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Thursday
Apr262007

Superfarm of the Year 2020 (1979)


The 1979 book Robots (World of the Future) includes the "Superfarm" of the year 2020. Many of the advances that they write about appear to have become a reality. That being said, I've never seen a farm that looked like that. Plastic domes are in contention with the videophone and flying cars for supreme perpetual technology of the future.

Compared with a farm of the present-day, this one seems more like a factory. The high food production required by a vast human population may make factory farms the only way to avoid mass starvation.

1. Farmhouse. Weather reports arrive via satellite; computers keep track of stock and grain yields.
2. Automatic harvester glides along monorail tracks.
3. Helijet sprays fertilizer and weedkiller.
4. Grain is pumped along tubes to nearby city. Old-fashioned trucks are little-used.
5. Many people regard present-day factory farming of animals as cruel and unnecessary even though most housewives are happy to buy cheap factory-farmed chickens. If people still want cheap meat, more of it may have to be produced in this way. Here, cattle are shown in space-saving multi-level pens.
6. Monorail train, loading up with beef.
7. Plastic domes protect crops like tomatoes and strawberries.
8. Orbiting space mirror provides night-lighting to boost crop yield.

See also:
Farm of the Future (1984)
A Glimpse of the Year 2000 (New York Times, 1982)
EPCOT's Horizons

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Reader Comments (5)

They may not use plastic DOMES on strawberry crops, but here in California, you often see entire fields with plants covered in plastic WRAP to retain moisture.

And, of course, a good chunk of off-season produce is grown in greenhouses and hot houses, differing only in specific appearance from the good ol' plastic dome.

April 27, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterYour Obedient Serpent

#2 has happened in an unforseen way. High end farm machinery now runs unattended via GPS plots of cultivated areas, which amounts to the same concept as guide rails, but far more flexible.

Nice blog, btw. I'll be flogging it on my blog from time to time if you don't mind.

http://jaylake.livejournal.com/

April 27, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterjaylake

That big livestock-raising gumball machine thingy reminds me of an
article from a NY Magazine (http://nymag.com/news/features/30020/) about vertical farming I saw a while back.

Also, freaking love your site. Great stuff. Constantly amazes me.

April 29, 2007 | Unregistered Commentertor

The main difference between many of these predictions as visualized and as implemented is cost optimization. In effect, we do much of what's predicted, but in a more cost-effective way.

May 4, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterRon

Yes Ron, many technical obstacles have been falling -- at an accelerating pace constrained mostly by politics and economics. I know of no pacing scheme that's demonstrably optimum. For now, China's "restraint" seems wise (ecological sustainability notwithstanding) and the US seems crippled by our plutocratic inertia.

November 9, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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