AeroFarms’ food growing method, called aeroponics, requires no dirt, no sun and needs about 95% less water than traditional farming. It also applies 40% less fertilizer, and no pesticides. The company uses rehabilitated buildings, such as warehouses or old industrial plants, instead of constructing sophisticated massive, modern facilities from scratch, which dramatically reduces the property costs.
While about ten years ago, indoor farming was associated with high costs and visions of people in lab coats walking around plants in soil many stories up in the air, the reality today is very different. Companies like AeroFarms are rethinking how we grow fresh and affordable produce through vertical farming.
The technology used in AeroFarms vertical farming derives partly from systems designed to grow crops on the moon. The interior space is its own sealed-off world, where every known influence on the plant’s wellbeing is tracked on a second-by-second basis, measured, adjusted and re-measured, through the collection of hundreds of thousands of data points at each facility. This allows for control of taste, texture, color, nutrition, the shape and size and complexion of the leaves. The collected data also helps the company adjust variables like temperature, humidity, CO2 content of the air, pH and electro-conductivity of the water to optimize its crop yields.
AeroFarms’ long-term plan is to put similar vertical farms in metro areas all over the US and eventually around the world, so that its distribution will always be local, thereby saving transportation costs and fuel. By growing locally year-round and taking advantage of the enthusiasm for the locally grown greens, the company hopes it will be able to provide fresher produce at a lower price point.
The company has raised more than $100m to date, receiving twice the funding of any other indoor farming company so far and has already addressed some of the biggest challenges which were stopping those trying to develop successful models of vertical farming before.
As the world’s population is growing and it is becoming more challenging to feed everyone on the planet, such revolutionary ideas, like the one provided by AeroFarms, if successfully executed may provide a solution to food scarcity threats.