With traditional farming industries proving to be less sustainable every year, finding new methods of growth and distribution are key to a healthy planet. This need has allowed for many new technologies to emerge, presenting options that are viable for a wide range of small business owners, communities, and traditional farmers themselves.
Portable farms in shipping containers combine cutting-edge technology with modern agriculture, producing an outcome that's beneficial for the environment, while generating economic growth and competition. However, readers may be cautious to accept the growing trend on word alone.
To give you an idea of what benefits these portable farms can offer, here are a few things to consider that can lend some insight:
How Do Portable Farms in Shipping Containers Work?
Essentially, a shipping container is reused and outfitted with certain components to ensure optimal farming conditions. For example, a stainless steel workbench allows for plating and harvesting while standing, and a vertical crop column is installed to allow maximum growing sites and easy management. A system of LED lights are setup to offer ideal amounts of light to each unit so that photosynthesis can occur, and a state-of-the-art irrigation system is used to provide essential nutrients to the crops without wasting large amounts of water. It's estimated that these irrigation system use 98% less water than traditional farming methods. Lastly, the container is equipped with environmental sensors that monitor water levels, climate, and lighting conditions. These sensors are controlled by an app that allows farmers to implement their changes in real-time.
Once crops are planted and all systems are up and running, owners can grow up to 150 lbs of produce a week. Even better, the harvesting process is made simple by easy transport of the container to any desired location. Farmer's markets, small businesses, restaurants, and grocery chains can all take advantage of healthy, sustainable produce delivered to their doorstep. Not to mention, this new process helps boost the economy, while improving the quality of both food and health.
The Main Benefits of Portable Farms in Shipping Containers
Aside from the ability to grow a large amount of crops within such a short time-span, there are plenty of other benefits that portable farms in shipping containers offer to the world.
From an environmental standpoint, the amount of waste produced and energy use to accommodate a portable farm is minuscule in comparison to factory farms. On average, the U.S. alone generates over 335 million tons of "dry matter" waste every year from mainstream farming practices. Along with that, the U.S. wastes over $160 billion a year in produce according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Keep in mind, this number does not include the wasted amount acquired from dairy products. Needless to say, the ecological footprint of the portable farm method is incredibly smaller and more manageable.
Each unit can produce the same crop yield as a 2 acre plot of land. The compact size and isolation of the container can even produce healthier, organic foods, simply by eliminating the need for harmful chemicals. The container itself serves as a protective barrier that maintains a 94% success rate of marketable quality. Plus, any crop can be grown throughout the entire year, rather than shifting resources and direction according to the seasons.
As for the economy, the business model allows for easy shipment between farmers and consumers. The amount of overhead it takes to rig a container and drive it across the country comes nowhere close to the resources needed to harvest millions of acres within a certain period of time. That being said, low overhead on delivery, increased output, and the influx of competition means cheaper sale prices. Eating clean and organic food is no longer a luxury afforded to upper and middle-class shoppers, and now, all communities can take advantage of a better overall health.
More than anything, a major upside to portable farming is that anyone can grow their own food. The technology is made simple so that young entrepreneurs, families, adventurous couples, or farmers looking for new ideas can find success.
Are There Any Risks Involved?
Of course, there are always issues that can surface with new innovation, but the risks of portable farming in shipping containers are mainly related to the integrity of the container and its equipment. For example, outfitting a shipping container with vital tools means that everything involved must function properly for crops to grow. This requires diligent maintenance and updates to keep things running smoothly. In addition, the container itself could have structural damage preventing healthy operations. Making sure the unit is entirely stable is key to a successful farm, so monitoring the exterior, the interior light, heat, and layout will provide the best results.
The Future of Farming: Less is More
As with any new business idea, conducting strong market research and gauging the financial future is important. Disrupting the current agricultural market is no small task, but opportunities like portable farms offer a new hope for everyone involved. Pushing the limitations of the planet with traditional farming practices clearly has its drawbacks, so why not utilize technology and improve our relationship with nature in a wholly beneficial way? By using shipping containers that are constructed off-site, container modifications will continue to increase our agricultural sustainability efforts.
With portable farms in shipping containers, less is certainly more. By increasing productivity in a safe space, it becomes much easier to restore the parts that are in danger.