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Since 2011, Chicago’s O’Hare airport has been home to an aeroponic garden, where people can see how vegetables can be grown in an environment that is not only without soil but even without any permanent medium in which to grow.
Aeroponics for Vertical Gardens – feeding tomorrow’s world?
Không phải thủy canh hay thổ canh, mà là ‘khí canh’, nuôi ăn thế giới mai sau?
If our world is to survive for much longer, we have no choice but to reduce the use of natural resources and cut out wastage. Compared to traditional agriculture, aeroponics does both.
*Vietnamese Speaker Nguyen Anh Khoa, Ho Chi Minh City:
The world’s population is expected to continue growing until the end of the twenty-first century; that at least was the general consensus of experts until 2019. Maybe in the new post-Covid reality, the rate of growth will slow; but even so, unless Covid-19 or some other new virus causes millions more deaths than initially predicted, the world’s population will continue to grow, putting ever-increasing pressure on the natural environment, on resources, on living space, and most critically on food and water. Aeroponics will be part of the solution.
According to a United Nations FAO report published in 2011, almost half of the fruit and vegetables produced in the world go to waste – they never get consumed by the humans for whom they are grown.
Wastage occurs throughout the production and distribution cycle, during production, during transformation, during transport, and even – notably in developed economies – after purchase by the final customer.
Fifty percent of all fruit and vegetables going to waste, that is an enormous amount of wastage, and not just in economic terms. This wastage has a huge impact in terms of natural resources, particularly space and water, which in turn have huge implications for the global environment.
Cutting out all waste in the production and distribution of food is an impossible goal. Even people living in small eco-sustainable communities generate waste. Even in organic crop production, pests and disease cause wastage; and even if harvested and distributed locally, part of a crop will always be wasted.
But there is a large difference between wasting fifty percent of all fruit and vegetables produced worldwide, and the unreachable goal of achieving no waste at all. Between 50% and zero, there is plenty of scope for significantly reducing the volume of food waste worldwide simply through the use of new more efficient production methods.
Studies have shown that packaging and distribution systems account for about 25% of total wastage of fresh fruit and vegetables, leaving plenty of opportunity for improvement. In an ideal world, and as in the past, much of the food consumed in cities would be produced locally, not shipped thousands of miles as happens today.
In 1998, the US Department of Agriculture released a study into fruit and vegetables arriving at the Chicago Terminal Market, the main point of distribution for the American Middle West. The report showed that basic vegetables including lettuce, broccoli, peas or cauliflowers all traveled over 2000 miles (over 3000 km) before reaching the market... and before being shipped on to supermarkets across the region. Yet Chicago is in the heart of a massive agricultural area. Granted it can get pretty cold in winter, but with modern agricultural techniques, the Midwest could be self-sufficient for many types of fruit and vegetables, cutting out the massive environmental cost of shipping tons of vegetables half way across a continent.
Since 2011, Chicago’s O’Hare airport has been home to an aeroponic garden, where people can see how vegetables can be grown in an environment that is not only without soil but even without any permanent medium in which to grow. In this experimental garden, plants are grown, as the name suggests,... in the air, their roots hanging down in nothing.
Hydroponics, growing plants in troughs of nutrient-rich water, has been developing since the 1970’s. Aeroponics takes things one step further, by removing the water and replacing it with air. Not just air, obviously; while plants are grown with roots hanging in the air, these roots are regularly sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution that gives them just what they need for optimum growth. It’s very high-tech, it’s not cheap, and it’s a long way from currently popular organic farming techniques. Yet in many ways, aeroponics is actually more environment-friendly than even the most strictly managed traditional organic farming methods. And it’s down to one factor: waste.
Traditional farming is wasteful; modern intensive agriculture relies on large inputs of external resources, notably heat, water and nutrients. The vast amounts of water used by agriculture are already causing serious problems in many parts of the world; beneath California’s San Joaquim Valley, the world’s most productive agricultural area, water tables have been dropping for almost a century, and scientists estimate that the land... not the water table below it... has sunk by over 8 metres in some parts. NASA calculates that Southern California had a “water deficit” of 4.2 gigatons per year from 2002 to 2015.
Aeroponic agriculture reduces water waste to zero. The only water used is what is actually taken up by the roots of plants when they are sprayed. Any water not used can be collected and reused.
The same goes for nutrients; in traditional agriculture, plants only extract a small proportion of nutrients from the ground, and good ground will have many nutrients in it that will not be used at all by the crops grown on it. In an age of diminishing natural resources, traditional agriculture uses millions of tons of chemical fertilizer each year, much of which goes to waste. In Brittany, France, many streams and beaches have been seriously polluted by nutrient-rich water running off fields, causing “algal bloom” along the seashore and covering some beaches in green slime. With aeroponic agriculture, no nutrients are lost, so there is no risk of unintended pollution.
One big advantage of traditional agriculture is that it almost always uses natural heat and light, even if under glass or plastic. Aeroponic agriculture, by contrast, may require artificial heat and light, specially if practised indoors. But with the development of small-scale locally-sited renewable energy production, and highly energy-efficient buildings and lighting systems, large-scale indoor aeroponic vegetable growing units are liable to be a feature of tomorrow’s cities.
If all the lettuces consumed in Chicago in winter could be grown locally, in carbon-neutral zero-waste aeroponic “farms”, instead of being brought in by truck from California, that in itself would lead to a huge reduction in the use of water, minerals, land-space and transportation costs. Reproduced on a global scale, reduced use of natural resources will be vital for ensuring a sustainable future for generations to come, even when the global population goes above 10 billion.
1. Explanation of Words:
- general consensus: majority agreement, accord (đa số đồng ý là)
- rate of growth: speed of thrive or development (tốc độ sinh trưởng)
- initially predicted: originally forecast (như dự đoán ban đầu)
- FAO: Food and Agriculture Organisation (Tổ chức Lương nông Liên Hiệp Quốc)
- after purchase: after being sold or bought (hậu mãi)
- in turn: then, next in reaction or order (đến lượt, đến phiên)
- huge implications: severe consequences (hệ quả nghiêm trọng)
- eco-sustainable: ecologically renewable (bền vững về sinh thái), able to continue permanently and in an environmentally friendly manner
- pests: insects and animals that cause damage (vật gây hại)
- distributed locally: purchased and consumed by local people (phân phối tiêu thụ tại địa phương)
- plenty of scope: lots of opportunity, high possibility (có nhiều cơ may, dư địa)
- granted that : it is true that... (nếu đúng là…)
- permanent medium: stable substance as a base (nền trung gian ổn định. Ví dụ: đất trồng)
- trough: basin (khay trồng, chậu đất / nước)
- nutrient-rich: with plenty of food for plants (chất dinh dưỡng)
- down to one factor: all because of one factor (chung quy là do một nhân tố)
- gigaton: a billion tonnes (một tỉ tấn)
- algal bloom: proliferation of green vegetation in the water (đợt bùng phát tảo)
- green slime: muck, a wet sticky mess (một thứ nước nhày xanh màu tảo)
- are liable to be: will probably be, likely to be (rất có thể sẽ xảy ra)
- carbon-neutral: producing no carbon footprint (không để lại ô nhiễm các-bon)
2. Word-Grammar Reproduction:
Read this short extract from the article, get the meanings in context, observe the root words and add an appropriate affix to each root word that makes sense.
Cut......... out all waste in the product......... and distribut......... of food is an imposs......... goal. Even people liv......... in small eco-sustain......... commun......... generate waste. Even in organ......... crop product......... pests and disease cause wast......... and even if harvest......... and distribut......... local......... part of a crop will always be wast.........
But there is a large difference between wast......... fifty percent of all fruit and vegetables produc......... world........., and the unreach......... goal of achiev......... no waste at all. Between 50% and zero, there is plenty of scope for signific......... reduc......... the volume of food waste simp......... through the use of new more effic......... product......... methods.
Studies have shown that packag......... and distribut......... systems account for about 25% of total wast......... of fresh fruit and vegetables, leav......... plenty of opportun......... for improve..........
Keys: Cutting out / production / distribution / impossible / living / sustainable / communities / wastage / harvested / distributed / locally / wasted / wasting / production / worldwide / unreachable / achieving / significantly / reducing / simply / efficient / production / packaging / distributing / wastage / leaving / opportunities / improvement
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