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Pag.: 1
Urban Agriculture
Excerpt from the publication of “Casa del Futuro
from Giorgio del Forte
ISBN #: 978-1-4478-3991-0
Pagine 2
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Introducon to e-BioAgri project
BEL1254 / AED / QS 09/01/2018 - pages 29
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he United Naons Organizaon predicts that the world’s
populaon should increase and reach about two and a half
billion in 2050 and the 80% of the world’s populaon will live in
cies or urban centers. However the 80% of the land dedicated to the
producon of food is already being exploited for current needs, which,
as we know, is not enough. For the farmers ancipate the urban growth
becomes more complex; the extreme weather condions and polluon
that devastate crops around the world cause increased costs food;
ever more conscious consumers demand eco-sustainable producon
and quality, by solicing a market more responsible and aenve. This
smulates and imposes the innovave use of agricultural technologies
for development and culvaon in enclosed environments, close to
cies or even integrated inside urban fabric like the e-BioAgri project.
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he e-BioAgri project provides for the creaon of
an independent system for the aboveground and
vercal culvaon of a hundred dierent plants
culvars, from leuce with to basil, to strawberries, to owers.
Some crops or livestock :
Bok choy
Chili pepper
Flowering plants
Freshwater shrimp
Grass carp
Kale cabbage
Koi Carp
Ocinal herbs
Passion fruit
Persian sh
Salads (dierent types)
Seaweed (various types)
Shiso (Japanese basil,
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t comes from hydroponics, bioponics, aquaponics, aeroponic and
ultraponic techniques and then evolve in a producon system assisted
by a digital device that performs a specic and rigorous control on
each phase and operaon, dierent for each culvar. This method
allows real-me analysis not only of the product but, more important,
of resources used to produce. The culvaon can be carried out in
various environments, from the desert to the Alps, from the city to the
countryside, from a parking to the basement of a house, from a
industrial abandoned building, to a very heavily polluted ground etc.
(sanitaon of highly polluted environments). This infrastructure can
be easily transported by truck, train, helicopter, boat and others. It
does not require any parcular prior installaon and can be moved
at any me with or without culvated products inside. Even if the
infrastructure is moved, the producon or culture contained does
not undergo any stop, any damage or alteraon during its growth
cycle. Internal culture is in no way inuenced by external condions,
indeed it allows, even under weather extreme condions, to develop.
Whether in Antarcca or in the desert, whether it is snowing or there
is drought, you can grow basil or strawberries or other culvars.
This method guarantees, even with extremes condions external
environmental, to create an ecosystem adapted and opmized for
each type of culvar. This allows a me-limited development while
maintaining and guaranteeing superior nutrional and organolepc
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qualies. This system makes it possible to establish with the maximum
precision the properes and the specic characteriscs of plants or
other culvars that we propose to produce.
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System advantage
. Soil-less culture and a digitally controlled environment consent
to harvest a BIO product that maintains the organolepc qualies,
food properes, richness of principles nutrients and, importantly, the
eliminaon of the use of harmful pescides and ferlizers (e.g. the
harvested salad does not even need to be washed and the fruits can be
tasted with their skin; the basil leaves should not be washed so as not
to lose any substance present on the leaves).
. Crops, by type of food, are obtained from one to seventeen
mes faster than tradional crops.
. Reduced water consumpon from 90% to 98% and exclusion
of any pescides with reduced monthly management costs.
. Reduced space: e.g. for the culvaon of a salad, in the most
crical condions, we manage to produce during a period of one
year 4.84 mes the producon of a eld of a surface of one acre in a
volume of 76m³ corresponding to a surface of 28m². In this way on one
acre, with UCR units (Fast Culture Unit), we can produce, in one year, a
quanty equivalent to that of 240-320 UCR/acre.
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. Each Unit is equipped with a computer and remote controlled
with digital technologies such as smartphone, internet and intranet,
WIFI etc. The management of these units does not require the presence
of permanent and qualied sta. The daily presence for an aendant is
esmated from zero to two hours depending on the operaons and the
execuon phases. Each UCR (Fast Culture Unit) is equipped with more
than 30,000 points of measurement and each plant is subjected to a
remote control.
. Producon can be managed in an eco-sustainable way by
following a calendar that can be modied according to the needs
encountered gradually. This avoids shortages and therefore increases
uncontrollable food costs. This fragmentary producon allows not
incurring in the shackles of monoculture.
. The imperturbability of the culture agrees the employees not to
be experienced farmers because every phase is directly managed by
present embedded computers in every infrastructure and by councilors
agronomists who can verify, remotely, the growth of the cultures. All
UCR units are connected between them and are directly connected to
our arcial neural network. Thanks to this arcial neural network,
whoever can exploit the units UCR even with no know-how. All tasks
and checks are carried out automacally and, if necessary, professionals
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can intervene remotely also. Without these network and informaon
exchanged, the UCR have no producon capacity within the 24 hours a
. The necessary energy is reduced and, according to the
condions, it can be insured, parally or totally, by the renewable,
solar energy and/or windmill energy and/or hydraulic energy.
. It is important to remind two facts:
The properes of the used ground have no importance because
this one has only a funcon of space storing the units. Whether it is an
agricultural ground, a parking lot or garages their unique funcon is the
one to accommodate the various units on one or several oors.
Every unit can shelter various producons. In dierence of the
agricultural grounds no rest of the ground is necessary. Finished the
harvest of a culvar, the same or another one can immediately begin
just aer a simple cleaning.
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very unit is designed so, as to maintain the characteriscs
of transportability and at the same me to create inside an
environment adapted to the specicies of the culvar.
A mobile farm, autonomous and isolated from the external environment,
by using a strategy of management which introduces the new
technologies to be able to automate and control in a determined and
methodical way every process of any nature in the culvated zone:
precision farming
Inside are present all the necessary equipments for the reproducon of
the environments condions (light, temperature, humidity, venlaon
etc.). The water and the air are meculously micro-controlled ltered as
well as nutriments necessary for the culture. The vercal culture allows
raonalizing spaces. In the unit UCR are present the culvated plants
and the seeds in germinang phase for the successive producon. The
system is managed by a neural arcial network e-BioAgri. A capillary
and mul-purpose network of sensors raises, records, interprets and
transforms the uncountable data and the condions of the inside and
the outside of the agricultural unit by passing on them in the form
of commensurable elements decoded by the central processing unit.
A numerous robocs, pneumac, mechanical actuators etc. allow
acvang the necessary automac procedures for the opmizaon
of the culture of dierent culvars without any external or human
intervenon. The neural network allows increasing the basic external
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memory update regularly by a specic study for each culvar and by
an empirical experience recorded in the unit. Every operaon can be
observed, monitored from the outside and if an external and/or human
intervenon turns out to be necessary, this one will prime on any other
acon. The main innovaon is represented by this neural network,
connected with all inputs and outputs peripherals and supported also by
an external memory-data and one internal update regularly. The ulity
of this neural network model is related to its property of learning and
understand a state by extrapolang the intervenon procedures and by
using observaons of already exisng data in the archive. The diagram
summarizes, in an elementary and rough way, the interacons and
certain characteriscs of the system which remains the keystone of the
system e-BioAgri and can be only revealed briey.
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he UCR produce locally, not in km “0” but in meter “0”, foodstus
safe to consume. Each unit is equipped according to the needs of
the dierent culvars and the method that is in use (hydroponic,
bioponic, aquaponic, aeroponic or ultraponic). For aquaponics,
the culture goes with a sh farming. All infrastructures and equipments
are designed and manufactured by us. The project has been designed
so that it can be realized in any place and therefore the prerequisite
is to be able to manufacture, ourselves, the necessary equipment by
using easily idenable raw materials. From the soware to hardware
equipments (e.g. from pumps to computers, to conduits), everything
is realized by our own care. The substratum used for plants is designed
on the mathemacal model Voronoi, adapted according to the sowed
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Bring the farm to the consumer.
The farmer harvests the fruits
of the ground (UCR Unit of
Fast Culture) according to the real
necessies of the consumer, at the
same moment of the sale and in the
same locaon of delivery.
The agricultural ground moves in town to reinvent the urban farming.
To evaluete the project e-BioAgri, it is essenal to make an excursus
on the detrimental specicies of the current farming sector and the
ecosystem in general; the project e-BioAgri proposes real soluons.
For example, from the producon point of view, the European Parliament
considers that the 88% of tons food is wasted in the Union, approximately
173kg “pro capite” yearly. The Belgians waste on average 345kg of
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food per year. At world scale only the 43% of fruits and the produced
vegetables is consumed, whereas the 53% is lost in the phases of harvest,
selecon, storage, transport, transformaon, rejecon by supermarkets
and consumers. Let us take in example an esmated producon of
leuce. Let us confront the yields on annual growth of a harvest of a
unique unit UCR with an acre of land.
Lets nally consider an average an annual harvest per acre of land.
An acre of land corresponds to 4046m² compared to a unit UCR that
presents a surface of 28m².
But the culture in a UCR unit is of vercal type and so we must report
the surfaces to a volume of 76m³.
If in an acre of land is grown on average 35,000 plants, in a unit UCR
grown 11,400 per month and therefore 11,400 x 12 months = 136,800
Regardless of culture, maintenance and necessary treatments, we can
establish an average soil yield of 75% and of 93% in a UCR unit, therefore
we will have a producon of 26,250 plants in soil against 127,224 plants
in a UCR.
Even if the annual producon had been idencal, the used spaces would
anyway be considerably uneven. e-BioAgri
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f it was possible to make a monthly harvest on an acre of land, the
yield would anyway be lower than that obtained in the units UCR.
Indeed we would have, hypothecally, 35.000 plants (normally this
value should be revised downwards by the 15% of loss equal to 29.750
plants but by excess we maintain the value of 35.000) x 12 months =
420.000 plants a year far from the yields of 240 UCR distributed on the
only 3 oors either 11.400 plants a month x 12 months = 136.800 plants
a year x 240 UCR = 32.832.000 plants per year.
From this value we subtract the 7% of loss and thus 30.533.760 plants
compared to 420.000 plants in ground. To weaken our result, we apply
to our type of harvest only the 93% of eciency and maintain the 100%
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result for the harvest in ground. Coecient “I”, the imponderable, is
oen associated with a 30% value for the companies of innovave type
or start-up. By using the stascal data and by applying to 32.832.000
plants, not the 30% but a more rigorous and penalizing 60%, we shall
obtain a value equal to 12.213.504 plants of leuce. Obviously, this is
not an acceptable hypothesis seen the coecients of low yields applied
to our UCR.
The investment is important but pays o in brief deadline.
Producon of basil
The European market is not a single market. By considering the European
market, it is interesng to note as for example in Holland, in the big retail
chains, the price can easily reach 99,33€ / kg while a bouquet of fresh
basil of 100gr, made for the pesto of ORGANIC type is sold in Italy to
2,88€ - 3€. The UCR is predisposed in an urban area and thus they adopt
the concept of the urban agriculture, farming urban or gardening urban,
by reducing the sale price of farm produces in town while maintaining a
prot margin important and superior to the average of the urban market.
The main keys of success of the unit UCR are thus:
1. Compeve prices because they eliminate the intermediaries.
2. Compeve prices because they do not need a transport, as
installed in the zone of distribuon (farming in the places of sale).
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3. Compeve price because they do not have the spending of the
convenonal and tradional agriculture (in ground, in greenhouse)
during the growth.
4. Compeve price because the yield on the producon is
established in 93% product marketable.
5. Equally of the producon, the specic costs are lower.
These few points of the system e-BioAgri should not lead to forget
real movaons and values of the vision and the mission of the
Within the framework of a producon of Genoese basil, we establish a
cycle of 8 weeks, which does not correspond to agricultural necessies
but only to commercial necessies.
Every week a unit UCR, in any environment and meteorological
condion engenders a harvest of 139,5kg with a 93% yield.
The sale price varies from village to village, from city to city, from
country to country, of period and of season. The possibility of
movement in any place, allows us to choose the locality more suited
contrary to the tradional farmers who cannot transport their
greenhouse or elds. Besides, the locaon is not denive, but can be
modied at any me and without one necessary advance noce.
The costs of travel are similar to those of a transport of shipping
container of 40’.
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One of the important aspects is the mes of growth. If in a
greenhouse, they can be long and dierent, according to the summer
or wintry season, in the units UCR, they are constant and they can be
established, not according to the yield on the plant but according to
the request of the market.
We can reach mes of harvest of 3.6 weeks all year long unl 8 weeks
according to the requirements. By taking in example the sale price in
chains of stores as Colruyt or sll AH, we can nd two typologies:
A package of basil of 15gr. at the price of 1,49€ from which it is
necessary to subtract the VAT 6% with a nal price 1,40€
A package of basil of 40 gr. at the price of 1,99€ from witch
it is necessary to subtract the VAT 6% with a nal 1,87€
ith 139,5kg weekly, if sold only in these two typologies, we
obtain a weekly takings 9.085€, 436.080€ annually.
As regards the monthly expenses, we calculate +/- 5.003€
and thus 60.036€ annually.
It is necessary to highlight that several spending were
overesmated to weaken the yield on the system e-BioAgri.
In the case of energy expenditure, we also introduced the expenses
of amorzaon for solar panels, which have, actually, a long-term use
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and allow decreasing the overheads and thus should be considered
investments. In this, it is necessary to add the costs of amorzaon of
the unit UCR esmated averagely at 25.000€ more inial expenses and
the 6.000€ travel.
This spending can be paid o in 60 monthly payments, that is 553€
monthly for a period of 5 years. In conclusion, we shall have a gross
earnings 258.587€ decreased in a 30% of risk factor “I” the imponderable
and nally subjected to the tax system of the head oce.
One of the innovaons introduced into the system e-BioAgri is the
possibility being Mobilis in Mobile.
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he margin of earnings is such as it allows to compete, in a
pragmac way, and to acvate any commercial operaon to
outstrip the traps of the market. If from the nancial point
of view, the unsold product can be perceived as a lack of earnings, it
should not be considered a loss. The product was not collected and
thus he pursues his growth unl the next sale. Develop an agriculture
that exploits the technology to produce a real BIO without pescides,
free GMO, reducon of the CO
impact, direct sale to the consumer
of the product really necessary. An eco-sustainable urban agriculture.
It is also necessary to consider that the producon in the units UCR
can be diversied and thus dierent culvars can be together sheltered,
compable with their specicity of growth.
An agricultural robozaon, that reduces the working hours and the
physical eorts by favoring the quality work. The product with surprising
organolepc qualies is authenc, it maintains and increases the
nutrional characteriscs. Agriculture becomes a precise and methodical
cra that expresses itself through a master who exalts the qualies of the
product by nuancing them through the control of each factor or variable
of the process. The farmer is no longer at the mercy of Mother Nature’s
moods. e-BioAgri is commied to bringing the farm in urban centers.
It is easier to oer a fresh product than curled up in a supermarket fridge.
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