Indoor farming could usher in a dramatic shift in the way humans grow food, taking the natural and unpredictable processes of traditional farming and transitioning them to a process as tightly run as a Broadway play.
Challenges include hiring an adequate number of technical experts, securing the funds to build out massive warehouses and greenhouses, and paying to install and operate the expensive slate of tech—from automation hardware and software, to sensors, to tens of thousands of LED lights—needed to monitor and maintain crops.
But perhaps the biggest challenge is energy consumption. This is especially true for vertical farms in particular.
“A lot of these light companies are really making good strides with efficiency and driving down costs, which is a big component, probably the biggest component, of these companies becoming profitable,” Alex L. Frederick, senior emerging technology and venture capital analyst at Pitchbook, told Emerging Tech Brew. “The cost from lighting has been the biggest kind of production cost over the past couple decades. It's still a very significant cost for indoor growing facilities, indoor growing operators, but it's coming down a lot,” he added.
Indoor farming is dependent on energy-intensive systems like LED lamps, HVAC air-conditioning systems to circulate and control the temperature, water-filtration systems to circulate and purify the water used to hydrate or mist plants, and, in some cases, a closed-loop system of fish habitation and waste management to gather nutrients from fish and turn them into fertilizer for plants.
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