Indoor Agriculture Business.
Indoor agriculture refers to an increasingly popular form of crop cultivation that happens inside, making it less of a traditional farm and more of a manufacturing facility. Indoor agriculture is still in its infancy, but it signals a new type of food entrepreneurship. A number of hobbyists have scraped together a few thousand dollars to make an indoor farm and are looking to grow bigger.
As has been true since the nation’s founding, continuing improvements in farming technology from farm machinery to better seeds and fertilizers to effective pest control had made farmers more and more successful in growing and producing crops, but not making money. American farmers approached the 21st century with many of the same issues they encountered in the previous century. The most important of these issues continued to be overproduction.
While farmers as a group have generally favored holding down overall crop output to shore up prices as a conceptual strategy, they have also generally balked at the idea of cutting their own production.
When they start colonizing Mars, they’re going to need vertical farms to help feed the people there. In early October, a little more than hundred people gathered in an unlikely event space in New York City to talk about farming. This was the first time the event, dubbed Indoor Ag Con, was held in New York, and it brought together the founders of alternative farming companies, technologists, lighting experts and researchers. They discussed water usage and efficient transportation, the price of LEDs and intellectual property concerns.
Where traditional farms rely on irrigation systems, soil and sunlight, indoor farms use LEDs or high-pressure sodium lamps, and grow in hydroponic or aeroponic systems. Without bugs, proponents say, pesticides can be reduced and the overall product is not only more controlled but healthier.
Critics, however, warn that indoor agriculture is an energy-intensive way for companies to take over areas of food production where family farms and small businesses have excelled in recent years, as demand for local, organic products has increased.
Companies are getting into becoming the local farm for communities in the area. They plan to open new facilities across the US that serve consumers within a fixed-mile radius. Generally, each farm is modular, like a Lego block. You just need to drop it wherever you want to put a farm. There are these Lego boxes that just have to be put together and installed.
In each region, a company can work with local farmers to incorporate its goods. In New York, for example, they could work with dairy farmers; In Florida, with citrus farmers.
Consumers in each municipality can really feel like they’re part of the community, and see where their food is being grown. It’s similar to a farmers’ market where you go and meet the farmer and see pictures of the operation.
There are no young families strolling through the windswept furrows under the bright sun. While you may capitalize on the demand for local produce, the manufacturing feel of indoor farms is not like the idealized version of what consumers envision. It’s like walking through the facilities of Costco, except that instead of pallets of Huggies or Cheerios, it’s full of beds of plants bathed in purple-hued LED lights.
As your company grows, you will have new crops and products. The industry hopes to grow more challenging crops, like avocados, the system still needs perfecting. While LED efficiency is increasing, the energy it takes to simulate sunlight and maintain proper temperatures is huge.
The next phase of this business is to start making value-added products like salad dressings to get more mileage out of the crops. With this kind of progress, farming moves even further from a traditional farm to an indoor farm.
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