Some vegetables grow better in cities than in agricultural fields, with yields up to 4 times higher
British scientists have determined that some vegetables such as lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes grow better in the city, offering higher productivity.
It might sound unbelievable, but some vegetables grown in an urban environment guarantee productivity significantly higher than that of the traditional agricultural field in a rural area. For example, cucumbers potatoes, and lettuce offer collected two to four times better when grown in an urban garden or with hydroponics.
In such a system the soil is replaced by water and inorganic compounds to ensure all mineral salts necessary for plant nutrition and growth. Hydroponics is often heard of in science fiction films, and is considered a fundamental process for the sustenance of astronauts during the long journeys among the stars; it is no coincidence that it is regularly used on the International Space Station (ISS) - for example to grow these delicious peppers - and will be at the center of the mission that will bring man to Marte.
To determine that the cultivation of some vegetables is more productive than conventional vegetables in an urban environment a British research team led by scientists from the University of Lancaster, who collaborated closely with colleagues from the Center for Soil, Agrifood and Biosciences of the University of Cranfield and the Department of Psychology of the University of Liverpool.
The researchers, coordinated by Professor Florian Thomas Payen, lecturer at the Lancaster Environment Center of the English university, came to their conclusions after conducting a meta-analysis of over 200 studies conducted in 53 countries, with more than 2000 observations examined. In this way, they determined which crops benefit from growing in the city, which are the most effective cultivation methods, and which are the best spaces for these crops to thrive.
The researchers focused on the so-called "gray spaces"(roofs and streets) and green spaces (vegetable gardens, private gardens, and parks), noting that some crops are particularly suitable for the city. tomatoes and lettuce, for example, benefit from hydroponics. Without forgetting that the cultivations in a controlled environment allow the harvest of the products for the whole year. As indicated, cucumbers and potatoes also have better growth in an urban environment, offering yields up to 400 percent higher.
"Surprisingly, there were few differences between the overall yields in indoor spaces and outdoor green spaces, but there were clear differences in the suitability of crop types for different gray spaces," Professor Payen said in a press release. adding that some crops "like lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli" are naturally more suitable for growing vertically and indoors than others. “You can't exactly stack apple trees in a five- or ten-layer grow chamber, even though we found a studio that managed to grow the stacked grain that way,” the expert commented.
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It is estimated that to date between 5 and 10 percent of the legumes of the vegetables and gods tubers it is grown in an urban environment and between 15 and 20 percent of food globally is produced in cities, the scientists write. Urban agriculture can offer some advantages such as improving product safety, providing greater resilience e sustainability all benefits that could prove invaluable should one emerge a new pandemic and to counter the consequences of climate change, which, as is well known, also have a significant impact on crops.
After making accurate estimates of urban crop productivity, “planners and policymakers can assess whether it is worth investing in roof gardens or greenhouses, for example, or whether hydroponic systems might be the best solution,” the study authors write. Despite the potential benefits, scholars point out that it is important to understand the impact of carbon emissions related to these systems and also the influence of urban pollution on the quality of the products.
The details of the research “How Much Food Can We Grow in Urban Areas? Food Production and Crop Yields of Urban Agriculture: A Meta-Analysis ”have been published in the scientific journal Earth's Future.