World's largest indoor vertical farm uses 95 percent less water and produces more food

The $30 million vertical farm project will bring 78 new jobs to Newark and fresh pesticide-free produce to New Jersey.

    2015/04/22

NSFW    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY — The world’s largest indoor vertical farm is well on its way to producing millions of pounds of food a year while using less water.

Last December, AeroFarms Inc. secured $20 million in a Series B round of venture funding, paving the way for its 70,000 square foot facility in Newark, New Jersey, which the company says has the potential to produce 2 million pounds of food a year.

Ground was broken on the facility last year and it is now nearing completion. It houses an efficient “aeroponic vertical farm” system that uses 95 percent less water than conventional commercial field farms and 40 percent less than hydroponic farms.

The farm uses no sunlight or soil.

Instead, the plants are housed on shelves and sprout out of a cloth medium made of post-consumer, recycled plastic. Each cloth takes 24 plastic water bottles out of the waste stream.

An aeroponic system mists the plant roots with water, nutrients and oxygen. The closed system allows the farm to use less water.

An LED lighting system is programmed to create a specific light recipe for each plant, giving the greens the exact spectrum, intensity and frequency they need for photosynthesis in the most energy-efficient way possible.

The programmed lights also allow farmers to control the size, shape, texture, color, flavor and nutritional content of the foods produced.

The cloth medium separates the plants from the nutrient-rich mists, allowing for fresh, clean and dry produce to be harvested.

Once harvested, the cloth medium can be fully sanitized and reused on new crops.

Utilizing the aeroponic and LED systems, the scientific farmers can monitor all the macro- and micronutrients of each plant, allowing AeroFarms to grow a plant in half the time of a commercial farm and with more productivity per square foot.

They also tweak and track changes to allow for further improvements to the system.

Currently, AeroFarms has two facilities with the larger 70,000 square foot building nearing completion.

The AeroFarm system is also customizable.

AeroFarms aims to have 25 facilities around the world in five years. The company hopes to build farms in different sizes and configurations to grow food in varied locations with the most efficient yield per square foot, no matter the space.
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