A Growing Trend: Vertical Farms
A Simplified Supply Chain
Supply chains and agricultural production have been thrown off balance during the ongoing pandemic. Vertical farms offer a way to simplify agriculture. At a vertical farm, plants grow in water or misted air instead of soil. They rely on LED lights in place of sunlight, and much of the care for these plants is automated.
Because conditions are easy to control, these farms are not subject to changes in weather and soil, which can cause problems for traditional farms. Vertical farms also deliver products without pesticides and soil contaminants.
An Alternative Use for Urban Real Estate
Vertical farms tend to be in tall buildings in urban centers. This means that food is grown close to the population that will be consuming it, so transportation costs are reduced.
Urban office towers are facing an uncertain future due to the ongoing pandemic which has kept more people working from home. According to Moody’s Analytics REIS, office vacancies in the country’s 82 biggest metropolitan areas will rise by 19.3% by the end of the year, and that number will likely keep climbing. Vertical farms could offer an alternative use for vacant office buildings.
So far, vertical farms have had success growing herbs and leafy greens. Now, companies are looking to expand and find ways to grow root vegetables like carrots and potatoes, vine vegetables like green beans and tomatoes, and bush fruits like blueberries and raspberries.
At the moment, vertical farms are unlikely to gain an advantage over traditional farms for crops like grains and orchard-grown fruits. However, the combination of disrupted supply chains and reduced demand for office real estate is creating fertile ground for vertical farms.
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