Bowery, a vertical farming startup, has announced that it’s opening a new, high-tech facility in Kearny, New Jersey.
A vertical farm is a method of growing produce indoors in a configuration that stacks crops vertically, such as in an empty warehouse or skyscraper. Vertical farms often use hydroponics, or a method of growing plants in a water solvent rather than soil, along with artificial lights to imitate sunlight, in order to grow large amounts of produce in a dense environment.
Vertical farming could be a way to increase our food production to meet up with the demands of a growing population while reducing humanity’s dependency on meat and dairy products that have a heavier environmental impact.
Bowery’s new vertical farm might just be the most advanced one yet. It’s expected to be able to produce 30 times as much produce as the startup’s other indoor farm, and will produce leafy greens and herbs for stores like Whole Foods.
The new vertical farm will implement machine learning and robotics to add efficiency to its crop production. The farm’s proprietary software will analyze data to determine the color, texture, and other qualities of the crops produced.
“The software is the brains of the farm,” said Irving Fain, the company’s CEO. Fain added that as the software analyzed the food, it could then make minute changes in light, humidity, and temperature in order to change the resulting produce.
“The level of precision and control is unparalleled,” said Fain.
The new indoor vertical farm will not use pesticides, and is expected to slot in to growing demand for locally-grown produce.
“We see very strong demand nationally and internationally right now for high quality locally produced consistent produce,” said the CEO.
Vertical farms may even help protect food sources from the effects of climate change and hurricanes.
“We’re at the beginning of a very rapid development in the use of indoor controlled facilities for producing vegetables and some fruits,” said Professor Per Pinstrup-Andersen, of the College of Human Ecology of Cornell University. “No matter what happens with climate change, you still have your controlled environment.”
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Lead Image Source: Bowery