The demand for fresh fruits and vegetables is increasing exponentially with the increase in population. But, the traditional farming methods are unable to meet this demand due to different challenges, such as water and land scarcity.
Therefore, the world is shifting to Indoor micro-farming, a great alternative to traditional outdoor farming techniques. Even the world is now meeting 70% of its food demand with small farms.
To help you learn more about micro-farms, this article explains the Benefits, Costs, and business opportunities in them.
So, stay focused to learn all these interesting facts!
What is Indoor Microfarming?
Indoor microfarming is a method of growing vegetables, fruits and other crops on a small scale farms entirely indoors. Microfarms are usually present in urban or suburban areas. Even you can convert the spaces like garage, bedroom and shipping container into a microfarm. So, the versatility of microfarms makes them significant in agricultural industry.
The indoor microfarms can control temperature, humidity and other environmental factors inside the farm. Therefore, skilled farmers prefer indoor farming to outdoor farming.
Types Microfarming systems
The interesting fact about micro-farming is that you can do it in diverse ways. Following are some systems that make indoor micro-farming possible.
1. Hydroponic systems:
Hydroponics refers to the cultivation without soil. In this system, plants are grown in nutrient-rich growing media. These media supply essential nutrients, water, and oxygen to the plants.
2. Aquaponic systems:
Aquaponics systems couple aquaculture with hydroponics. This system put the fish to work. Fishes use the nutrients of the hydroponic system and convert them into fertilizers with the help of bacteria. These fertilizers help the plants to grow.
So, if you’re interested in fish farming, an aquaponic system is the best choice for you. But it demands more maintenance.
3. Aeroponic systems:
Such systems don’t use soil or any other aggregate media. Instead, they use air or mist environments to transfer nutrients to plants. This method offers maximum nutrients to plants.
When compared to hydroponic systems, aeroponic systems are not beginner-friendly. It demands control of pH level and nutrient ratio.
Indoor Micro farming: Benefits
Here are some benefits that make micro-farming significant in the agricultural industry:
· Usage of small space: micro-farming enables the growth of essential plants in small spaces.
· Cost-effective: it is a cost-effective and stress-free farming technique. You don’t have to worry about success. You can experiment with a variety of crops to find the best ones for your farm.
· Meets the Increasing food demand: According to a data and measurement firm, 48% of consumers in the USA prefer using local food. Therefore, it becomes vital to increase food production to meet this increasing food demand. Micro farms built in the center of commercial areas are the only solution to this problem.
· Effective use of property: To do microfarming, you don’t need to invest in separate land. You can grow your vegetables in the space you live. Thus, you can also save money with microfarming.
· Profitable business: Microfarming has diverse business opportunities because you can specialize in a niche market. Thus, you can also develop a local customer base and grow your business.
Once you have secured customers, you can expand whenever you want without any fear.
· Good opportunity for Restaurants: Restaurants often buy food products in bulk to meet their customers’ demands. But they had to waste extra products. But if they have local microforms, they can serve their customers food made with fresh raw materials.
Micro-farming Systems Available in the Market
There are a variety of ready-to-install micro-farming systems available in the market. You can choose the one according to the space you can dedicate to the microfarm.
Here are some options for micro-farming systems:
Pure Greens container farms: You can choose this system if you have a 40 ft shipping container.
What will you ready-to-install-install farming systems? You will get
· An automated control system that controls the environmental conditions. You can also monitor this automatic system with your smartphone.
· A recirculating hydroponic system that helps in the reduction of water consumption.
Besides, you can get some DIY options as well. One such option is the Kratky method.
What makes the Kratky method best?
In this system, a netted plot with a growing solutionn is used. The growing solution could be clay balls or coconut coir. After putting the plant in the netted pot, it is then placed in a water-filled reservoir.
This method is the first choice for the farmers because
· It doesn’t require pumps.
· You don’t need to change the nutrient solution frequently.
· Farmers don’t need to be skilled to implement this method.
However, this system has some limitations as well. For instance,
· This method is suitable for leafy plants. Plants with fruits and flowers need more attention.
· The pH levels of water need to observe closely.
Costs of Indoor farming
The cost of an indoor farming system depends on the type and size of the operation.
Firstly, you have to buy the system. Or you can also buy the raw material to construct the DIY system. You may need pipes, pumps, and tubs to construct a new system.
Some other things that you need for an effective system are:
· Light fixtures (to enable photosynthesis)
· LED lights (invest in high-efficiency bulbs for effective energy use)
· Fish costs, such as food and tank
· Planting material is also required once your plant is ready to grow
· Cost of nutrients and growing solutions since you have to replace the soil. You need growing solutions to support plant roots. Whereas nutrient solution provides essential nutrients to plants.
The reliance on micro-farming on these artificial light sources is adding the cost to the system.
However, micro-farming is more effective because of efficient water usage. Aquaponic systems use 10gallons and aeroponic and hydroponic systems use 4 gallons of water per square foot.
How can you make Microfarm profitable?
Follow the steps below to make your micro-farming business profitable:
Do proper research:
Your microfarm will not be profitable if the plant you’re growing is not in demand. So, meet with owners of grocery stores and chefs first and try to know if they need your crop.
Here are some tips to make your business profitable:
· Grow any specialty crop rather than growing common crops
· Sell your products to vendors, farmers’ markets, local restaurants, and wholesale distributors.
· Analyze popular markets of farmers and learn how to build a profitable shop. You just have to pay some fee to set up your shop in some markets.
· Approach a vendor and let them test your product. If your product passes the test, you can sell it with more profit margin.
· Invest more time in growing rather than on selling. For this purpose, you can take help from a distributor to find a shop for your product.
· Collaborate with chefs who prefer using local products in their dishes.
· Establish good relations with restaurants and try to know their exact demand.
If you follow these tips, you will make your microfarm blossom.