Indoor farming— 10 things you need to know
Curious about indoor farming? You’ve come to the right place.
Indoor farming is an incredibly complex industry, surrounded by many unknowns and misconceptions. We know how challenging that can be. So, we set out to provide detailed insight about the state of the industry today — what growers are doing, their challenges, and how they see their field changing over the next few years.
We surveyed growers from around the world and received over 150 responses. You can check out the full State of Indoor Farming report here.
If you don’t have time to dig deep, don’t worry. Here are the 10 things you need to know:
1. Indoor farmers are confident about their future profitability.
For the most part, farmers believe the crops they grow are the most profitable, and they plan to stick with them. Greens and herbs/microgreens top the list of crops growers believe are most profitable to grow. We found that while many growers agree cannabis is hugely profitable, most do not plan to grow it in the near future.
2. Cannabis is the highest revenue generating crop.
Cannabis farmers are generating $112 per square foot in revenue. That’s $4.8 million per acre. Greens were ranked next, generating $64 per square foot or $2.8 million per acre.
3. Farming indoors is far more productive than outdoor fields.
Indoor horticulture (greens, microgreens, herbs, and vine crops) is 170 times more productive than outdoor fields. Growing indoor cannabis is 9,000x more productive than growing outdoor commodity crops, like corn and wheat.
4. Indoor means faster growth times and more harvest cycles.
Indoor farmers have the unique ability to create ideal climactic environments. This means growing seasons can be extended and seed-to-harvest time can be decreased. Indoor lettuce growers, for example, will have four times as many crop turns as outdoor growers in a given year.
5. Indoor yields more.
Indoor growers yield 10–15 times more than outdoor farms. We found that 63% of the yield increase is due to an increase in productivity from growing indoors, while 37% of the yield increase is due to extra crop turns from growing indoors.
6. The organic factor is complex.
Half the farmers we surveyed reported growing organically, though only 8% said they were certified as USDA Organic. Of those not certified, 47% indicated interest in obtaining the certification.
7. Growers are actively investing in technology.
Growing in a climate controlled environment enables growers to realize massive efficiency gains by implementing small changes. As a result, indoor growers have large budgets and are investing in technologies to improve operations, yield, and crop quality.
8. Data matters.
Indoor growers recognize the benefits of accurate actionable insights. In fact, 90% of growers believe data analytics will increase crop yields.
9. The market is growing fast.
Growers have big plans, with 86% of growers planning to expand their operations in the next five years.
10. This growth will expand the market by billions.
Indoor vegetable growers project adding between 8.5 and 16.5 million square feet of new growing area in the next five years — the minimum planned expansion is 4.7x larger than current farm size. We estimate this growth contributing between $3.7 and $6.8 billion to the market.