Shipping Container Farms Provide Inner-City Agriculture
On top of climate change issues, Brexit, and the impact of the coronavirus, British farming is facing unprecedented challenges such as how to provide environmentally friendly, locally sourced, and competitively priced food.
According to a report by the Telegraph, answers may lie inside a shipping container located in an east London car park, not far from London’s business district. Behind the steel facade, racks of leafy green vegetables are being grown vertically with innovative hydroponic technology.
The system does away with the need for soil, instead, plugging the veggies into a system of nutrient-rich water and a controlled environment of temperature and lighting. The crops produce lettuces, kale, basil, and many others, full of flavour, but free of pesticides. The hydroponic system uses 95 per cent less water than traditional farming techniques, and a fraction of the space.
The use of the custom-fitted shipping containers means that these self-contained farms can be placed nearly anywhere and that the food production has significantly fewer road miles from the source to your plate.
There has been a boom in indoor farming, particularly in the US, but the UK has yet to capitalise on the opportunities presented, according to Dr Robert Hancock of the James Hutton Institute, which supports innovative vertical farming methods from its facility in Dundee.
“Even with current technologies and current efficiencies, there's probably a lot more that can be done. And I think that indoor farming can interface a lot more with the broader agricultural picture,” he said.
The Environment Secretary, George Eustice has said that vertical farming will play a vital role in helping British agriculture meet the challenges of climate change and post-Brexit food security.
“There are a lot of pressures on land use,” he told the parliamentary environment committee, highlighting ‘the tricky issue’ of repairing biodiversity and soil health in our intensely farmed landscapes.
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