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Is vertical farming profitable?

Is vertical farming profitable?

Sustainable Investing

Lately it appears not so much.

Brooklyn’s Upward Farms, a vertical farm in East Williamsburg growing salad greens using aquaponics, is laying off its 78 employees and closing down.

In addition to producing microgreens, the Brooklyn facility, a single-story building at 181 Lombardy St., also raised striped bass. Upward Farms raised a total of $141 million from investors including Recharge Thematic Ventures, White Buffalo Capital and Harmonix Fund. (www.upwardfarms.com)

Vertical farming is a relatively new approach to agriculture that involves growing crops in vertically stacked layers using controlled-environment agriculture technology. This method is an innovative solution to the traditional way of farming, which often requires large areas of land, favorable weather conditions, and high water usage. Vertical farming, on the other hand, can become implemented in urban areas. And it uses less water and space, making it a more sustainable and efficient way of producing food.

The concept of vertical farming dates back to the early 1900s when a scientist named William Frederick Gericke conducted experiments with hydroponics, a method of growing plants in water instead of soil. Gericke’s experiments demonstrated that plants could grow well without soil, and this led to the development of modern hydroponics, which is now a key component of vertical farming. However, it was not until the 1990s that the idea of vertical farming began to take shape.

In 1999, Dickson Despommier, a professor of environmental health sciences at Columbia University, popularized the idea of vertical farming in his book, “The Vertical Farm: Feeding the World in the 21st Century.” In his book, Despommier argued that vertical farming could become the solution to the growing problem of food insecurity. Especially in urban areas, with limited land for agriculture.

Since then, vertical farming has evolved significantly, and the technology has become more advanced. The introduction of LED lighting, for instance, has made it possible to provide plants with the exact spectrum of light they need to grow, while the use of sensors and automation technology has made it easier to monitor and control the growing environment.

Vertical farming is now a rapidly growing industry, with many companies and entrepreneurs investing in the technology. In the US, the market size for vertical farming valued at $403.5 million in 2020. And it is projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2027. In Asia, vertical farming is also gaining popularity, with countries like Japan, Singapore, and China leading the way.

One of the benefits of vertical farming is its ability to produce fresh produce all year round, regardless of the weather conditions outside.

This means that crops can be grown locally and consumed locally, reducing the need for long-distance transportation and storage. Additionally, vertical farming uses significantly less water than traditional farming, making it a more sustainable way of producing food.

Despite its many benefits, vertical farming still faces some challenges. One of the main challenges is the high initial cost of setting up a vertical farm, which can be a barrier to entry for small farmers. Another challenge is the need for a reliable source of electricity to power the LED lights and other equipment used in vertical farming.

In conclusion, the idea of vertical farming has been around for over a century, but it is only in recent years that the technology has advanced enough to make it a viable solution to the problem of food insecurity. Vertical farming offers many benefits, including year-round production, reduced water usage, and the ability to grow crops in urban areas. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see more and more vertical farms popping up in cities around the world, providing fresh produce to local communities and contributing to a more sustainable food system.

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Is vertical farming profitable?