BlogOctober 12th 2022

Transforming the food system

The way humanity currently produces and transports food contributes to climate change and damages Mother Nature. In fact, agriculture and food production are the primary drivers of biodiversity loss and land degradation. Our approach & technology offer many solutions to the shortcomings of the current food system.

Greenhouse gas emissions

Challenge - The current global food system is responsible for a third of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, largely due to land clearance for agricultural use (clearing forests causes the release of stored carbon into the atmosphere, mainly as carbon dioxide). GHG emissions are also the result of food production, packaging, transportation, and even food waste has a significant GHG footprint: when food ends up in landfills, it generates methane, which is even more potent GHG than carbon.

Solution - Infarm's approach is tackling the GHG emissions challenge in many ways. From growing in urban places and reducing food miles to choosing the least harmful packaging and reducing food waste.

Land use

Challenge - 50% of the world's habitable land has already been converted to agricultural use. But as the world's population grows, we need even more growing space. A lot more. The result? Increased deforestation, land and soil degradation, and a substantial cost to the environment.

Solution - Farming vertically allows us to minimise the space required for growing crops. Our analysis shows that our farming model is up to 100 x more efficient than conventional farming. This has allowed us, within Infarm’s young lifespan, to save more than 200,000 sqm of land.

Water scarcity

Challenge - 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are made for agricultural use. Meanwhile, almost two thirds of the world’s population experience severe water scarcity for at least one month each year. It's an ironic yet devastating reality.

Solution - We use 95% less water than traditional agriculture due to our closed, near-total circular system, which regularly recycles water and recaptures the water evaporated from the plants back into the system.

Chemical pesticides

Challenge - 78% of the global ocean and freshwater pollution is caused by agricultural products such as fertilisers, biocides, herbicides and antibiotics. Such substances adversely affect aquatic ecosystems, for example, by causing toxic algal blooms.

Solution - At infarm, we don't use any form of chemical pesticides. Simple as that!

Biodiversity loss

Challenge - 86% of the 28,000 species at threat of extinction have agriculture listed as a potential contributing factor. The consequences of biodiversity loss are immense: from increasing the negative impacts of resource depletion and climate change to the estimated annual cost of 235–577 billion USD of losing pollinating insects.

Solution - Our impact on biodiversity is inherently positive. We are growing without chemical pesticides and saving enormous amounts of land, freshwater, and GHG related to food miles. In doing so, we tackle biodiversity loss on many fronts. For example, the land we avoid using may be left undisturbed, set aside for conservation, rewilded, or restored.

Vulnerable food system

Challenge - Human-induced climate change has reduced agricultural productivity by 21% since the 1960s. And for every additional degree Celsius of global warming, rice, maize and wheat yield losses are estimated to grow by 10–25%. The current supply chain is also vulnerable to short-term shocks from political, public health and other crises.

Solution - As extreme climatic events become more frequent, building a climate-resilient food system is becoming ever more critical. By localising production and controlling the growing environment, we decouple food production from external forces such as public health crises, climatic shocks etc.