at 7:39 am }

Yes, I agree. It would be great if City Farmer could disclose the affiliations of the authors whose articles are posted, so that readers understand the possible angles and objectives at play (especially when the authors are proponents of pesticide use and believe that organic produce is more dangerous than conventional) . Thanks for highlighting this, Paul.