Indoor Farming Proponents See Opportunity in Pandemic

Financial Times writers Mure Dickie and Emiko Terazono reported recently that, “The coronavirus pandemic has been a major worry for many British farmers, threatening access to agricultural labour and complicating international supply chains. But for proponents of indoor farming, the crisis has offered an opportunity.

“David Farquhar, chief executive of technology developer Intelligent Growth Solutions, says the pandemic has prompted a spike in interest in ‘vertical farms’, where batches of crops can be individually watered, fed and lit using LED lights, allowing them to be grown year-round with minimal labour near their markets, regardless of local soil or weather conditions.

“At the company’s demonstration farm in Invergowrie near the Scottish city of Dundee, trays of produce stacked in 9 metre-tall towers are managed remotely from seeding to packaging. Humans only need to enter the towers for occasional maintenance. ‘You can run it entirely on robotics . . . You probably need to go in once every six months,’ Mr Farquhar said.”

The FT article noted that, “While agritech investors have been pouring millions of dollars into vertical farm start-ups in the US and Europe, Irving Fain, founder of US vertical farming firm Bowery Farming, said the pandemic had accelerated interest around the world. ‘The simplicity of the supply chain is extremely important,’ Mr Fain said.”

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