Agricultural startups utilizing shipping containers.
The versatility shipping containers present in commercial applications has spread to the agricultural industry. Startups throughout the country are creating great products from shipping containers to address needs in urban and rural areas. Utilizing solar panels, monitoring sensors, WiFi, smartphones, and better irrigations systems these companies are creating better crop yields while meeting market needs. All at the same time showing great potential for profit.
Two startups in Alaska are creating “Vertical Farms” that can grow up to 1,800 plants in a 40-foot shipping container. In larger applications, this design can grow up to 20,000 plants in 5,000 square feet, or up to four plants per square foot. Why, you ask? Alaska imports 95% of its food from the lower 48 states. Meaning that Alaskans pay a premium for food that we take for granted. Therefore, in order to help supplant this need for imported food. It is possible that these “Vertical Farms” can grow food, especially during the winter months, and sell it at a cheaper price. Right now they are selling these units for $100k a piece.
Another startup company from Boston, Freight Farms, are also converting shipping containers into hydroponic farms. Even with little to know experience, somebody with the money and determination (2 day training course) can utilize this product to grow without the traditional farming equipment. The difference highlighted with the “Leafy Green Machine” is that it is loaded with sensors connected to the cloud. Enabling the system to adjust the artificial environment as needed from their smartphones. Limiting the need for an operator to labor over all of the settings themselves. Furthermore, Freight Farms states that one of their containers will yield the same amount of crop as an acre of land while using 90% less water. All for the cost of about $80,000 per container.
Another company, Farm from a Box, is looking to take community farming to the next level. Utilizing 10, 20, and 40-foot shipping containers to create a self-sustaining farming toolkit. Equipped with solar modules these units are capable of generating, distributing, and storing power for off-grid farming that can be utilized all over the world. Additionally, each unit has a system for water distribution and built in WiFi. The difference between these units and the previous two is that this is built for producing crops on 2.5 acres of land. This increases the overall crop yield per unit but needs the land to do so. The cost per nit in this case are in the range of $25,000 to $45,000.
It is easy to see that shipping containers are not only limited to residential and commercial real estate. Smart, innovative, and determined individuals are finding ways to create economic value. They find that utilizing shipping containers helps them get to where they want to go. It will be interesting to see what new ideas lie ahead.
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