Capitals get injected into indoor farming, but open fields might be better for innovation

When a hurricane in Florida and a virus in California killed a promising lettuce bounty late in 2022, and earlier this year, some hobbyists turned to indoor farms to supply their winter fuel of hearty salads.

Indoor farming is something venture firms have deemed the future of agriculture. Armed with temperature control, hydroponics, and controlled environments, indoor farms can better shield crops from weather disturbances and pests.

With its potential to disrupt one of the oldest human endeavors, indoor farming has emerged as a venture capital cash crop in recent years. Indoor farming startups alone captured around 20% of the total $4.5 billion venture investors plowed into agtech startups in 2022, Crunchbase data shows.

But the limitations of indoor farms — which often confine themselves to growing leafy greens in small quantities — hamper their potential to grow. The vast majority of food is still grown on open farms (52% of the U.S. is open farmland), and most investors continue to concentrate their efforts on applying cutting-edge technology to these famously low-tech and tech-resistant operations.


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