Growing food in recycled shipping containers is becoming more popular as more people become interested in finding alternatives to large farms. Modern mega farms have a big ecological footprint due to their water, fertilizer and pest control needs. When plants are grown indoors, they are not affected by adverse weather conditions that can destroy the crops. As they are in smaller spaces and have automated systems taking care of them, less workers are needed. Less time, less energy, less cost, less resources and less negative environmental impacts actually mean more benefits of inexpensive and eco-friendly nutritious food.
Some of these shipping container farms use hydroponic farming methods. Hydroponics involves growing plants in a water-based and nutrient-rich system. The roots are embedded in substances such as clay pellets, peat moss, vermiculite or other similar materials instead of in soil. Even with a hydroponic system, these plants that are grown in shipping containers can use up to 97 percent less water and no pesticides. Energy for plant growth is provided by LED lights that are set to specific wavelengths and strength.
Aeroponics involves growing plants without soil in a humid and nutrient-rich environment. Instead of being immersed in a water-based solution, these plants are inserted into hanging panels with their roots dangling loose in the air. A nutrient solution is misted over the roots in certain timed cycles. As in the hydroponic systems used in storage containers, these plants are energized by LED lights set to specific wavelengths and intensities.
Practical Uses For Storage Container Farms
These types of storage container farms are ideal for use in businesses and schools that have cafeterias. They take up a minimum of space, use mostly automation, require minimal water and no pesticides and produce food in a short amount of time. These businesses and schools would benefit with the acquisition of nutritious and safe food, and schools especially could use the farms as learning modules. This method of growing plants can also be used on a smaller scale in providing astronauts in space with fresh produce.
There are many positives to using this alternative method of growing produce. Large farms are more harmful to the environment and often use extreme amounts of toxic chemicals and pesticides. Agricultural runoff can harm local waterways. Many workers are required to take care of the plants and harvest them, and the weather is always a concern. When using storage containers, these issues are no longer problems. If the power goes out, a generator can provide needed power. As the earth’s population continues to increase, it becomes more important to find better and more efficient farming methods.
Davenport Laroche is a leading shipping container investment agency based out of Hong Kong.