Design and Testing of a Modified Hydroponic Shipping Container System for Urban Food Production
International Journal of Applied Agricultural Sciences
Volume 4, Issue 4, July 2018, Pages: 93-102
Received: Aug. 7, 2018;
Accepted: Aug. 20, 2018;
Published: Oct. 10, 2018
Views 815 Downloads 93
Rachel Elizabeth Sparks, Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA
Robert Merton Stwalley III, Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA
In urban centers today, Controlled Environment Agriculture is being proposed as a potential alternative to conventional agriculture using hydroponic methods in controlled spaces as a means to increase local food production and improve urban food security by growing crops. One newly proposed technique, growing crops inside refurbished shipping containers, offers a flexible, mobile, and scalable means of year-round food production in a variety of climates. Despite the benefits of producing food locally, some concerns associated with shipping container systems include high-energy consumption from climate control and electric lightning systems, as well as expensive capital investments. This study investigated the viability and effectiveness of shipping container farms as alternative food production systems through an analysis of system energy requirements and resulting crop yields. A Modified Hydroponic Shipping Container system was designed and a Nutrient Film Technique hydroponics system was tested by growing lettuce plants and monitoring energy use throughout the growth period. Theoretical energy use at full scale was quantified for one year of production by modeling energy consumption of major system components through modeling or extension from results on the bench scale. Baseline crop production and overall energy consumption were assessed using a crop production efficiency metric created to evaluate the ratio of system outputs to inputs. Examination of alternative energy scenarios showed potential energy consumption reductions of up to 53 percent and an improvement of the total system crop production efficiency of up to 55 percent from the baseline. Implementation of suggested energy use reduction strategies could allow for the creation of viable and sustainable alternative food systems using shipping containers capable of providing local, accessible foods year-round for a variety of urban communities.
Rachel Elizabeth Sparks,
Robert Merton Stwalley III,
Design and Testing of a Modified Hydroponic Shipping Container System for Urban Food Production, International Journal of Applied Agricultural Sciences.
Vol. 4, No. 4,
2018, pp. 93-102.
United Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs - Population Division. (2015). World urbanization prospects: The 2014 revision. New York: United Nations.
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 70/1. (2015, September 25). Transforming our world: The 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Retrieved from un.org.
Mougeot, L. J. (2006). Growing better cities: Urban agriculture for sustainable development. Ottawa, ON: International Development Research Centre.
Durham, L., & Oberhotlzer, L. (2010). A geographic approach to place and natural resource use in local food systems. Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, 25(2), 99-108.
Gold, M. V. (2007, August 6). Sustainable agriculture: definitions and terms. Retrieved from afsic.nal.usda.gov.
Orsini, F., Kahane, R., Nono-Womdim, R., & Gianquinto, G. (2013). Urban agriculture in the developing world: A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 33, 695-720.
USDA (United States Department of Agriculture). (2009). Access to affordable and nutritious food: Measuring and understanding food deserts and their consequences - A Report to Congress. Washington, DC: USDA.
Alkon, A. H., & Norgaard, K. M. (2009). Breaking the food chains: An investigation of food justice activism. Sociological Inquiry, 79(3), 289-305.
FAO (Food and Agriculture Office of the United Nations). (2016, June 6). Urban agriculture. Retrieved from fao.org.
Mitchell, C. A. (2012). Plant lighting in controlled environments for space and earth applications. Acta Horticulturae, 956, 23-36.
Despommier, D. (2010). The vertical farm: Controlled environmental agriculture carried-out in tall buildings would create greater food safety for large urban populations. Jouranl fur Verbraucherschutz und Lebensmittelsicherheit (Journal of Consumer Protection and Food Safety), 6, 233-236.
Jensen, M. J. (2010). Controlled Environmental Agriculture in Deserts, Tropics, and Temperate Regions – A World Review. University of Arizona Controlled Environmental Agricultural Center Paper #I-125933-03-00.
Schnitzler, W. H. (2013). Urban hydroponics for green and clean cities and for food security. Acta Horticultrae, 1004, 13-26.
The Economist. (2010, December 9). Does it really stack up? Retrieved from exonomist.com.
Barbosa, G. L., Gadelha, F. D., Kublik, N., Proctor, A., Reichelm, L., Weissinger, E., Wohleb G. M., & Halden, R. U. (2015). Comparison of land, water, and energy requirements of lettuce grown using hydroponic vs. conventional agricultural methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12, 6879-6891.
Anashkina, A. (2015). Cornerstalk, outside and in. Retrieved from money.cnn.com.
Brennan, M., & Gralnick, J. (2015, June 24). Vertical farming the next big thing for food and tech. Retrieved from cnbc.com.
Sparks, R. E. (2016). Mapping and Analyzing Energy Use and Efficiency in a Modified Hydroponic Shipping Container. MS Thesis, Purdue University, Agricultural & Biological Engineering, W. Lafayette.
Rathbun, K., Sparks, R., & Wright, K. (2014). Development of a Hydroponic System for Use in Developing Countries. ABE 484-486 Capstone Experience Final Report, Purdue University, Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department, W. Lafayette.
Houtman, J. A. (2016). Design and Plan of a Modified Hydroponic Shipping Container for Research. MS Thesis, Purdue University, Agricultural & Biological Engineering Department, W. Lafayette.
Albright, L. D. (1990). Environmental Control for Animals and Plants (Vol. Series 4). St. Joseph, MI: American Society of Agricultural Engineers.
PARsource. (2018). Light Unit Conversion Table. Retrieved from parasource.com/content/light-unit-conversion-table.
Riddle, D. (2013). Aquarium equipment: PAR meters and LEDs – how accurate are these measurements? Retrieved from https://www.advancedaquarist.com/2013/2/equipment.
Pennsylvania State University Extension. (2016). Pythium. Retrieved from http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-disease/all-facts/sheets/pythium.
Valenzuela, H. R., Kratky, B. L., & Cho, J. (1996). Lettuce Production Guidelines for Hawaii (Vol. Series 164). Honolulu, HI: Hawaii Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
University of Illinois Extension. (2016, June 6). Lettuce. Retrieved from extension.illinois.edu.
Kreith, F., & Kreider, J. F. (1978). Principles of Solar Engineering. Washington, DC: Hemisphere Publishing Corporation.
Vanek, F., Albright, L. D., & Anagenent, L. (2016). Energy Systems Engineering: Evaluation and Implementation. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Goswami, D. (2015). Principles of Solar Engineering. Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Spitler, J. D., Fisher, D. E., & Pedersen, C. O. (1997). The Radiant Time Series Cooling Load Calculation Procedure. ASHRAE Transactions, 3(2).
Buffington, D. E., Bucklin, R. A., Henley, R. W., & McConnell, D. B. (2016). Greenhouse Ventilation. University of Florida, IFAS Extension, Gainesville.
Sumner, D. M., & Jacobs, J. M. (2005). Utility of Penman-Monteith, Prestley-Talyor reference evapotranspiration, and pan evaporation methods to estimate pasture evapotranspiration. Journal of Hydrology, 308, 81-104.
Martin, R. L. (2014, December). R Value Table. Retrieved from coloradoenergy.org.