Engineering

Engineers grow salat and tomatos in the high-rise building

Salad grow tomatoes in the second on the fifth floor. Cucumber and herbs thrive in the third floor: as engineers of the German Center for Aerospace imagine the Agriculture of the future. Fields provide city dwellers with fresh vegetables in high-rise buildings. And astronauts on Mars.In the current Hollywood science fiction “The Martian” by Ridley Scott you can watch amazed, as the hero of Mark Watney stranded on Mars raises potatoes in his mission station to survive until the rescue on the red planet. In fact research engineers of the German Center for air and space flight (DLR German Aerospace Center) in the research group Eden special greenhouse modules for planetary habitats on the Moon and Mars. These modules then produce the food for the astronauts during future long-term missions.

Engineers grow salat and tomatos in the high-rise building
Cultivation of salat in nutrient solution in the Bremen laboratory. Such cultivation methods to provide astronauts on long-term missions in the future with fresh vegetables.

Salad (630,000 kg per year)

However, these modules can be useful on Earth already. The DLR has developed high building 30 m together with international partners for inner cities, in which vegetables should be bred.

Each of these buildings with a floor space of 35 x 74 m has five floors, which are each 6 m high. Four are intended for growing, lowest for offices, cold stores and logistics. Annually, 95,000 kg tomatoes or salad could be bred per floor 630,000 kg, the DLR (German Aerospace Center) engineers have figured out.

“We would breed plants under well controlled and optimal conditions in our production factory”, says Conrad Zeidler of the DLR Institute of space systems. “While our salad or our tomato taste does not differ from the food, how it today in supermarkets buying.”

Cultivation without pests and pesticides

The plants grow in a mixture of water and nutrients – Earth is not necessary. The whole system is locked down so that pests and weeds have no chance to penetrate. As a result, herbicides and pesticides are not needed. Even organic farmers can hardly do it.

The plants grow in several tiers one above the other. Light-emitting diodes provide them with exactly the amount of light they need. The water, where they grow, is led in the circuit and always prepared. The necessary technology and the tanks are in the core of the building, as well the lifts that bring the harvest in the Logistics Centre on the ground floor.

Cultivation method for drylands

Already in Eden lab Bremen, engineers and agricultural test automated plant cultivation. Laboratories of its kind on long space missions, about flights to Mars, shall ensure that the crew has enough food.

The vertical farming, as the DLR German Aerospace Center calls the urban cultivation method, is a special form. The DLR engineers can also imagine, to build such farms in dry areas. Because little water is namely that the plants store, lost, replenishment can be more easily realized as irrigation, which requires a multiple of water.

Floating greenhouses for Singapore

Singapore hi-rise building plantation
Skyscrapers of the architectural firm forward thinking architecture: they are shaped so that each floor is optimally supplied with sunlight. Photo: Forward Thinking Architecture

A similar concept followed the architectural firm forward thinking architecture. It wants to build floating skyscrapers for plant breeding in Singapore, because the small country has little arable land.