Are sustainable indoor farms a promising enterprise?

Agriculture, though visibly green, isn't necessarily always environmentally friendly. Cultivating a lucrative crop typically requires patience, pesticides, water, carbon-emitting equipment and adventageous weather. In addition, many fruits and vegetables can only be harvested in specific climates, limiting the places they can be produced. Consequently, that means that some foods that only grow in one location must be shipped across the globe.

One Netherlands-based organization believes that it can solve all of these problems while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, ironically, with modern, research-based greenhouses. PlantLab, a private research company, has developed a system of indoor harvesting that not only lessens energy consumption compared to traditional cultivation, it also produces the same amount of food in half the time.

Outdoor crops heavily rely on natural sources like the sun, the Earth's rotation and its climate, but PlantLab challenged the efficiency of those conventional conditions. With its research, the company created a more ideal environment for crops, which is primarily based around LED lamps.

Using high-tech computers, researchers gathered more than 160,000 reports per second to determine the precise amount and type of light that was best for each plant. The system PlantLab devised uses mostly red and blue LED bulbs as the main source of lighting. To simulate night and day, the lights turn on and off at frequencies that are specific to each plant, as their research indicated that a 24-hour cycle isn't optimal for every crop.

Since the plants are housed indoors, there's no need to use pesticides or compensate for unfavorable weather patterns with enormous amounts of water. By using researched-based quantities of water and recycling the excess, PlantLab's model expends 90 percent less water than outdoor agriculture, making its success part of a convincing argument that could lead to the widespread adoption of indoor farms.

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