Bioponics, Blog, Education, Environment, Sustainability

Comparing Field Crop Farming vs Closed Loop Bioponics

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Efficiencies of bioponic approach vs. conventional farming

WATER

Conventional: Water used on soil lost to water table. Only small amount is absorbed by roots. Excessive use of water increases reliance on municipal water causing higher sodium and chloride salt buildup, impedes plant growth.

Bioponics: Uses 90% less water than conventional irrigation. Water used is recaptured and continuously recirculated back to plant roots. With modest rainwater capture and storage, municipal water sources eliminated. Water diversion from storm sewage improves municipal treatment process.

Fertilizers and Pesticides

Conventional: Ammonia and nitrogen is manufactured using natural gas, creating greenhouse gasses, health and environmental problems, petro addiction and unsustainable grid dependencies. Phosphate and mineral mining hurts the environment.  Carbon footprint is high for mined and manufactured, plus delivery transportation. Phosphate is a critical element in agriculture that is severely deficient after years of destructive mining. Organic sources can also be labor intensive and if not sourced on-site are subject to fuel costs and impact for manufacture and delivery.

Bioponics: Ammonia and vital farm nutrients are easily extracted from abundantly available waste sources. These include grass and other organic  plant matter, worm teas, fish, chicken and human urine, biochar and milled cottonseed. One can determine input requirements per square foot and per crop by utilizing the Bioponica Food Plant calculator. Green manures in an aerobic digester utilizes nitrogen and phosphorus plus minerals and also sequesters CO2 gas, converting biomass waste to useful biomass duckweed, algae and edible plants. Such an approach reduces fuel dependency and eliminates mining of phosphates and minerals plus associated manufacturing and transportation costs. Soil-less farming also mean no soil-born disease and less need for organic pesticides.

Energy

Conventional:High energy costs related to fuel powered farm machinery, storage, packaging, cooling and distribution. Overproduction to anticipate market demand causes wastefulness on industrial farms.

Bioponics:Assumes more local farming than conventional, eliminates costs associated with storage, packaging, cooling and distribution. Food from harvest direct to market. Low energy water pumps combine with gravity flow dynamics.

Waste and Greenhouse Gasses

Conventional:CO2 from all fuel operations related to transportation and site fuel. CO2 and NO2 release with prolonged atmospheric exposure of discarded foliage. CO2, NO2 and methane from compost piles.

Bioponics:Utilization of grass and organic waste that would otherwise off-gas is instead sequestered. NO2 and CO2 recycled to other body forms that are edible to fish, and aquatic organism. Silage storage, year round grasses grown, sequestering large percentage atmospheric CO2 and NO2 and released under water for bioconversion. Greenhouse plants are able to utilize CO2 given off by fish and bacterial respiration assoc with carbon consumption. Biochar mixed into grow media makes use of non-mined mineral source plus promotes carbon sequestration.

Ecology

Conventional:Environmental degradation associated with municipal water soil salt buildup. Tillage of soil impairs living organisms and releases CO2. Off gasses from organic waste not sequestered into soil. Fuel use harms atmosphere. Low intensity grain and dry grass farming for cattle means that land which could go fallow is becoming over farmed and rendered unusable after some years.   Direct exposure to unpredictable weather is not favorable to farming.  Fertilizer leaches to streams and lakes causing aquatic destruction.

Bioponics:Smaller farming greenhouse structures serving local environment means less CO2 and NO2 into atmosphere. CO2 reused. Less water required, water filtered and reused. All nitrogen, phosphate and minerals remain in closed loop, with minimal loss to atmosphere. No loss to local waterways. Rainwater harvest and use preserves environment. Low energy demand means less CO2 impact from inputs.

Green Jobs

Conventional:Industrial farms are not creating green jobs. Instead they cause migrant worker immigration issues due to low labor, desperate employment situations.

Bioponics:Green jobs are jobs that lift low wage earners income as well as job skills. What society needs are jobs that improve a workers knowledge and ability to increase  value to themselves and others especially  the area of sustainability.

Labor

Conventional:Hauling compost, turning soil, operating heavy machinery, struggling with toxic pesticides and fertilizers is labor that diminishes ones health and wellbeing. Industrial farming is hard on the body.

Bioponics:Waist high tables with soil less beds do not require tilling, weeding, bending, root cleaning. Integrated systems with gravity fed water system are low labor intensive jobs that improve human capital and allow for gainful work by elderly, handicapped and youth.

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About drdave

CoFounder of Algosolar, dba Bioponica. Consultant, designer, developer of Biogarden and Incubator Ecosystems for producing organic food and fish, sustainably.

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