As climate change drives new and damaging weather patterns around the globe, we humans need to use our creativity and ingenuity to adapt. We are also faced with an exploding population that is creating the need for more food and water, just as the effects of climate change are making our resources more scarce. The clock is ticking, and the day is quickly approaching when we pass the point of no return.
The need for urban farming is more important than ever, but it comes with it’s own unique challenges. Sometimes the soil is far too polluted to grow food, and retrofitting existing buildings for vertical farming is expensive and labor intensive.
In Peru, the rivers that are used for irrigation are highly polluted with arsenic, lead or cadmium content. This ends up in the soil, where it leaches into the crops. To eliminate poisoning the population with heavy metals and other toxins, hydroponic technology looks like it could be the most viable option for growing safe and organic food locally.
In Lima, Peru, some students at Lima’s University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) are experimenting with a creative solution. A few years back some students at UTEC had created a billboard that harvested clean water as a solution to their growing water shortages. That billboard would draw the humidity right out of the air and filter down to ground level for human consumption. The water was clean and pure, ready for the drinking. Of course, the billboard obviously served as the perfect advertisement for UTEC while it provided water for the residents.
After that success, they have now realized they can possibly solve more than one problem with this technology…so they decided to use the billboard to grow food. Lots of food. With the drip irrigation system they have in place, they have been effectively growing thousands of heads of lettuce per week. This is all still in the experimental stage, so they have been giving away the lettuce to residents free of charge. There is a real opportunity to scale this technology up and roll it out to other areas around the globe struggling with food and water shortages.
One simple billboard isn’t going to change the world, but this way of thinking will. Using our ingenuity to solve the terrible problems that our modern society has created is now top priority if we want to survive in a clean, healthy and sustainable world.