Are Shipping Containers the Future of Urban Farming?
All evidence seems to suggest so! Containerised hydroponic farming units are now capable of growing much larger harvests throughout the year using much less.
Hydroponics refers to a technique of growing plants with no soil. Instead, the nutrients and minerals necessary for their growth are dissolved in water and the roots of the plants are exposed to this solution. This is a technique currently being used by private owners and businesses across the world to grow a variety of produce, from leafy greens like lettuce to herbs, strawberries and mushrooms.
Using this technology, farmers grow acres worth of produce in a fraction of the space. In fact, a single 40 ft container fitted with hydroponic equipment can produce up to 3000 heads of lettuce a month! Additionally, farming inside an artificial and insulated unit protects the plants from seasonal changes and adverse weather, which means that this harvest can be repeated 12 months a year – 36,000 heads of lettuce, for those counting. And since the container is sealed, there is no need to spray the plants with poisonous pesticides, which leads to healthier food.
This is all possible because the conditions that affect a plant’s growth can be controlled in a hydroponic unit. It is fitted with grow lights (which provide artificial sunlight), planting racks and a heating/ventilation system. It is also fitted with fitted with a monitoring system that checks all the required parameters, such as temperature, humidity, CO2 levels in the atmosphere, etc. These numbers are fed to a control system which can be accessed by web or from a smartphone. A live webcam feed ensures that farmers can tune in anytime to see how their crops are growing.
All of these factors make hydroponic units a boon to countries with low rainfall and a dry climate, like the UAE. They are also an ideal food solution for cruise ships, offshore companies and military camps. Restaurants use such units to ensure a consistent supply of local, fresh, high quality produce.
Smartbox is an industry expert in modular construction using shipping containers. We repurpose these containers into specialised units for hydroponics, water treatment and energy generation as well as into offices and living spaces, according to the needs of our clients. If you want to know more about containerised hydoponic units, please contact us here.
Image: interiors of hydroponic units built by SmartBox