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Vertical Farming – Plant Factories – Controlled Environments

Touch the Soil News #287

While most folks wait for spring to start gardening, a small number of people – often with significant financial backing – are entering the arena of controlled environment farming.

Farming inside is not simple. One must buy buildings, retrofit the interiors, use expensive high-tech lighting, labor, get the right environmental management and on and on. Let’s just say a million dollars does not go far if you want to commercialize and produce in volume.

What the controlled environment farming entrepreneurs are betting on is increasing demand for:

  1. Food that is grown consistently
  2. Food that is grown locally
  3. Food that can be grown year-round
  4. Food that can be grown without pesticides and organically

Dr. Howard M. Resch displays greenhouse hydroponics produce

While the cost for farming vertically indoors in a controlled environment is high, there are factors that controlled environment farmers are hoping will lower costs and get them in the black. These things include:

  1. Growing set-ups that are conducive to robotics – limiting labor costs
  2. Science and technology will continue to deliver better grow lights at cheaper costs
  3. Minimizing water use thus minimizing costs
  4. Locating facilities close to large urban centers for volume selling and low shipping costs
  5. Being able to grow 24/7 – which allows harvesting two to four times more often than from fields

 

A recent report from Winter Green Research predicts that what was a $400 million market for indoor farming produce in 2013, will grow to almost $2 billion by 2020. Another report by Markets and Markets estimates indoor farming will reach $3.88 billion by 2020.

Following are three different video clips on indoor and vertical farming that seeks to change our food landscape:

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