TED & Talks

The Magic Factory – rewilding indoor farming | Ketil Stoknes | TEDxDrammen

“If you want to run a business of producing something, food for instance, you must be able to focus hard on the product, maximizing the output yield and reducing the input costs. It’s the regular business of raw material – machine – product! Forget about the rest, such as waste. An endless field of wheat is a product of this thinking. Now, vertical farms inside cities are being proposed as a solution to increasing food production while sparing natural ecosystems. But what do we do: we do what, according to Einstein, we should not do. We solve the problems by using the same kind of thinking as we used when we created them: we go for highly engineered simple systems of mineral inputs and plants. Walking around inside with protective suits to avoid the introduction of nature, we think we can simplify plant production down to finding the right wavelength of LED lights. Such an indoor farm looks to me like a wheat field put inside on shelves. Where did the circular economy go…?” Ketil Stoknes is biologist and ecologist from University of Oslo. Well established in the waste industry, he just completed a PhD in microbiology: Circular Food.
He is passionate about the power of natural systems and cycles, which can potentially solve the big challenges of our time. To him, nature is a textbook of solutions we can adapt to fix the piles of organic waste and the lack of sustainability in current food production. In fact, billions of years of evolution made sure there was no such thing as waste – until the industrial revolution messed something up. Still, growing up in the times of traditional industry and engineering, Ketil has never in his work been able to decide if he should take the standpoint of the techno-fix engineer, or of the naturalist, who leaves it up to nature’s more emergent solutions. He usually ends up trying both, just like we’ll have to do to make a living on Mars. According to Ketil our engineered waste-to-food systems just need a little rewilding. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx

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