Thursday 20 July 2017
Patents are a virtue: indoor farming with disco lights, fish, and household cabinets
Indoor farming is fast becoming more and more popular as food is being successfully grown indoors. This process can be a space-saver and provides a healthy option as less pesticides are needed which is better for us and our environment.
Pink light feeds hungry plants
Plants grown indoors need a great deal of artificial light to survive and thrive. In the late 1980s, NASA was researching ways to grow plants in space and started using LED lights to provide the required light to grow plants in indoor farms.
Patent application US 20120161170, issued to GE Lighting Solutions, is part of a movement which utilises pink LED lighting, created by mixing red and blue light, to optimise plant growth. This patent application suggests that the pink LEDs can be tailored to a plant’s specific growth needs.
Pink lights will likely fuel increased indoor farm developments as they provide a more sustainable option for indoor farmers than their white light counterparts. By using the pink LEDs, energy will be saved as the plants can grow faster with less light. An added benefit is that they provide more comfortable lighting for the people working in the farms.
So these lights, which look like they belong in nightclubs, are actually feeding the plants, which in turn feed us.
Indoor fish farming
When you think of indoor farming you probably think about growing plants which produce herbs, vegetables and fruit. But what about fish?
Inslee Glenn E has successfully obtained a patent, US 5046451, for an indoor fish farm and hydroponic greenhouse.
The fish farm and greenhouse are reliant on each other. A key feature is that water is recirculated between the fish tank and the plants. The fish produce waste which become nutrients for the plants in the greenhouse. The plants return the favour by filtering the water for the fish. This invention saves water as it is constantly being recycled and reused.
The fish farm is made up of different compartments for different growth stages. As the fish grow, they are herded to the next compartment which is larger. A new batch of fish is then introduced into the smaller compartment. Finally, when the fish are ready for harvesting, they will be transferred to a holding tank.
This system is able to produce a constant supply of fresh fish, herbs, fruit, and vegetables year round. A pescatarian’s dream!
It doesn’t get fresher than household farming
Have you ever wanted a refrigerator which restocks itself? Well, this household vertical farm cabinet is a step in the right direction.
Patent application CN 201510678970, issued to Shenzhen Qishu Technology Co Ltd, reveals a cabinet which allows vegetables to grow inside your own home. With specific control systems, seedlings can grow into edible vegetables and become part of your next meal.
The cabinet has LED lamps and air channels for air circulation to carefully control the environment and allow for photosynthesis. The cabinet is separated into different zones where the plants will flourish depending on what stage they are at. There is a nursery zone, growth zone and finally a ripening zone.
So next time you run out of your leafy greens or you find them wilted and rotting in the bottom of your fridge drawer, rest assured, household farms may be coming to a store near you soon.