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Robotic hydroponic farm unveiled

Image: Iron Ox Media Assets, Transplanter hero

California agritech startup Iron Ox has unveiled an “autonomous farm”, where robots move plants and transplant them from one stage to the next. Artificial intelligence controls pests and diseases and adjusts growing conditions. The farm is not entirely automated, as humans still sow seedlings and package the harvested crops. The farm produces leafy greens and herbs.

Iron Ox claims that its hydroponic growing system uses 90% less water than traditional farming and produces 30 times more food per unit of land. Iron Ox had originally planned to light the farm entirely with LEDs but found that electricity bills were too expensive. In the future, the company plans to use traditional greenhouses supplemented with LEDs. A video of the farm in action shows that the plants are grown in a single layer - so this farm is not an example of “vertical farming”.

Read the full story here. See also the Foodsource resource How far could changes in production practices reduce GHG emissions?

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North America

North America is the northern subcontinent of the Americas covering about 16.5% of the Earth's land area. This large continent has a range of climates spanning Greenland’s permanent ice sheet and the dry deserts of Arizona. Both Canada and the USA are major food producers and some of the largest food exporters in the world. Industrial farms are the norm in North America, with high yields relative to other regions and only 2% of the population involved in agriculture.

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