Why the Future of Vertical Farming is Two Decades Ahead of Expectations
Like lab grown meats, Vertical Farming is going to be part of the future of food. For now it might be best to compare them to small scale battery storage on the electrical grid that can help balance out spikes of demand in the system and provide an output directly where needed.
Eventually (like solar, wind and batteries) Vertical Farming will be a normal part of food production. It has a long way to go before it can replace factory agricultuire seen in the broadacre corporate farming. But what it can do and has already shown, is that it is a viable way to grow *some food crops, mainly leafy greens. And now in an entirley unexpected way, Vertical Farming finds itself two decades ahead of where we might expect it to be. Those who’ve read my other articles on here or heard my media presentations know I’ve been talking about vertical farming for about a decade or so. The early photos of the Sky-A-Gro-Gro concept in Singapore is still one of my favourite presentation images. Just recently I read this article by Laura Leavitt which provides an excellent overview of Vertical farming
There are three main reasons Vertical farming is two decades ahead of an expected trajectory we see with the normal slow take off, build up and securing of a market for most start up concepts. Vertical Farming concept, been given a leap forward through doors being opened by a need for a more secure food supply chain. That supply chain has been crunched by #Covid19 with both a loss of workforce through so many unfortunate deaths, and people no longer choosing to work in precarious spaces, or a loss of key parts of the transport supply chain reducing the flow of goods. Vertical Farms require much less people power in terms of getting food to market
The improved awareness of food transport challenges highlights how much we have taken easy supply for granted which has triggered our preference for food security. That food security means our second reason is ‘closer to home’ and what can be more ‘closer to home’ than a vertical farm right in the neighbourhood? Vertical Farming requires less transport inputs and also lowers wastage in food loss such transportation and handling requires.
The third main reason is the sudden availability of space in urban environments. Where as currently indoor farms and vertical farms are niche ideas that have been forced onto small disued urban plots or found space in a urban-industrial spaces that are financially viable in terms of rental costs, now the options are about to become available in abundance. A model constrained by location costs for suitable site availability is about to have a huge influx of near reverse demand. That demand is going to be driven by commercial property trusts and property managers who are set to hit the panic button en masse. For commercial property managers and property fund managers in Melbourne and Sydney (and in other cities around the world), the numbers are in. People do not want to come back to the office as they once did. HR directors are finally accepting that work from home works, and CFO’s have finally looked at the exorbitant money spent on Sqm of office space in cities verticals that is no longer needed. That saved money goes straight to the bottom line in profit
And what pray the tell could you use those vast caverns of redundant office space for? The future space has opened up for vertical farms far quicker and in a decidedly unexpected way. Like the now rapid uptake of lab grown proteins, Vertical Farming is about to have it’d day in the non-sun!
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