By Boy de Nijs
Growstones in Bato buckets in a commercial greenhouse trial in 2009 with tomatoes.
Crushed glass has growing media. It may sound a little crazy, yet controlled research trials done by Wageningen University and The University of Arizona/Controlled Environment Agriculure (CEAC) show that plants thrive very well on foamed glass aggregates manufactured for horticulture applications. This is how Growstone, Inc. was born in 2005. The substrate is already available for the hobby grower, but currently Growstone is looking to widen it's reach and transit into the commercial greenhouse market.
At the time the first trials were done by the University of Arizona, Paula Costa was a graduate student at Agriculture & Biosystems Engineering Department. "I was finishing my research project at the CEAC and very quickly got directly involved in setting the first informal greenhouse trials with Growstones crushed foamed glass in the Fall of 2005," says Paula who is now Growstone's R&D Director.
Photograph by Carlos Osorio, AP
Teens at Catherine Ferguson Academy in Detroit learn to grow plants in a greenhouse. The school serves pregnant and parenting teens, and teaches farming and gardening in addition to core subjects.
Photograph by Yuriko Nakao, Reuters
An employee harvests veggies grown inside an office "urban farm" in Tokyo. The Pasona Group, an employment and staffing company, established the growing area to foster a work environment that
Landscape designer Rebecca Cole shares the top reasons (and plenty of motivation) to start a delicious urban farm
By Rebecca Cole
Photograph from ClassicStock/Alamy
In 1943, young people tend a victory garden in New York City. During World War II, Americans were encouraged to grow some of their own food, to offset shortages caused by the conflict.
Photograph by Anthony Behar, Sipa Press/AP
by Green Gotham
With seven billion mouths to feed, human agriculture exerts a tremendous toll on the planet, from water draws to pollution, and from energy use to habitat loss. But there is also a growing set of solutions, from organic agriculture to integrated pest management.
More people around the world are taking a look at urban farming, which offers to make our food as "local" as possible. By growing what we need near where we live, we decrease the "food miles" associated with long-distance transportation. We also get the freshest produce money can buy, and we are encouraged to eat in season.
With climate change wrecking havoc on the world’s crops, it’s time to consider other options. Warehouse farms might be the answer to the global food crisis.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently released their first report in seven years, and like many sequels, it wasn’t good. Beyond melting ice caps and unprecedented heat waves, the news that most shook readers was that "all aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change."
Early proof of this impending disaster is playing out in California where farming-related losses in 2013 are estimated to be $5 billion and 2014 is not on track to be any better. Chipotle noted in a recent investor letter that they might cut back on their signature guacamole because of avocado scarcity. In a wry twist, this news caused much more concern for many Americans than the United Nations Nobel Prize winning team’s research tome of impending doom.
Tech companies that are more familiar to us as gadget and electronics manufacturers are beginning to branch out into indoor farming, applying their tech skills to growing veggies as well.
Over the last few years, we've started to see names such as Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony, Fujitsu, and Sharp pop up in our news feeds, but not necessarily for what you might think. Instead of catching my eye with tidbits about the latest gadget, gizmo, or tech component they've produced, it's the vegetables they're growing that piques my interest.
While I think that most of us who tend to be crunchy and rootsy prefer that our food comes from the soil, and be grown under the sun somewhere nearby (by someone that we might possibly know) with minimal off-farm inputs and chemical treatments (read: organically and sustainably grown), it isn't the reality, or even a possibility, for the majority of the population. As much as I like to grow my own food, and to support small local organic growers, my family and I still depend on the grocery store for many of the things we eat, especially in the off season. And that's true for much of the world's urban population as well, where access to fresh foods can be extremely limited, simply due to lack of local sources.
Under normal growing conditions and irrigation frequency, Growstones leaches out soluble Silicon at an average rate of 5 - 6 ppm per week, accumulating about 45 ppm1 of soluble Silicon in the nutrient solution recirculating system in 8 weeks. During the same period, the average accumulation of soluble Silicon from rockwool is 0.8 ppm1. And as the irrigation frequency increases, so does the leaching rate of Silicon from the surface of Growstones.
This means that with Growstones products, growers can benefit not only from more frequent irrigations with increased growth potential without the risk of root rot, and have tremendous aeration and drainage – growers can also increase soluble Silicon availability to plants with the associated benefits already included, with no extra cost for external Silicon fertilizers.