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The Daily Bale
Natasha Post, Author
When asked to picture a farm, most people think of the stereotypical farm: large herds, sweeping pastures, and traditional animals such as cattle, sheep, egg-laying chickens, broiler chickens, and pigs. A few of the more unusual farming methods becoming more common in the U.S. are:
- Modular farming
1 - Vertical Farming
Vertical farming may initially seem a strange concept, but it’s an ingenious method of farming used to produce food where spare land is unavailable or rare. Challenging environments such as deserts, mountainsides, and urban areas where space is at a premium all benefit from the skyscraper-like designs associated with vertical farming methods. Indeed, the vertical farming market is projected to be worth $3 billion in the U.S. by 2024, to meet the need for sustainable agriculture that not only reduces the impact on its surrounding environment but speeds up the supply chain to meet demand quicker.
Vertical farming often uses automation, from harvesting robots and automatic seed planters to greenhouse washers that reduce operating costs. Everything from seeding to packaging can be automated, partly why this unusual farming method is gaining a lot of traction in the United States. With kitchen gardens and on-site farming initiatives often used at resorts, gastropubs, and communities, vertical farming has become much more common. It can be done in areas with limited space and soil and can grow a diverse range of fruits and vegetables in stacked formations. Tractor Transport is available to transport all your vertical farming equipment.
2 - Hydroponics
Hydroponics is predominantly used in vertical farming projects, but can also be utilized separately. Rather than relying on nutrients held in the soil, hydroponics depends on nutrient-rich water solutions. Plant roots are submerged in nutrient-rich solutions that are continually monitored and frequently circulated to ensure the correct chemical composition is maintained at all times. As an indoor growing mechanism, hydroponic farming offers an exceptional level of control over nutrient supply, light, water, temperature, and other environmental factors, such as humidity, to optimize the yield produced. Like vertical farming, hydroponics can work in a limited amount of space. Many indoor hydroponics growing techniques involve:
Nutrient film technique
LED grow lights
Ebb and flow
Deep water culture
3 - Aeroponics
Innovations in aeroponic farming were made by NASA during the 1990s when the agency was looking for efficient farming techniques that could be used t grow plants in space. The term aeroponics was coined to describe the method of growing plants in an environment where there is no soil and very little water. While aeroponics is sometimes used in vertical farming, this unusual farming method has yet to gain traction in the wider farming community, despite the fact it’s the most efficient vertical farming method that uses 90% less water than the most efficient hydroponics system described above.
Research has also indicated that plants grown using an aeroponics system uptake more essential vitamins and minerals, potentially making them more nutritious and healthier than the average crop.
4 - Modular Farming
Modular farming, also referred to as container farming, often utilizes shipping container-style environments to produce various plants. It is an entirely indoor farming method that can grow fresh plants even in the harshest climates. Often, modular farming containers are custom-built to required specifications and can be scaled up as needed by adding additional container modules. Modular farming is often paired with growing techniques such as vertical farming, aquaponics, and aeroponics systems.
5 - Spider-Goat Farming
A list of the most unusual farming methods available in the U.S. wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the work that Utah State University is doing with its dairy goat farm. While it might look like your run-of-the-mill dairy farm, the milk produced by the genetically engineered goats here actually contains proteins produced by golden orb spiders.
You may already know that spiders make one of the strongest materials present on earth, but farming spider silk in large quantities is exceptionally challenging. Researchers at Utah State University turned to the familiar farmyard animal for help, modifying the DNA of their goat herd to include the genes of a golden orb spider. The result is that the goats here produce milk infused with the spider silk protein, which can then be extracted and utilized to make fishing lines, body armor, artificial tendons, artificial ligaments, and much more