Is it agriculture or a tech venture? AeroFarms is blurring the lines between the two with its vertical farm. Crops are grown inside, under lights, one on top of the other. The advantages are numerous: higher productivity in a much smaller area; shorter growing times; lower water use; fresh produce grown much closer to where it’s eaten; and, AeroFarm executives say, improved food taste. “On one hand we’re a farming company,” explains Chief Executive David Rosenberg. “On the other hand, we’re a technology company.”
The perfect growing conditions
Technology is central to making a vertical farm work. AeroFarms uses an aeroponic system to provide the right amount of water and nutrients, with temperature and humidity constantly fine-tuned, so that each crop has the perfect growing conditions. As a result, they can grow a variety of produce all year round, defying the seasons. All of this adds up to farms that use 95% less water than traditional ones, while yielding up to 390-times more crops per-square-foot.
Circular and nutritious
And all these wins start with recycled bottles. That’s how AeroFarms make the cloth on which the crops grow, which is also completely reusable. There are benefits both for the environment – including lower carbon emissions as a result of growing crops right in the centre of a city rather than having them transported – and for our health. “One of the most exciting opportunities about changing the environment is improving nutrition,” says Dr. April Agee Carroll, Vice President of Research and Development at AeroFarms. “We know if we can really improve that with different environmental conditions, then we can have a product that’s more nutritious, that can bring a better value to people in their diets as well as really improving human health.”