California Is For Vertical Farming, 3D Printed Communities, Says Futurist Matt Griffin | Local news
International futurist Matt Griffin returned for a second year as a guest speaker at the EconAlliance Future Forum, where he again presented sci-fi-style predictions of innovations that will challenge major California industries over the past 30 years. coming years.
Griffin’s presentation focused on agriculture, energy, healthcare, transportation, and space as it relates to Santa Barbara County.
âEvery industry is disrupted,â said Griffin, founder of the UK-based 311 Institute, a consultancy that helps global brands and governments create a lasting legacy.
Ahead of the December 2 dinner at the Santa Ynez Valley Marriott in Buellton, Griffin described in an interview the ways emerging technologies could significantly benefit the local economy, primarily agriculture and space.
Specific to food producers, he cited the possible use of edible electronic labels to track the most productive crops like the advertised strawberry, which was the county’s No.1 crop in 2020, worth $ 727.4 million. dollars, according to the annual report of the county agricultural commissioner’s office. .
Edible labels could prove useful, he said, in providing vital information to the distributor and the consumer about the movement of food products as they move through the supply chain. The technology – a form of microbial spray – is applied before food begins its journey and provides insight into distance traveled and nutritional content. The information could also offer a food safety benefit, making it easier to identify the origin of foodborne illnesses, Griffin said.
The futurist also said that a shift from farming in the traditional sense to growing crops indoors in a controlled environment could boost the local economy and ease the pressure on farmers facing poor harvests due to drought statewide.
Eighty-five percent of California experiences some level of drought, Griffin said, while trying to maintain production of more than 400 staple crops each year.
âCalifornia has some of the richest farmland, but what is it without water? Griffin asked.
The answer could be found in vertical farming, a process in which food is grown in layers stacked inside an interior structure such as a shipping container or reused warehouse, and fed by a combination of natural and artificial light, such as high power LEDs. . Instead of soil, other cultivation methods are used, such as aeroponics, aquaponics or hydroponics.
âLocal farmers could grow lettuce with 100% less water and pesticides at an eight-fold higher yield, and only grow organic crops,â Griffin said. âAutonomous, vertical farms are coming, like it or not. “
Big companies like Walmart, KFC and McDonald’s are now turning to these methods, Griffin said, while Amazon has already started investing in vertical farming in select warehouses through its grocery arm, Amazon Fresh.
Even local ranchers could see changes with the arrival of lab-made meat in a method called cell farming, according to Griffin’s predictions, an approach that doesn’t require raising and killing animals.
He noted that a New York-based company is ahead of the game, producing and selling lab-grown leather products.
âWe’ve increasingly cracked the code to produce animal products without needing the animal,â Griffin said.
Griffin said cattle ranching also adds to the state’s water problems, with 70% of freshwater consumption going to agriculture, including water used to grow animal feed. like alfalfa.
Letting go of the tradition, Griffin said, will likely be an early challenge for some ranchers and farmers as advancements emerge that remove the need for food from the soil.
“It’s more sustainable,” he said, referring to the agricultural industry which is under increasing pressure amid trade wars, tariff hikes and extreme weather conditions.
An advance already present is the construction of 3D printed houses. In places like Houston, isolated buildings and even small communities are printed to help house their growing population, Griffin said. The cost of building via 3D printing is 50% cheaper than with wood, Griffin said, and is 95% faster.
3D printing will also go to space.
In the very near future, according to Griffin, companies like Starlink, Blue Origin and Space Tango are not just targeting the moon, but aiming to build on it and modernize it with technology.
A moon base built by 3D printing technology launched from Earth via a reusable rocket and built by robots isn’t such a far-fetched idea, Griffin said.
“Vandenberg can be [at the] center to build a sustainability accelerator and become the space industry’s flagship model for creating new things in a sustainable way, âGriffin said,â if they position themselves as a community of space start-ups â.
These distant predictions, however, will not happen overnight, Griffin added.
âThere is a transition,â he said. “A lot of these changes are being made at a very basic level.”
The makers of culinary vinegars and shrubs, Jody Williams and her husband Charles Williams, started their business in 2016 under an artisan cooking license and found rapid success.
The technologies of the future are already here, they go way beyond our sci-fi visions and they will fundamentally change everything from agriculture and healthcare to construction and communications, a futurist said on Thursday during of a forum presented by the North Santa Barbara Economic Alliance. County.
Lisa AndrÃ© covers lifestyle and local news for Santa Ynez Valley News and Lompoc Record, Santa Maria Times editions.