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Container Farms


Container Farms are Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) systems which are built in a shipping container to serve the purpose of agricultural production. Target consumers of container farms crops are both can be humans or animals  and systems provides food products from different types of crops (grains, root crops, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits), animals (poultry, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, pigs, guinea pigs, fish, etc.) as well as non-food products (e.g. aromatic and medicinal herbs, ornamental plants, tree products). Container farms are also named and  accepted as indoor farming systems, urban agriculture, peri-urban agriculture (UPA) or vertical farming systems. These container farms utilize artificial control of light, environmental control of humidity, temperature, gases, fertigation and other environmental factors to set an optimal growth medium for plants.

The idea of container farms or indoor farming is not utterly new. Examples of it can be found dating back to the ancient era in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of Philon’s Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built around 600 BC. One of the earliest drawings of a tall building that cultivates food was published in Life Magazine in 1909. The reproduced drawings feature vertically stacked utilities  set by a farming landscape. This proposal can be seen in Rem Koolhaas’s Delirious New York. Koolhaas wrote that this 1909 theorem is ‘The Skyscraper as Utopian device for the production of unlimited numbers of virgin sites on a metropolitan location’.

The idea of growing plants in environmentally controlled areas has existed since Roman times. The Roman emperor Tiberius liked to eat cucumber daily so the Roman gardeners used artificial methods which are similar to the greenhouse system to grow fresh vegetables for him all along the year. And today there are many types of CEA systems for various agricultural crops.

Container farms are shipping containers as shell and insulated according to climate conditions. Used or new shipping containers are both can be used as outer shell but shipping containers strength is important for long lasting. The shipping containers are used for these container farms because they are compact, available to transfer everywhere in the world, they are solid and can be customized as a plug and grow machine.

The current world population of 7.7 billion (according to world metrics info) is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, according to World Population Review’ s report. Nearly all of this population increase will occur in developing countries. Urbanization will continue at an accelerated pace, and about 70 percent of the world’s population will be urban (compared to 49 percent today). Income levels will be many multiples of what they are now. In order to feed this larger, more urban and richer population, food production (net of food used for biofuels) must increase by 70 percent is stated in FAO expert papers.

The amount of land  7.7 billion people need to produce their food every year is about the size of South America. At present, throughout the world, more than 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Traditional agriculture consumes cast amounts of water and wastes over 60% of the 2500 trillion liters it requires every year. That is 42% of world’s accessible water reserves wasted. With all this inefficiency how will we be able to feed next generation?

That’s where indoor farming comes with solution with many crops. Because if agriculture is to continue to feed the world, then it needs to become more like manufacturing. It is already beginning to happen because by farming vertically indoors with container farms or in insulated buildings we can reduce the need for agricultural land and provide an efficient, reliable and clean alternative to food production in cities. This will radically reduce our carbon footprint, and our water usage.

As part of the solution container farms are modular and easy to ship. They ’re compact and self-contained. Residental consumers and small business owners (like restaurants, clinics, spa centers and etc.) can produce their own continuously all year around.  Container farms just have size of shipping container with compact footprint and needs only energy and water to run. Mostly container farms are customized according to meet the customer’ s  requirements.

Producing food indoors with systems like container farms reduces or eliminates conventional plowing, planting, and harvesting by farm machinery, protecting soil. Reducing emissions and container farm can grow different crops 2-20 da of land and food with 90 – 97 % less water. As a theoretical construct on how to deal with a wide variety of environmental issues, specifically how to change the way we grow food, the concept of high efficiency food production required parting ways with modern yet unsustainable practices currently employed in traditional agribusiness.

There seems to be a divergence between those who see the future of vertical farming in high-rise buildings, those who advocate for the development of plant factories, and those who are more invested in the promotion of container farms. The supporters of container farms endorse this design by telling about the benefits of having a farm that is easy to transport, allowing it to be established anywhere. There can be built huge indoor farming factories for massive production to supply local market fresh vegetables need. On the other hand container farms are practical for residential and small and medium size business’ s daily fresh vegetable requirements.

Also if we look into future of agricultural production , in recent years there have been many scientific projects studying the possibility of growing food in space. The EDEN ISS project simulates vertical farming in space using a modified shipping container in Antarctica. The success of projects like the EDEN ISS suggests that using container farms on earth is also be successful.

The point is that people living in urban environments are far distances from farms buy fruits and vegetables from grocery stores that are a week old. Also people who live in harsh climate conditions are away from farms  or have no farms can’t reach to fresh food when they need or want. Container farms are near by the buildings in urban areas means that food can be interspersed locally in each neighbourhood all along the year and freshly harvested whenever required.