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L’agriculture urbaine en intérieur, un pari 100% naturel | Fabien Persico | TEDxRennes

August 12, 2019

Translator: Sue Farmery
Reviewer: Shadia Ramsahye (Applause) [Indoor urban farming,
a 100% natural challenge] Can you see any difference
between these two lettuces? They are the same variety, they are the same shape,
the same colour, the same size. Simply put, they are identical. This plant was grown using
current field farming methods. Do you think it is natural? Eighty percent of lettuces grown in fields contain pesticides,
including the so-called CMRs, in other words, carcinogenic, mutagenic
or reprotoxic substances. Add to that an average of 300 food miles, kilos of carbon dioxide
and other toxic gases and 15 litres of water to grow it. Do you want it? This one doesn’t contain
any pesticides or herbicides, it hasn’t emitted any CO2 and it only needed
a large glass of water to grow. Indoor urban farming
is a revolutionary solution and is 100% natural. So, growing plants indoors
with artificial light – does that remind you of anything? For a long time, this was
the way cannabis was grown. But in 2011, more important problems
brought about this type of farming: the Fukushima nuclear accident. The atmosphere and the soil
were polluted, radioactive, and it was impossible to grow
vegetables locally for food. But in order to be able to feed
the citizens healthily, the Japanese had the incredible idea
to grow vegetables indoors, in an enclosed environment. The plants grew without soil, and with strict control of all the inputs
provided through air and water. The entire photosynthesis process
was reproduced, but indoors. Well, the project made
quite a bit of noise; it was an eccentric, off-the-wall idea. But little by little,
people got used to it. The concept spread, and now,
it’s even become a necessity. Today, six million Japanese
consume products derived from indoor urban farming. Research and technology
have advanced very quickly, providing new perspectives. China and America took the lead,
in light of their population issues, looking to reduce their dependence
on foreign food. But it was in Singapore that the first
vegetable towers were born, in 2012. Only 1% of the island’s land
is cultivatable, though it’s one of the most densely
populated places in the world. More than 90% of the food is imported, without the slightest guarantee
of origin or quality, to such an extent that local supermarkets
sell products to wash fruit and veg to remove pesticides and other chemicals. But what challenges lie ahead, exactly? According to a study
by the UN and the FAO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world’s agricultural production
must double between now and 2050 to keep up with the demand
of nearly 10 billion inhabitants. Currently, about 50% of us live in cities. But in 2050, this will be closer to 70%. All the cultivatable land near cities
has already been farmed. Should we continue to look for
even more land? Even further from consumers? Or continue to dump tons
of chemicals across the countryside? No, we can’t go on like this. I come from a farming family,
in the south of France, near Toulouse. My parents grew all sorts
of vegetables in their fields: grains, wheat, corn, but also vegetables. When I was eight, I already had
my own vegetable patch. I had experimented with all kinds
of veg that came into my head. But it takes so long
for crops to grow at that age! Then, when I was 12, I saw on the Internet that
plants grew quicker indoors, and I wanted to test that straightaway. And now, I have been observing
and growing plants for 18 years. I enjoy making my own
environmental conditions to provide the plants with
a perfect environment indoors. And so, after scraping through
some exams at school – but really thanks to my own
experiments and the Internet – I was able to create
a unique growing method: organic indoor hydroponics. The plants’ roots are immersed
in a mix of compost and water, and then beneficial bacteria are added: Trichoderma as well as mycelium, exactly the same bacteria that are found
in the ground, in the woods and also in organic farming. These bacteria decompose the compost
so the plants can digest it. In a sense, I am trying to reproduce
all the complexity of soil, but in water. And everything is lit by LED lights that are specially calibrated
for growing vegetables. I then thought about several places
for doing this type of growing. And, like another famous farming company, the renowned Apple brand, I started in my garage. But in the end, I found
the best compromise with shipping containers. They are adapted for growing vegetables
in a healthy and innovative way in the heart of cities. It is no longer up to the plant
to adapt to weather hazards – strong winds, rain,
storms, clouds, hail … In this shipping container, I provide everything that
the plants need, at the right time, with no variability or stress for them. And this allows the production
of 100 plants a day – almost a ton of vegetables
a month – guaranteed. I wanted to push
the innovation even further by imagining modules for the plants. Each module includes
an intensity, an air quality, a water quality and a light spectrum that are specially adapted
to the different stages of plant growth. For example, in a germinator, a basil or parsley seed
will germinate in just three days, whereas it normally takes about
three weeks with traditional farming. Then, a nursery welcomes the young shoots where they start to be watered. And finally, plants finish
maturing on adapted shelves. So it takes about 45 days
from seed to harvest to obtain perfectly matured plants, compared to about 70 to 80 days
on average with traditional farming. And thanks to this, it is possible to grow up to 15,000 plants at the same time in 13 square metres – in other words, 150 times more productive
than farming in ordinary soil. And all of this, managed remotely,
thanks to my smartphone. Don’t get me wrong – this in no way resembles
intensive or factory farming, as one might very easily
equate with a henhouse. In the box, I provide everything
that the plants need, at the right time, with no variability or stress for them. In a way, the vegetables are happy. And, as you will have gathered, this is
without pesticides, herbicides or GMOs. What’s more, it saves
500,000 litres of water per year per container,
compared to traditional farming. And what about pushing
this innovation even further with indoor urban farms? I grow vegetables, edible flowers,
medicinal plants and other vegetables that are
rarer, more sought-after, like saffron, vanilla,
miraculin or even truffles. I also experiment with
vegetables with unusual shapes. First, we had flat peaches, but tomorrow, we will have
square watermelons. Or even – imagine – super-carrots, that could contain up to 20 times
more carotene and antioxidants, without genetic modification or additives, just by providing the plant
with the correct light that it needs. And then you realise that these plants are grown
just around the corner, that they are delivered by bicycle
within half an hour of being picked, still alive, to the consumer. Today, food is produced
where climatic conditions are ideal, but not always by healthy methods. For example: Spanish strawberries,
aside from not having any taste, are covered in chemical products. Or even the mint in your mojito
has come from hundreds of miles away, from Morocco, when all we need to do is to make the most of
nature’s exceptional offerings by farming products healthily
and just around the corner. I estimate that today, traditional farming makes use of
only 25% of plants’ potential, whereas indoor urban farming
will let us go much further, by consuming local products, economically and always
without any chemicals. Together, let’s rise to the challenge of 100% natural urban indoor farming. (Applause)


  • Reply keut ¿¡ February 4, 2018 at 3:16 am

    putain j'aimerai pas etre a ta place

  • Reply No Name. April 25, 2018 at 6:45 pm

    Quels études pour travailler dans ce domaine?

  • Reply Francois Lamarche August 13, 2018 at 12:23 am

    Ce concepts pourrait permettre à notre civilisation de survivre à un hiver volcanique. Oui, moins de pesticide, c'est intéressant, mais survivre, c'est encore plus intéressant.

  • Reply Pierre-Antoine C. July 20, 2019 at 7:33 pm

    Qu'on enlève le mot "naturel" de la bouche de cet homme.
    C'est dingue cette volonté de l'humain de vouloir à ce point se séparer de la nature et de vouloir tout faire pour la contrôler, l'optimiser, la rentabiliser. La nature n'a pas besoin de nous. Vouloir toujours plus de croissance sur une surface réduite (la Terre) c'est bien notre problème depuis plusieurs décennies, et à l'heure où les mentalités changent, à l'heure où l'on commence à prendre conscience qu'on a qu'une planète et qu'on ne peut pas la surexploité… qu'elle est la solution de cet homme ? Produire plus, sur moins d'espace… cultiver hors sol. Qu'on ne me parle pas de bien être de la plante qui n'est pas relié à la Terre.
    La Vie ce n'est pas ça, je ne souhaite pas être assis dans un fauteuil, nourris avec pile poil ce qu'il faut pour une productivité maximale, sans stress, sans aléas climatique. La Vie de tout être vivant elle est richesse de nos aléas climatique, de nos aléas émotionnels, de nos expériences, de nos réussites et de nos échecs. Ce monde aseptisé qui passe par toujours plus de contrôle, d'un Ordre rigoureux, je n'en veux pas, la nature non plus d'ailleurs n'en veux pas. Laissez à l'abandon une parcelle de terre vous n'y trouverez jamais des végétaux alignés en rang d'oignon…
    Cet homme ne parle pas de "naturel" ou de nature, ce mode contrôlé et aseptisé qu'il propose, ce n'est ni plus ni moins que de l'artificiel. C'est la mort de la Vie.
    Pour info, 1000m² de terre cultivé en permaculture/écoculture produit plus et de meilleure qualité qu'un hectare d'agriculture contemporaine. La solution elle est là, arrêter de vouloir s'extirper de la nature, arrêter de vouloir la contrôler, retourner à la Terre et aller dans son sens plutôt que de la combattre.

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