Indoor Farming 101
Indoor Farming or Controlled-Environment Agriculture (CEA) is a form of urban agriculture, which is the practice of “...cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city” (Wikipedia). There are a variety of indoor farm configurations ranging from small home units that grow fifty plants at a time to large commercial farms capable of growing millions of plants in a year. Regardless of capacity, the objective of an indoor farming system is control of the growth environment (light, nutrition, temperature, humility) to optimize plant growth.
The practice of growing plants indoors dates to Roman times and has traditionally been represented by modern greenhouses. Over the past five years, significant advances have occurred in the growth of certain vegetables (especially, green leafy ones) and fruit using indoor farming technology. These advances have been led by the evolution of LED lighting; research that identified the ideal growth environment of certain plants; new plant varieties developed to grow indoors; and the development of computer applications that control and monitor all aspects of an indoor farm’s operations. In the coming years, additional advances in indoor farming technology and the development of new plant varieties could radically improve world food production.
A commercial indoor farm is an integrated, self-contained facility. It is composed of computer hardware and software that manages all production processes, LED grow lights, grow panels/trays, seed and growth medium (soil is not used in the growth process), pumps and sensors, packaging facilities, cold storage, and a bio room to minimize pests.
The primary technologies used in a commercial indoor farm are aeroponics and hydroponics. Aeroponics delivers nutrients in a mist. Hydroponics works by submerging plant roots in water filled with dissolved nutrients. Both technologies use LED lighting and computer applications to monitor and control the growth environment. Queen City Farms will use an hydroponics system to grow crops.
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