Container Farming: A New Way of Agriculture

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container farming

With changing world dynamics, innovations in auto and retail industries, farmers are now reverting to new types of farming systems to produce better quality food and use the resources without wasting them. One of these is Container Farming.

This involves improvements in hydroponic lightening and other technologies growing in Controlled-Environment Agriculture, CEA.

Most of us think of farms as open fields, big blue skies, and large with rows of crops.

However, very few of us think of buildings, and even a small fraction consider shipping containers.

As the world is shifting and getting more populated, humans are innovating new ways to increase the food supply.

Not only today there is less area for farming, but the soil is less nutritious, thus, you can grow container farms.

This has, therefore, forced humans to use more chemicals and fossil fuels to keep growing the food for survival, however, it has negative effects on them.

container farming 1

One of the innovative solutions we have come up with is Container Farming.

Fright farms provide local food supply, leafy green, and food security and also uses innovative farming technology for small businesses.

This article sums up the advantages, types, and disadvantages of using a Container Farm.

Let us dig into it.

Container Farm: Controlled Environment Agriculture CEA

Container farming falls under the umbrella of the term, Controlled-Environment Agriculture, CEA.

This type of agriculture aims to grow food independent of the whims of Nature and therefore creating an environment where farmers are able to control all the conditions.

Moreover, it is very much different from traditional farming.

How? In traditional farms, farmers can only control the produce, when they plant and water requirements.

However, with changing climatic conditions, it is becoming difficult to predict the climate and thus, the risk of damage to crops is greater than before, according to case studies.

CEA is a design that prevents such disasters to happen thereby giving farmers complete control over the entire growing process.

container farming 2

From the soil’s nutrients makeup to how much light and water the plants need, all are controllable.

It is important to note that this is not an entirely new concept.

Greenhouse farms are a form of CEA and have been used for ages.

As with more learning, CEA practices are getting more advanced.

Advantages of Container Farming

You do not need extensive studies to understand why CEA is the future of farming.  This is because:

Improves Productivity: With this type of farming, farmers can easily stack the plants close to one another.

There are systems in places that ensure that each plant gets the nutrients, water, and sunlight to survive.

Therefore, CEA is able to produce more pounds of food per square foot than in traditional agriculture.

Reduction of Dependence: Traditional farms require large fertile land to be successful.

With each year, the nutritious soil is decreasing and therefore falling into the hands of large corporations.

 

Moreover, if we continue to do so, it can lead to devasting problems.

Therefore, farmers are reverting to CEA.

Minimizes the risk of Failed Crops:  As all the aspects are controllable in CEA, there are fewer chances of crops failing.

container farming 3

Moreover, CEA reduces the chances of crop failure and farmers can invest in any season.

Food Availability: Most species of plants require warm, sunny climates to grow, however, a significant portion lives in areas where such weather only comes for shorter periods of time.

However, with CEA, the temperatures are controllable which means that farmers are able to grow plants in any season.

Better Quality Produce: Many factors like quality of water, sunlight, soil condition, and humidity are out of the farmer’s control.

CEA allows farmers to remove these variables and gives them a chance to experiment with new strains of plants.

This allows them to come out with new products and expand their incomes.

Moreover, it allows consumers to get fresh produce readily.

Reduction in Food Miles: Most of the time, the local produce is sent out of the country.

Due to this, there is a large use of carbon-rich fossil fuels and even the locals are not able to get the local produce.

However, in CEA, the local produce is readily available to the people, thereby reducing the environmental pollution.

Types of Container Farms

To understand the possibilities that come with container farms, you will first need to understand the types of them that exist today.

At present, there are 4 types of Container Farms and includes:

Hydroponics: It is a system in which plants ate grown without soil.

Instead, the plant’s roots are suspended either in nutrient-filled water or in something like gravel. There is no need for dirt in this type of CEA.

Aeroponics: This is a system similar to aeroponic farming, which has suspended roots in the air and then sprays them with mist.

types

This mist is filled with the nutrients the plants need.

Aquaculture: Aquaculture type of farming is for plants and animals that live in water.

For example, an oyster farm is an example of aquaculture, to grow plants like seaweed and algae.

Aquaponics: This is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics and aims to mimic a natural underwater ecosystem in which the various organisms feed off one another.

For instance, you can introduce a new fish in this system and their faces can be used to provide nutrients for plants.

Building a Container Farm

This type of Farm is an excellent way of farming and are an exciting part of CEA because they are:

Profitable: These containers can be easily moved, making great farms because they can be easily transported in time of need.

Scalable: It is easy to make another farm, once you make this farm.

You just need to replicate this design to another one.

Durable: The designs of these containers are water and airtight which are able to withstand the harsh conditions of the open seas.

Therefore, if you grow food inside one, you do not need to worry about them getting damaged.

building it

Stackable: As they easily fit on top and next to one another, you can easily stack them together to help you increase the size of your farm.

Cheap and Accessible: You can get these containers for a cheap price and therefore, you can get either a new one or an old one.

Customizable: It is like a blank canvas, therefore, you can remodel it the way you want.

Size: These farms are big enough, you can stack the plants in every corner and still have space to tend to plants.

Moreover, you can tend to plants that are higher up because the containers are not taller than 8′.

Types of Containers

You can choose amongst different types of containers and depends on your needs. These are:

Dry-Freight: This is a standard container, is water-tight and air-tight.

This type of container serves most farms, except if you live in an area with extreme climatic conditions.

Open-Top: These are used for loading grain, coal, and other materials from the top, however, are not practical for farm applications.

Insulated-Containers: These containers are a great option where you can control the temperature.

Moreover, they can be a bit expensive, but you can save the hassle of having to install insulation yourself.

types of containers

Refrigerated-Containers: These are of great choice if you want to control the temperatures.

Moreover, they are a great option when the outdoor farms are not suitable for growing plants.

Ventilated-Containers: This is a type of container in which the airflow is easier to flow through the plants.

Downsides to Freight Farming

Although Container farms have their benefits, however, there are some disadvantages of using them. These downsides are as follows:

Learning Curve: Growing food with CEA, can be a bit daunting task especially if you do not have any prior experience.

However, there are a number of resources available to help you overcome this and build a great container farm.

Cost of Installation: The design of shipping containers is not for farms and therefore, they come with certain features.

Moreover, if you are not careful while designing a container farm, you might not be successful in it.

If it is just for an experiment, make sure to consider your budget so that you do not encounter anything damaging to your farm.

Energy Usage: If you do not take into consideration the type of container you need and the environmental conditions, then you might need to invest more in heating and cooling systems.

This can increase your budget, and if it does not pay off, all your hard work can go in vain.

Local Codes and Regulations: Make sure you are following the local codes and regulations while building a Container Farm.

In comparison to the potential advantages of Container Farms, the disadvantages are fairly insignificant.

However, it is important to know the pitfalls so you can effectively plan your container farm project.

Enjoy your Produce and Learn from Mistakes

This guide enlists the advantages, types, and possible pitfalls of Container Farming.

With this guide, you can now understand the CEA concept and how to make sure you make full use of a container keeping in view the environmental conditions, the type of soil, and other factors that might influence the farm outside the container.

These freight farms provide a great option for growing crops, thus, increasing your farming operations.

Although CEA allows you to control the factors inside the farm, however, plants are still plants and you still need to learn more about them. You will have to be patient and open to learning from your mistakes, and therefore, you will be able to convert a shipping container into a productive Container farming.

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