I had an idea for a group of nomads/travellers who sustain themselves with mobile hydroponics system and whatever they can grow on the move.
How feasible would it be to have a mobile hydroponic farm capable of comfortably sustaining one person that can be mounted on a vehicle of some sort?
From the rough calculations I did, it certainly seems to be doable;
Farmland needed to sustain one person $\approx$ 0.5 hectares or $5000 m^2$.
Hydroponics $\approx$10x more efficient that dirt farming (includes density and no need to lie fallow).
Means roughly $\approx 500 m^2$ of hydroponics, or a square about 25m on a side.
Obviously this is a very rough, back of the envelop calculation, but it certainly seems doable. Even if you'd need a large truck. This only covers food as well - not any other crops you may want to grow to produce fuel/fabric etc etc.
- Power & Water - hydroponics needs plenty of both - obviously if you're on the move you could use the vehicle as a power supply, or supplement it using solar/wind power.
- Effect of vehicle vibrations on the plants - both normal engine noise and rough terrain. (Would it be possible to somehow utilize the vibrations as part of the hydroponics system?)
- Sunlight - either have to be exposed to the sunlight, or use artificial light sources - which uses more power.
- Weight - All the machinery/water/plants would be very heavy and would affect the performance of the vehicle.
- Mobility - at the end of the day you've got to be able to move, preferably with some off-road capability.
Obviously ship-based hydroponics is feasible, but I was wondering about the possibility of a land-based hydroponics society
Maybe if you has the hydroponics set up in a tiered system on the back of an old semi-trailer?
Bonus Question: Could a mobile hydroponics farm on the back of truck produce enough biofuel to keep itself moving?