Proponents of indoor farming have touted its benefits. For example, it is celebrated for its reliable harvest and year-round crop production since it eliminates the adverse impact caused by ever-changing climate conditions. Furthermore, since crop production uses vertical spacing and tiered shelves in warehouses or multistorey factory buildings in urban areas, some believe indoor farming can increase the efficiency of land use.
However, amid all the hype surrounding indoor farming, much more needs to be done for it to truly live up to its lofty promises.
First, advanced technology and high levels of energy consumption are required to establish and maintain a controlled environment. Because of the high upfront investment and energy costs, there are concerns regarding the financial viability of indoor farms. The higher production costs also mean that produce from indoor farms is more expensive than traditionally farmed crops.
Second, higher energy consumption means a bigger carbon footprint. Also, the mineral nutrients used in indoor farms are industrially produced at high concentrations. The production process involves mining, chemical synthesis, and transport, which can lead to different types of environmental problems. The nutrient-rich water produced by indoor farms, if not properly disposed of, can contribute to the problem of red tides.
Indoor farming is a nice addition to the existing systems for growing food. However, much more needs to be done to make this nascent sector economically viable and environmentally sustainable.
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