A world reinvented via a virtual lens is becoming a more enticing reality of our time. The virtual reality market is growing fast and clocked in at $4.8 billion in 2021 and is only going up from there with the market projected to reach $12 billion by 2024. The Metaverse, a network of 3D virtual worlds centered around social connection, holds serious potential to penetrate just about every industry that we know, and Indoor Agriculture is no exception.
Big corporations and entrepreneurs alike are jumping in with massive investments and plans within the Metaverse hoping to secure their slice of the pie. Education, learning, and transporting an environment to anywhere anytime are extremely attractive opportunities of evolution for sectors.
● The agricultural ministry of South Korea has created metaverse content based on the widely popular "Minecraft" game. Virtual tours of agriculture museums, smart farms, and government institutions are available in the metaverse-based game in hopes to promote the value of agriculture to the millennial and Z generations.
● Plato Farm, an NFT platform, launched an immersive farming metaverse where players are tasked with growing crops and rearing livestock. For doing so, they receive rewards in the form of MARK and PLATO tokens.
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What opportunities can the Metaverse bring to Indoor Ag?
According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, the indoor farming technology market will reach a value market of 24.8 billion USD by 2026. Indoor farmers are investing in tech to simplify and optimize all processes of indoor growing from seed to consumption while also bettering sustainability.
The virtual world has the potential to offer a lot to Indoor Ag with more and more growers jumping into the industry and increased importance on food security and the need for more sustainable agriculture. The elevation of learning and education is a compelling benefit the Metaverse can offer, and we can already see big plans for the future on this front. So what’s in it for Indoor Ag?
Indoor farming education reimagined and widespread with the Metaverse
Indoor farmers are already utilizing AR (augmented reality) technologies to digitize and monitor plant biology, progression, and data. The metaverse could be a powerful tool used to make that tracking available anytime and reinvented into intricate education on the indoor farming industry. Offering micro-learning information in real-time, augmented reality reduces training time and allows farmers to learn on the go.
Indoor farmers can be trained and taught from anywhere in the world in a more immersive, interactive, and clear way. Education can be adapted and customized by language, environment, and in many other ways.
In addition, new entrants of the industry or just buyers of indoor ag equipment could see a future of experiencing their new container farm, hydroponics farm, etc., in a virtual but realistic way from anywhere, a step on from the virtual tours that companies like Urban Crops Solutions already provide. Technology offered by the Metaverse could allow farmers to understand the workings of their farming purchases, their needs, and the functions early on. Designing and developing your farm while being able to track costs, space and storage, and equipment needed in real-time. Later on, it could help to train much-needed plant scientists, regardless of where they’re located.
Trade shows, conferences and communities
Community building in the Metaverse is one of the prominent possibilities companies and sectors are looking into. Big names like Nike and Skechers, who just filed 8 trademarks pointing to selling virtual merch, are banking on the idea of building communities through their brand and products. However, community building for Indoor Ag could look a little different. Trade shows and conferences could potentially translate their community building and learning functions to the Metaverse. Hosting trade shows, conferences, and live panels within the Metaverse makes them more accessible and more available. Investors and newcomers can tap into these trade shows even after they have happened and experience them from anywhere in the world.
AmHydro is already working on bringing their interactive hydroponic farming seminars to the Metaverse.
AmHydro, which designs and builds hydroponic systems, has been tapping into technology innovation since the beginning to bring growers successful CEA farming models.
AmHydro shared “We have been refining the technology that is the intersection of proper horticultural practices, space-use efficiency, and positive economics. This is where most indoor farming models struggle. We continue to develop and innovate higher levels of environmental/nutritional management for premium quality crop production. We couple this horticultural management with proper material handling, plant movement, and ergonomic efficiencies to produce crops that are not only higher quality than what is currently available, but also done so at a cost point that allows them to be market competitive.”
As an industry player, and one who expresses “There is, and will continue to be, a wide range of diverse approaches and technologies that will constitute our food production models” we posed the questions:
Do you have any plans for the Metaverse? Do you see the Metaverse as a high potential opportunity for the indoor ag industry?
AmHydro’s VP Joe Swartz responded, “We have already begun to work with a technology firm to create live interactive communications with growers, both to evaluate their current conditions and crops for diagnostic purposes, but also for real-time communication, demonstration and training for those growers. I do feel that it has great potential for distant/remote communications, but I am concerned that many will focus on the technology itself, rather than the tool that it is, and not realize the full potential of its use and value.”
AmHydro is utilizing tech to drive their mission of providing sustainable hydroponic solutions while also breaking the notion that “there is a “singular” technology or methodology that will be the “solution” for our food production challenges.”
While opinions on technology are steadily changing, optimism for the Metaverse and virtual tech in the indoor ag industry, is high. It's compelling to believe there is more to gain than lose if indoor ag becomes more tightly knitted to the virtual world. For now, we are still in the pre-mature stages of all the Metaverse could offer Indoor Ag but with the two markets growing fast, growers jumping in sooner than later will see the most return on their efforts.
Ready to break into the Indoor Ag Industry? Reach out to the indoor farm financing team of Contain Inc.