Despommier believes the current agricultural system to be in failure. Among the potential solutions, he advocates for a 3-D farming methodology employing controlled hydroponic production. These vertical farms would enable farming closer to, or within, city limits. This would allow a superior growing environment for plants, improved per-acre output, and a food production economy requiring minimal transit. Coupling with wastewater treatment, renewable energy production, and biofuels could further enhance the benefits.
Humans are moving en masse into urban environments, and population continues to increase globally. The finite stock of arable land and the density of humanity in cities presents an opportunity. Climate change also represents a threat to agricultural security, as weather patterns and pest-ranges shift. Vertical farming would allow a controlled farming environment proximal to the consumers.
Nature does not produce and ship materials en masse. It is far more typical to produce material local to the usage. Additionally, in a direct metaphor, a rainforest is a 3-D photosynthetic space, not the relatively 2-D traditional farm field. In this farming strategy, 3-D plant biomass production and local resource production would be coupled.