Why vertical farming falls short of the hype

Enough vertical farms have been put into operation that early data can offer a suggestion of how that idea is going to work out.

Full disclosure: I never thought they made sense on any level other than futuristic fantasy. Like monorails. Multi-story buildings filled with produce in the heart of a city were such seductive images that believers bet technology could solve all the messy details like economics, thermodynamics, and agronomy if we just tried hard enough.

While there are some operational vertical farms, and this could be the ugly period most new technology struggles through, it appears the industry could go the way of other capital-eating startups. Vertical farming could be the Segway of agriculture, falling way short of the hype.

Some of the obstacles are obvious – energy use being top of the list. While LED cost and efficiency triggered the whole concept of growing stuff indoors by lowering growing-light costs, it’s still an order of magnitude more expensive than free solar outdoors in someplace like Arizona.

Read more at agweb.com

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