Tag: Nutrients

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.

Greywater Systems for a Greener Home

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There is nothing more important than water when it comes to the sustenance of life on this planet. Yet, 844 million people globally do not have access to clean and safe water. Access to clean and safe water can be termed as the stepping stone towards building a sustainable world. Understanding this global crisis of water, developing and developed countries have shifted their attention towards the possibility of reusing greywater to limit the exploitation of resources. In this article let’s have a quick gaze on “Greywater Systems”, what they are? how does it work? The need for it, and so on.

What is Greywater?

Wastewater from domestic use can be broadly classified into two, viz

  1. Black water: This includes the sewage water from toilets, which cannot be used for any other purpose and has to go into a septic tank or sewage drain.
  2. Greywater: Domestically used water which is not clean to drink but can be used for other purposes after proper treatment is termed as Greywater.

Most of the wastewater from domestic use falls under the category of Greywater, which essentially means we are wasting water which can be used again. In the wake of the 21st-century people have begun realizing the potential of re-using Greywater in building a sustainable world.

Advantages of using Greywater

  • Helps to drastically reduce the need for fresh water

Greywater can be used without any treatment for purposes like watering plants which greatly reduces the quantity of water being diverted from nature and helps in creating an eco-friendly garden. With the cost-effective ways of water treatment, the Greywater can be used for doing laundry, outdoor cleaning, and so on.

  • Reduces the strain on septic tanks/ sewer tanks

Re-using the Greywater obviously reduces the strain on septic tanks/sewer tanks as most water is diverted for uses and ends up recharging the groundwater. On a broad picture reduced quantity of Greywater from individual houses means higher treatment effectiveness and lower costs for municipal water treatment plants.

  • Reclamation of wasted nutrients and plant growth

Greywater contains water from the kitchen which has higher organic contents than the fresh water. Using this water for watering the plants can indirectly be a way to provide nutrients to plants thereby saving the additional cost on manures and fertilizers.

How to use Greywater in your homes?

The major hurdle in using greywater in an existing house lies in the way the plumbing systems have been designed. Majority of the water we use is flushed into the septic tanks or city sewer drains. Which is why a great deal of plumbing modification has to be done in order to use Greywater in an existing house.

The ideal way of Re-using Greywater would be to divert all the drain water into an outdoor Greywater tank and then using it. This system can only be designed while building a new house. On existing houses, the easiest and cost-effective way would be to identify the exterior drain pipes from kitchen, bathtubs and laundry machines. Cut a hole in the pipes and using an elbow joint divert the water to your vegetable gardens or an outdoor Greywater tank.

Is it safe to use Greywater?

The Greywater may look dirty to our eyes as it contains grease, dirt, hair and certain household products. Because Greywater does not come in direct or indirect contact with a toilet or sewer, it contains a 100 times fewer pathogens which makes it safe for reuse. The contents of the Greywater can be valuable fertilizers to your plants.

Basic guidelines for using Greywater

  • Do not store Greywater for more than 24 hours which may lead to the breakdown of the nutrients releasing bad odours
  • Ensure that the Greywater stored in the tanks can soak into the surrounding soil and is unavailable for animals or people to drink.
  • Keep your Greywater systems as simple as possible.
  • Avoid overflowing and runoff of Greywater from the storage tanks.

Conclusion

Implementing Greywater systems at your homes can prove to be the first step towards building a sustainable house. Greywater systems can greatly be of help in reducing the fresh water consumption by re-using.

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Salman Zafar