III.a Description of the problem:
Impact on our environment by industrial agriculture
33% of the total global warming effect can be attributed to the food system.
An additional 10 percent of global emissions stems from manufacturing and construction, which includes construction for the food industry.
Industrial crop production damages the environment, threatens human health and degrades rural communities. Industrial agriculture pollutes air, water, and soil, reduces biodiversity, and contributes to global climate change. It threatens health due to the contamination with antibiotics, pesticides and artificial growth hormones.
Biodiversity, which is critical to robust ecosystems and human life, is threatened by the pollution and genetic erosion. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have turned agriculture into a leading source of water pollution. Conventional crop producers have adopted intensive growing practices. These methods increase crop yields, but they also damage the soil and throw natural systems out of balance, primarily due to erosion and loss of fertility.
Agriculture uses a staggering amount of water on an annual basis. In 2000, 41% of all freshwater used by humans in the United States was used for agriculture.
Today's large-scale industrial farms depend on synthetic, manmade chemical fertilizers to support high-intensity monocrop systems. Unfortunately, synthetic fertilizers are often over-applied to cropland. In fact, it's estimated that only about half of all fertilizers are actually absorbed by plants; the remaining chemicals pollute the atmosphere, soils and waterways
III.b Description of the project:
Hydropod, a modular and ecological approach to homegrown crop production with strong emphasis on efficient water management. The mission; to engage people to grow their own food, enrich their self-sustainability and reduce the impacts of industrial agriculture. Hydropod makes you want to grow your own crops through its simplicity, practicality, beauty, and interactivity..
Is it hydroponics? Not really... but it is a derivative. Instead of focusing on a complete hydroponic setup we thought outside the box. First thing we did was not reinvent the wheel. Many hydroponic systems have an identical 'core' which is a water or air pump but a different infrastructure. This ranges from hanging bottles, to styrofoam rafts or simple pots with a hole punched into them. We forget all of these possibilities and design a 'core' that is applicable to all of these and beyond.
The first important key ingredient is a peristaltic pump which has some big advantages over the other available pumps. It has an easy ability to dose the amount of water that you want to pump, it can pump dry so it can also pump air and the fluids don't come in contact with the mechanics of the pump which makes it attractive in aquaponics or soil based gardening since the pumping system will not get blocked by debris. Another feature of this pump is that it can easily pump fluids in both directions. The ability to dose the amount of water to be pumped and the possibility the pump water back in a reservoir creates a strong advantage in water management. This way vaporising can be reduced by pumping water backwards and stocked water can easily be oxygenated by pumping air into the reservoir. Two simple steps in efficient recycling of water.
Another feature is modularity, Hydropod is designed to fit in a huge number of applications. Starting with all the different setups in hydroponics, aquaponics and classical gardening for small, midsize and big systems. It will be designed to work standalone and in a grid, to be setup for all size apartments, offices and houses with or without a garden.
It focusses strong on usability to reduce the user's threshold to an absolute minimum. Easy to build and use in a new or existing system.
Hydropod comes with a smart management system. The system connects a range of smart sensors...Read more »