World hunger and food security remain pressing issues in today's society. With a diminishing amount of farmable land and an increase in global population, indoor agriculture can help with the challenges that lie ahead. Indoor agriculture will play a key role in meeting the need for more food, and the technologies these facilities adopt will open up a wealth of capabilities, jobs, and alternative investment opportunities that redesign both urban and agricultural landscapes.
There are a variety of ways to produce crops indoors, including vertical farming, aquaponics, hydroponics, and aquaculture. Each production system has different qualities, although they all need indoor facilities, which can lower environmental impacts sometimes associated with traditional outdoor farming. Some of these indoor facilities can include greenhouses, storage containers, refurbished warehouses, and other building structures.
3 Benefits of Indoor Farming
LED grow lighting has been a central part of managing commercial greenhouses to continually improve crop quality and optimize production to meet market demands. Urban Ag News cites Swedish-based greenhouse Spisa Smaker AB and their lettuce growth as a great example. Under LED light bars, the company was able to grow lettuce with red pigment that turns red in only five days, as opposed to outdoor production during winter months which takes much longer to produce red pigment. Lettuce production has increased, and the greenhouses found electricity savings of 48% with LED lights.
Indoor facilities are able to eliminate water waste, by recycling the same water throughout their operation. For example, hydroponic operations use a closed-loop irrigation system that results in saving over 50% of water usage and uses less fertilizer, while not introducing pollutants into groundwater and soil.
Indoor agriculture reduces risk in the food supply chain. Volatility decreases the closer you get to the supermarket shelf. Plus, a large food trend today is eating local. If empty warehouses in a city are converted to be utilized for indoor farming, chances are those crops are being consumed locally. These products may never make it on the supermarket shelf and end up at local farmer's markets or high restaurants, instead, which lessens the food supply chain risk even more.