Revolutionary Subterranean Farms
Effective Land Use
A Tasty Alternative
- The newly patented concept for subterranean farms is an alternative approach to large scale crop production. These farms could be created close to, or beneath, population centres to reduce transportation costs and CO2 emissions. Cost effective subterranean tunnels for crop planting could be constructed using new drilling techniques and these could be linked with existing coal mining and civil air defence tunnels, many of which are now abandoned. The new subterranean farms would form a network of tunnels for intensive crop farming to feed rising urban populations.
- There are millions of redundant coal mines and tunnels in the world which could be linked to new tunnels for crop production. In the UK there are over 1500 redundant coal mines, and in China, there are over 12,000 abandoned coal mines (0.6 million m3), 7.2 billion m3 of tunnels and about 1 billion m3 civic air defence tunnels.
Climate Change Friendly
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) is required for plant photosynthesis. The subterranean farms will use CO2 capture and release systems, as these spaces are well suited to carbon storage. Use of carbon capture systems has the added benefit of reducing CO2 concentration in the environment, as additional carbon is adsorbed in materials in the subterranean space. Advanced control systems including sensors and remote controls could be used to monitor crop production. Electricity generated from renewable sources and off-peak power could be used to power the LED lighting for plant photosynthesis.
Existing agricultural methods have many problems:
- High dependence on natural resources, including water, arable land space, daylight, etc.
- Affected by irregular seasons and climates, industrial pollution, natural disasters, extreme weather, pests and diseases, man-made accidents and wars
- Inefficiency, including low production capacity, and inefficient use of natural resources
- Crops can take up harmful materials. Cultivated land and water are heavily polluted in many countries. For example, about one fifth of arable land in China is contaminated with levels of toxins greater than Government standards (2014 data), and 14% of domestic grain contains heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium (2015).
The Next On-Site ‘Renewables’?
- The benefits of the subterranean farms are:
- Effective use of abandoned mines and existing civil defence underground facilities.
- Carbon capture to reduce ambient CO2
- Reduced dependency on cultivated land, climate and surface water resources.
- More efficient utilization of natural resources in crop production.
- Improved safety of crop production and reduced impact of natural and man-made factors.
- Higher yields and greater cost efficiency.
- Improved control over quality and food safety.
- Removal of seasonal restrictions allowing production of all kinds of crops all year round.
- Can be used in areas with poor natural weather conditions, e.g., cold climates, and areas with low solar insolation.
- Crops can be produced in desert areas, dry and water-deficient areas.
- Impact of human conflict on crop production is reduced.
- Crops can be grown close to highly populated areas.
For Further information please contact:
Professor Saffa Riffat
Fellow of the European Academy of Sciences
President of the World Society of Sustainable Technologies
University of Nottingham
Professor Yijun Yuan
Marie Curie Research Fellow
University of Nottingham[email protected]