Tag: Aquatic Plants

5 Innovative Ways to Make Urban Farming More Sustainable

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Urban farms are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world. Creative farming models are now being cultivated in a diverse range of urban spaces, from rooftops to within tall, enclosed buildings. These innovative growing methods prioritize sustainability, which plays a key role in making sure that our urban creations have the least negative impact on the environment. Here are 5 ways to maximize sustainability in your urban farm.

Rooftop Farming

One literally ‘top’ trend in urban agriculture is rooftop farming. This method makes clever use of an urban space that is typically unused and has been praised for its positive environmental impact. Rooftop farms provide extra insulation for buildings, lower temperatures in summer and maintain heat in the winter. These factors translate to less use of heating and cooling systems, which saves significant amounts of energy and money.

Plants grown on rooftops capture moisture in the air, which means that rooftop farms also help reduce the storm water flow that can pollute waterways and overwhelm sewage treatment facilities.

Vertical farming

Vertical farms produce crops in vertical layers in a controlled environment. Most vertical farms are created with tall enclosed structures, using height to maximize growth. This innovative approach to urban farming can help to maintain crop production all year round, without relying on favorable weather conditions, soil fertility, or excessive water use.

Establishing vertical farms in urban areas can ultimately help to create a more sustainable environment by contributing to less abandoned buildings, a cleaner atmosphere, better water conservation, and a positive impact on the health of the surrounding communities.

Shipping Container Farming

Recently, using shipping containers as urban farms has become increasingly popular. There is an abundance of shipping containers that are left unused every year, free to be used as indoor farms. These steel structures are durable, versatile, portable and stackable: ready to be placed as a container farm on any site with a strong, level surface.

The versatility of shipping containers provides a range of opportunities to create an enclosed ‘farm’ in any location, from your backyard to corporate campuses. Compared to traditional fixed structures, container farms can be set up in a relatively short period of time.

Using Hydroponic Systems

Innovative new growing techniques have played a key role in the sustainability of urban farming. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants without soil, a technique commonly used in vertical farming. This method has been shown to have some environmental benefits.

The controlled and closed environment of hydroponic systems usually eliminates the need for pesticides, meaning less poisonous chemicals on the food and plants grown. Hydroponic systems can also recycle water and nutrients, putting less strain on water systems. This sustainable style of growing has become a top choice for many large-scale greenhouses.

Using Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is one of the most sustainable methods of urban agriculture. Simply put, this method combines traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. Many farmers have embraced this method to become more environmentally responsible and promote good health within their local communities.

Aquaponic systems can grow many types of food without consuming too many resources. Only a few pieces of equipment in this method actually require power – and in most systems, the water is circulated rather than disposed of after use. Using this style of indoor urban farming, you can ultimately grow more food while using less water, labor and land.

The Importance of Aquatic Plant Management

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Whether you’re maintaining an indoor aquarium, a small pond at home, or you plan to improve the condition of a local lake, proper aquatic plant management is vital for a number of reasons. While it’s true that aquatic plants can contribute to a thriving, healthy ecosystem, invasive species can cause long-term environmental problems, such as the five issues below.

  1. Resource Competition

Non-native, fast growing aquatic plants often use valuable natural resources required by local ecosystems. Aquatic plants may not cause problems in small numbers, but if they continue to reproduce exponentially, plants and fish that miss out on resources they need to thrive are eventually vanquished. Some plants are even poisonous to local wildlife. Promote a biologically balanced aquatic environment by managing aggressive plants before they get out of hand.

  1. Recreation

Lakes, rivers, and ponds provide endless entertainment, from boating, to swimming, to fishing. But these activities can be hindered by excessive aquatic plant growth. Left unattended, beautiful bodies of crystalline water can quickly transform into murky bogs that are far from appealing for fun water activities. Consistent, ongoing plant management ensures that future generations get to enjoy a body of water that isn’t choked by the overgrowth of vegetation.

  1. Safety

Invasive aquatic plants can cause serious structural problems in buildings and equipment that are easy to overlook. Because many invasive plants grow densely under the surface of the water, it’s easy to ignore a growing, potential catastrophe. For example, if flooding of a body of water occurs, excessive plant growth could inhibit flood control procedures.

Additionally, plant growth can threaten local infrastructures in a number of ways. Invasive plants may provide a suitable habitat for harmful invasive wildlife, such as termites, ants, and rodents. Many types of local transportation systems, power systems, water systems, and other important infrastructures have direct contact with waterways, and some types of plants can clog or erode equipment, leading to immediate operating problems and long-term maintenance issues.

  1. Aesthetics

Large bodies of water are often popular attractions where people go to enjoy a slice of nature. From photographers and bird watchers to joggers and ecotourists, people love spending time surrounded by natural beauty. Invasive plant growth may start off invisible to the human eye, but it eventually it manifests in ways that are undesirable. Besides looking unappealing, excessive plant growth can also cause unpleasant odors that discourage water-related recreation.

  1. The Law

Even if you aren’t convinced that managing aquatic plant growth is crucial, you may need to manage it because it’s required by law. While the rules and regulations vary by location, most wildlife conservation commissions enact strict ordinances to ensure the prolonged health of water bodies. Check with your local government, so you can be sure that your body of water is compliant.

Aquatic Plant Management Methods

These days, there are plenty of physical, biological, and chemical ways to keep aquatic plant growth at bay. You can prevent invasive species from growing in the first place by identifying the source of the growth and eliminating it. For example, soil erosion can introduce new plants into an ecosystem, so taking steps to prevent erosion naturally halts new plant growth.

In some cases, you may need to eradicate an existing infestation. You can accomplish this by manually removing the entire plants (including root systems), deepening the pond, manipulating water levels, and/or installing bottom liners.

Introducing a new species that preys on the plants can also minimize growth, or you can use biological or chemical products. Just be sure to use a product whose ingredients haven’t been banned or regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Another option is to pour non-staining, food grade aquatic dyes into the water to prevent sunlight from reaching underwater plants that grow deep in the water. The dye essentially prevents invasive, low growing plants from being able to perform photosynthesis.

Take Action Today

Invasive aquatic plant growth is a problem that usually doesn’t go away on its own, and it tends to worsen with time. Eco-friendly treatments are readily available and highly effective. Spend some time researching your best option, so you can make the first try the only try. Check your local rules and regulations, and, when in doubt, request assistance from a professional aquatic plant control specialist.

About the Author
Alfonso Gonzalez is a freelance writer based in Malibu, California. He spent 25 years in the construction industry, working roofing, plumbing, electrical, and more before retiring. In his free time, he enjoys maintaining an aquarium with fast growing aquatic plants and working on home repair projects.

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