Use less land and water, grow more local food – Dakota Free Press

Here’s another next big thing for South Dakota to consider:

We’ve turned most of our grassland into fenced-in food factories… so why not turn old factories into farms? fifth season grows real food for real people in a former steel mill in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a decimated borough outside Pittsburgh (literally: the population is a tenth of what it once was) by the collapse of the steel industry.

Vertical farming won’t devastate Braddock with pollution on the way the steel industry has made, said co-founder Austin Webb:

“We don’t use herbicides or pesticides,” Webb says. “And that’s because we have hermetically sealed environments.” The possibility of contamination is virtually eliminated. Fifth Season recently received a perfect rating from the Safe Quality Food (SQF) program, an independent international body that certifies food safety management. “The second time in 25 years they gave 100%,” he says [David Kidd, “Robots Take Vertical Farming to New Heights,” Governing, 2021.06.28].

Nor does vertical farming require a grower to stockpile two or three square miles of land, drain the river to irrigate it, and dump tons of fertilizer to keep the depleted soil alive:

Fifth Season uses up to 95% less water and 98% less land than conventional agriculture. Water from the municipal system is filtered and proprietary nutrients are added before it reaches the plants directly through their roots. “That means you can replicate any form of soil environment,” he says. Water that is not used by plants is removed and recirculated, with nutrients added as needed. A peat mix is ​​used to support the roots, but all the nutrients are in the water, not the “soil” [Kidd, 2021.06.28].

Vertical farming means residents of Braddock and the Pittsburgh area can access fresher, locally grown greens:

Localized food production means less waste and waste. “If it takes five to eight days to get from California to Pittsburgh, you just lost five to eight days of shelf life,” says Austin Webb. Most of what Fifth Season produces is consumed in the Pittsburgh area. “The day after his cut, not 10 days later.” Their ready-to-eat salads can be bought from a local supermarket chain or delivered directly to the consumer at home, a direct response to the pandemic. Local restaurants, hospitals and universities are also customers [Kidd, 2021.06.28].

Hmmm…farms that could produce good local food without the need for federal grants and crop insurance. This production model would seriously disrupt the Noem-Arnold family’s social enterprise model, but it could bring significant improvement to South Dakota’s economy and environment.