End of assignment: Reflection and continuation

Today is the submission date for this blog, which I set up as part of a Geography Environmental Pollution module that I am taking in NUS. On the whole, this blogging exercise has taught me many things. I have realised the importance and benefits of self-learning, and that noting down the information and content learnt (in the form of a blog, or any prose forms), can be a revision for me to synthesise what I have learnt so far in my NUS undergraduate career.

In this blog, I have tried to use diagrams and videos to make the blog more interesting, and have applied knowledge that I have learnt from other seemingly unrelated modules. I think my blogging skills have improved quite a bit from when I started till now. I will strive to maintain this blog, since so much effort has been put into it.

It is unfortunate that I didn’t comment (virtually) on my classmates’ blogs, but I did learn quite substantially from theirs, and tried incorporating their points/ seek inspiration from their posts.

I will continue blogging, especially since I didn’t manage to blog about aquatic-farming, blue revolution and their environmental impacts and pollution.

Seeya soon!


Summary of High-tech farming and Alternative Food Networks

In the theme of high-tech farming as part of the Alternative Food Network system, I have learnt that:

  1. AFN is not necessarily less pollutive than commercial farming
  2. High-tech farming in indoor and urban conditions are expensive, although the energy consumed is at an efficient rate
  3. If Singapore wants to enhance its food security through more vigorous urban food production, Skygreen’s vertical green model is more apt than the LED lighted agriculture.
  4. LED lights should be powered by electricity produced by renewable and green energy so that it does not emit carbon like the animal farms and cause greenhouse effects.

Summary of Animal farming

In this post, I will summarise what I have learnt in this semester’s blogging experience.

Takeaways from animal farming posts include:

  • The political hushing of the environmental issues
  • Greenhouse warming due to the release of Greenhouse gases like Methane (from Manure) and Carbon-dioxide (from deforestation and reduction of carbon sinks)
  • The chemical properties of Methane and carbon-dioxide
  • Nitrate pollution from manure
  • The recycling of manure for energy generation, how poop becomes power
  •  How dietary change may or may not help the environment

Summary of the Monoculture Farming

In today’s post, I will summarise what I have learnt in this semester’s blogging experience.

Environmental Pollution impacts include:

  1. Soil contamination through the tranformation of synthetic fertilisers and chemicals used to ensure that the monoculture remains pest and disease-resistant
  2. Water pollution in the form of Eutrophication (anthropogenic) which can cause;
  3. Waters and ocean acidification. For the impacts of ocean acidifcation, please refer to Stephano’s blog “Save the Oceans”. He focused on ocean acidification and has thoroughly discussed the impacts.
  4. The geographies to eutrophication
  5. Soil and ground water contamination of Nitrate and its health impacts
  6. Air pollution and Climate change due to the reduction of carbon sinks with deforestation.
  7. Health impacts on farmers, consumers and the vulnerability of children and infants

In Retrospect: Singapore’s high-tech urban farms must not use LED light bulbs (2)

In today’s post, I am looking at the possibilities for Singapore to adopt the LED lighted urban agriculture. As a continuation from the previous post “In Retrospect: Singapore’s vertical farmings must not use LED light bulbs (1)”, I will argue that Singapore should not adopt this model of urban agriculture despite its benefits. This is because Singapore always claims itself to be “alternative-energy disadvantaged”.

Singapore imports almost all its energy needs, as not all renewable energy options are feasible in Singapore (Nccs.gov.sg, 2013) because:
  1. Hydroelectric power cannot be harnessed, as Singapore lacks a major river system
  2. Wind speeds are too low and we lack the land footprint for commercial wind turbines.
  3. Our prospects for geothermal energy are low.
  4. Our calm seas, which make us a good port, results in tidal ranges that are too low for commercial tidal power generation.
  5. Our small physical size (715.8 sq km), high population density and land scarcity limits our potential for sustainably-grown domestic biomass, and for the construction of solar-power farms.
As a result, our energy consumption and electricity production are by 2 main sources: Petroleum and Natural Gas.
As such, I do not advocate for Singapore to adopt the LED light Farm model, since the intensive use of artificial light (for mass production) cannot be truly environmentally friendly. The use of carbon sources like natural gas and petroleum to generate the electricity needed for the urban farms will cause carbon emission, and enhance the Greenhouse effect.
That’s all for today. I will round up and summarise my blog soon!.
Work Cited:
Nccs.gov.sg, (2013). National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) – Singapore’s Approach to Alternative Energy. [online] Available at: https://www.nccs.gov.sg/climate-change-and-singapore/national-circumstances/singapores-approach-alternative-energy [Accessed 8 Apr. 2015].

In Retrospect: Singapore’s high-tech urban farms must not use LED light bulbs (1)

Rounding up the 2 thread of posts on the “Light Fantastic” and “AFN in Singapore”, I wish to explore if LED light-bulb usage in the high-tech farms in temperate regions is applicable to Singapore’s context. This post is inspired by Gabriel’s post “Our Energy Futures II” on the Grid integration. We have learnt about this last semester in GE2230: Energy’s future.

Aforementioned in the “Light Fantastic”, LED lightbulbs are more efficient than the traditional fluorescent lightbulbs, and thus consuming less electricity. Indeed, seen in the diagram below, LED consumes the least electricity, compared to other lightings to produce the same level of brightness.

However, we want to ask ourselves, where does the electricity come from? If there are no carbon production at the point of producing the food crops, does that mean that there are no production and emission of carbon when consuming the energy needed to maintain the farms?

This is when I’ll like to draw reference to Gabriel’s post, on grid integration in the UK. Renewable and green energy is the hype after oil peaked, and that coal and natural gas will peak soon. Not to mention the environmental impacts of carbon fuels. The integration of renewable energy into the national grid to generate electricity to power the UK is the first step to reducing the carbon emission and thus greenhouse effect. This means a reduced reliance and consumption of carbon-powered electricity. Thus, so long the LED lights used in High-tech farms are powered via the electricity generated from (or solely) from renewable sources, the “Light Fantastc” then truly presents itself as an AFN that is environmentally equitable and friendly.

That’s all for today! Stay tuned!.


AFN in Singapore: Urban agriculture

In today’s post, I will like to discuss the AFN seen in the Singapore context, and discuss how it may cause less environmental pollution (in terms of fuel consumption) than the Skagit County case study.

Unlike the Skagit County whose farmers have to feed the residents of the bigger Seattle Metropolis, Singapore’s AFN farmers will only have to feed Singaporeans. This is because Singapore is a city-state. Any AFN within Singapore and eat local initiatives would have to be in the form of urban agriculture.

Introducing A-go-grow Vertical farming

In the case of Singapore, a fully urbanised city-state, locally grown produce accounts approximately 7% of the market share (Mnd.gov.sg, 2011). Singapore faces severe land scarcity and increasingly, there have been AFN initiatives within the homes and urban areas. Skygreen, is a commercial farm in Singapore that adopts vertical farming.

Vertical Farming “Skygreens”

Sky Greens’ patented vertical farming system consists of rotating tiers of growing troughs mounted on a A-shape aluminium frame. The frame can be as high as 9 meter tall with 38 tiers of growing troughs, which can accommodate the different growing media of soil or hydroponics. The troughs rotate around the aluminium frame to ensure that the plants receive uniform sunlight, irrigation and nutrients as they pass through different points in the structure. Unlike the “Light Fantastic” which uses pink LED light to boost the crops growth, SkyGreen claims that only natural light is employed. But of course, Singapore is located at the Equator, and the insolation and radiation we receive is more consistent (no seasonality) than the temperate countries using the LED light to power the crops’ growth.

Lower Energy and water Use

Rotation is powered by a unique patented hydraulic water-driven system which utilises the momentum of flowing water and gravity to rotate the troughs. Only 40W  electricity (= one light bulb) is needed to power one tower.Also, unlike the water-inefficient milk production on diary farms, the crops are irrigated and fertilised using a flooding method, thus there is no need for a sprinkler system. This eliminates electricity wastage, as well as water wastage due to run-offs. Only 0.5 litres of water is needed to rotate the 1.7 ton vertical structure. The water is contained in a enclosed underground reservoir system and is recycled and reused.

That’s all for Today!

Stay Tuned 😀

Work Cited:

Inhabitat.com, (2015). The World’s First Commercial Vertical Farm Opens in Singapore. [online] Available at: http://inhabitat.com/the-worlds-first-commercial-vertical-farm-opens-in-singapore/sky-greens-singapore-worlds-first-vertical-farm-2/ [Accessed 13 Mar. 2015].

Mnd.gov.sg, (2011). Urban Sustainability R&D Congress. [online] Available at: http://www.mnd.gov.sg/urbansustainability/2011/food.html [Accessed 13 Mar. 2015].