Swapping tractors for computer tablets: Is the future of farming digital and indoors?

aeroponics
Image: Robotics Business Review

Workers at Bowery Farming’s warehouse near New York have swapped out a farmer’s hoe for a computer tablet that takes real-time readings of light and water conditions.

Launched in 2015, Bowery is part of the fast-growing vertical farming movement, which employs technology in a controlled, man-made setting to grow  indoors all year long.

The company’s chief executive and co-founder, Irving Fain, said his company’s Kearny, New Jersey site uses fewer resources than traditional farms and does not employ pesticides.

Vertical farming has long been practiced in Japan and some other places but it did not take off in the United States until recent technological leaps made it viable.

Related article:  Viewpoint: World must embrace CRISPR, synthetic biology to boost food production in the face of climate change

The world’s biggest vertical  is in Newark, New Jersey and operated by AeroFarms. The company, founded in 2004 and considered a pioneer in the sector, remains privately-held and does not disclose financial data. But the company says it is now profitable after a series of fumbles.

In a warehouse that was once a steel mill with 40-foot ceilings, the company is growing kale and arugula leaves set in rows of 12 metal racks each. The roots are suspended in the air as they are intermittently irrigated while the leaves bask under LED lights.

Read full, original article: Tech connection boosts NY vertical farmers

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