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Leveraging Agricultural Technology and Automation to Address World Hunger

We propose a closed-loop food growing system that utilizes a combination of aquaponics, renewable energy generation, and biofuel production.

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Explain your idea

Food and energy production is one of the greatest challenges that we face in the world today, and also in the future. The increase in human population and the problem of human hunger is an agricultural challenge that we must address, especially since the total area of arable and potentially arable land on planet Earth remains fixed, while populations continue to grow. Technology and increased crop intensity has alleviated some world hunger problems so far, but new technology and approaches will be necessary to address the world’s future food needs. New food growing technology will need to address problems in several key ways: 1) agricultural output per area of land must be increased. 2) Approaches to use formerly non-arable land (deserts, tundra, mountains, urban areas, etc.) for food production must be explored. 3) Food production systems should be energy sustainable, generate no waste, and use less fresh water than traditional agriculture. 4) Production should be carbon-neutral or negative. 5) Agricultural practices should avoid the use of environmentally damaging pesticides, herbicides, and non-organic fertilizers. As a solution to the world’s food production problems, we propose a closed-loop food-growing system, that utilizes a combination of aquaponics, renewable energy generation, and biofuel production. Our ultimate goal is to develop a self-contained unit whose only input will be sunlight, air, water, and wind, and whose output will be vegetables, fish, and biofuels in a green and ecologically sustainable operation. The system will utilize sensors, computers, and mechanical automation to minimize human labor, and maximize efficiency and productive output. The closed-loop nature of the system will conserve valuable resources like water, and the modular design of the system will allow food production to be deployed in non-arable regions of the world. The system will also use solar and wind energy to generate its own electrical power, and will even produce some surplus electricity to further improve quality of life. If the system is used to grow biofuels, this will also improve transportation and access to essential services. The lessons learned and technology developed with this project could potentially be useful for space organizations like NASA and SpaceX, and the knowledge might contribute to food-growing capabilities in the harsh environment of space and the surface of other planets - hence the name of our YouTube channel “TheRealMartian”. Our automated food-growing system is being tested right now in the cold climate of the pacific northwest. The system is being gradually implemented in a series of carefully planned phases. The early stages of our project have already been implemented, and our progress toward the goal of food and energy self-sufficiency can be followed on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd8t8Dq8o

Who Benefits?

Our mission is to provide sustainable food and energy to local communities around the world. In particular, our closed loop system will allow food to be grown by: 1) Communities in regions or climates not suited for traditional agriculture, and where water and electricity may be scarce, 2) humanitarian organizations, disaster-relief organizations, and churches who can use the systems to grow food for the needy, and 3) individuals and homes that desire to live “off the grid”. In order to make our system as unmanned and low-maintenance as possible, it will utilize one of today’s most powerful emerging technologies: automation. Automation will allow users to grow food with relatively little attention and labor compared to traditional agriculture, as the “smart” system will use computers, sensors, timers, and actuators to provide water, heat, light, and nutrients to the vegetables and fish of the aquaponics system at the proper time and in the proper dosage, requiring less labor.

How is your idea unique?

Our closed-loop food growing system addresses many problems at once and provides viable solutions. For instance, while providing hungry communities with food, it will also provide energy in the form of electricity and biofuel. The system will also reduce the use of environmentally harmful pesticides, herbicides, and artificial fertilizer, while simultaneously absorbing carbon dioxide and preserving valuable resources like water. Because of its automation, the system will be able to accomplish these things all with low labor and attention requirements from its human users. In addition to the physical components, we will also supply education and continued support to the users of the food production system. This will be an essential aspect to the program, as education in the proper use of equipment, and providing ongoing technical support to users in developed and developing countries will remain an important challenge.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

G1:1 is a new company and at this time, our greatest needs are financial. We are committed to finishing all five phases of this project, but there is a high up-front cost to the research and the construction of the prototypes. Additional funding would allow us to complete our research in a faster, more timely manner. Additional types of help are also welcome, including but not limited to: 1) Ideas and suggestions for our approach, 2) Technical assistance with the aquaponics, automation, and energy production, 3) Donations of equipment and tools, and finally 4) Spreading the word about our neat idea. Even just subscribing to our YouTube channel and following our progress would be a great help.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Other

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