The US Start-Up Helping Indoor Farming Become A Growth Industry
Not so long ago, in the basement of a building in Copenhagen’s trendy meatpacking district, you could find a hydroponic garden growing leafy greens - such as romaine lettuce, pea shoots, and parsley. Oh, and dill, lots of dill. (This is Denmark, after all.)
The project was called the Farm, and it was the brainchild of Space 10, a “future-living lab and exhibition space”. Its remit is to explore possible solutions to major global challenges in order to “create opportunities for a better and more sustainable way of living”. That includes the future of food – and indoor farming in particular.
Hence the Farm – which, in its own way, typifies a shift in thinking about farming methods. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the global population will hit nine billion by 2050. And to feed all those people, food production must increase by 60 to 70 percent by 2050. Little wonder, then, that seemingly radical ideas like indoor farming are being considered as possible solutions.
What makes indoor farming attractive is its resource-efficiency compared with conventional farming methods. In fact, according to Agrilyst, which creates “intelligent indoor farming platforms”, hydroponics requires about 10 times less land and 20 times less water than conventional farming.
The trouble is, indoor farming still gobbles up a lot of energy and resources – which is what makes Agrilyst’s indoor farm-management platform interesting. The US start-up claims it enables farmers to monitor and optimise plant performance, and use fewer resources and less energy in order to produce a greater yield. Another way of putting it is that Agrilyst’s platform helps farmers become more sustainable and profitable.
The platform tracks and analyses indoor farm data in one place – enabling farmers to monitor and maintain optimal plant performance, and therefore reduce operating expenses. In particular, farmers receive real-time analytics and data aggregated from hardware, such as crop sensors, as well as lab results and spreadsheets.
At the same time, Agrilyst uses the data aggregated on the platform, coupled with academic research and industry knowledge, to develop new solutions for optimising performance. Its aim is therefore to make indoor farming easier, greener, and more productive.
From an environmental perspective, the platform’s appeal is apparent: it uses data analytics and recommendations to help indoor farmers to reduce energy and resource use. The economic case is clear, too: by aggregating data from indoor farms around the world, Agrilyst provides growers with insight and intelligence to improve performance – in turn helping to increase yield and profits.
Critically, the social aspect stems directly from this: by increasing yield and quality, indoor farmers can provide their communities with better tasting, healthier, and safer produce, while contributing to the global need for increased food production.
Platforms such as Agrilyst’s seem to make it easier than ever for farmers to say hello to hydroponics. Indeed, if you’ll excuse the pun, indoor farming is fast becoming a growth industry. Experiments in indoor farming may be taking place in the basement of buildings in Copenhagen. But they won’t be underground for much longer.
This innovation is part of Sustainia100; a study of 100 leading sustainability solutions from around the world. The study is conducted annually by Scandinavian think-tank Sustainia that works to secure deployment of sustainable solutions in communities around the world. This year’s Sustainia100 study is freely available at www.sustainia.me – Discover more solutions at @sustainia and #100solutions