By: Sundeep Singh
If a farmer has $10, $9 of that will go towards soil care.
Traditional farming methods rely heavily on ideal weather conditions and soil health. When it comes to plant yield, it is important to have the right soil. The goal is to increase the following:
- water retention
- organic matter
Water Use Efficiency And Soil Health
Some strategies traditional farmers use to increase water infiltration, decrease evaporation, and decrease leakage are applying residue cover, conservation tillage, and the incorporation of more soil organic matter. To utilize residue cover, the farmer leaves behind plant matter after harvesting or processing. The plant matter decreases the amount of direct sunlight hitting the soil and in turn, increase the soil's moisture levels by limiting water evaporation. To improve water infiltration, farmers till leftover plant matter from the last growing season into the soil in a practice called conservation tillage. This practice maintains soil structure and complexity allowing water to effectively seep into the earth while also increasing the overall amount of carbon available to the plants. The previous two practices will naturally increase the soil's organic matter but farmers can supplement this by using soil amendments such as livestock manure or compost. By doing this, the soil is able to retain water more effectively.
For greater yields, plants need an ample supply of carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Maximizing carbon organically can take anywhere from 5 to 50 years. This can be done by adding high level biomasses to the soil such as mulch, manure, and biosolids. It is also important to diversify the cropping system to incorporate many different forms of carbon to enhance diversity of soil microorganisms and internal carbon cycling. Conservation tillage, as mentioned above, also helps with carbon content by promoting microbial activity in the long run. This, along with other water conservation techniques, helps prevent the loss of not just carbon but also nitrogen and phosphorous via the prevention of water leakage.
The Ceres Process
Industrial engineering, biosensor, and solar technology allows us to cheaply grow quality organic produce without having to rely on GMOs or pesticides.
As you can see, a lot more work goes into producing the food you eat than you may have realized. With the rate of technological developments, we thought it no longer made sense to grow salad-greens or flowers on arable land that could, instead, grow crops with complex root structures that support larger foods such as melons, grains, and tree crops. Let's put our infertile land to use.
What Does Ceres Do Differently?
- By growing indoors with the use of modern-day technology, we can efficiently distribute light, water, and nutrients to maximize growth and development.
- We rely on automated systems to notify our proprietary software when a plant needs more water, nutrients, or light.
- Less human intervention means lower labor costs. This allows us to sell our produce at affordable rates without having to sacrifice quality and it helps us remain competitive in the long-run.
- Our hydroponics system gets rid of the need for soil, saving us years of hard work trying to increase soil organic matter and water retention. This system also has the added benefit of being able to grow healthy crops anywhere in the world regardless of weather or soil conditions.
- Nutrients are delivered to the roots of our plants through a stream of recycled water. If the plants need more nutrients, we simply increase the mixture in our water and get immediate results. No more need for tillage.
It's the responsible thing to do.
The United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs predicts that the world population will increase by 3 billion by 2050, it is important for us to reconsider our land use. By growing flowers and salad greens indoors, we free up arable land that can now be used to grow intensive crops that need wide open land such as maize.
- Our system allows us to recycle 90% of our water making our food systems sustainable.
- We use a mix of solar and grid energy allowing us the profitability to pave the way to being completely reliant on solar energy.
- By not relying on soil, we are able to set up shop in places that require humanitarian efforts. Most relief efforts are aimed at helping locals in the short-run, Ceres can help locals for years to come by educating locals about our systems and employing them to maintain the vertical farm right there in their own village or town.
- Ceres can sidestep the entire argument of GMOs safety and pesticide use since plants will be grown in a controlled lab environment limiting exposure to diseases and pests.