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Small-Scale Vertical Farming Solution: A Path To Meet Unit Economics?

Unlocking the Potential of Smaller Vertical Farms: An Interview with Hydrofarms' Yannick Hoyer

In an age of expanding populations, decreasing arable land, and growing concern over the sustainability of traditional farming practices, vertical farming has gained considerable attention. As Yannick Hoyer, the marketing representative from Hydrofarms, elucidates, smaller-sized vertical farms could answer some of the critical challenges in the agricultural sector.

"The main thing is to start first," says Hoyer, advocating a step-by-step approach to adopt hydroponic systems, which are notably efficient in water consumption. A firm believer in taking small, actionable steps towards transforming conventional agriculture, he highlights the significance of smaller vertical farms in improving overall agricultural efficiency and conserving resources.

Hoyer explains the unique advantages of smaller vertical farms, noting that they are "cheaper to build and maintain than their larger counterparts." As such, they reduce start-up and operational costs while potentially increasing production. Moreover, these smaller farms are more adaptable and can cater to specific needs, making them ideal for urban environments within premium space.

Discussing the importance of sustainability and efficiency in farming, Hoyer points out that smaller vertical farms provide a platform for gaining experience and achieving milestones with the aid of technology. In terms of energy usage, he emphasizes that smaller farms, owing to their size and centralized operation, are more energy-efficient. They can boost their efficiency by incorporating natural light sources, energy-efficient LED lighting, and solar power.

Still, the journey to operating a small vertical farm is challenging. Hoyer recognizes that farmers often face hurdles related to initial investment costs, the time required for setting up the system, and the need for a deeper understanding of hydroponics. However, these challenges can be mitigated with specialized consulting and support, facilitating the transition from conventional to vertical farming.

Importantly, Hydrofarms vows to highlight the impact of smaller vertical farms on local communities. The potential for small-scale circular economies in urban neighborhoods to provide local food security and boost local economies is significant. Furthermore, the resilience of these small vertical farms, characterized by their low water consumption and easy availability, makes them an effective solution to climate change.

Looking towards the future, Hoyer envisions an expanding role for smaller vertical farms within the broader agriculture sector. "We look forward to taking further, bigger steps in the future based on the data and knowledge we are currently gathering," he says. This suggests Hydrofarms is committed to innovating and scaling its impact in vertical farming.

Lastly, Hydrofarm emphasizes the need for clear policies and initiatives to promote the adoption and further development of smaller-sized vertical farms. This includes defining regulations regarding food production, ensuring more accessible access to funding, and fostering a more significant societal understanding of the potential of vertical farming.

The discussion with Hoyer showcases that the concept of smaller-sized vertical farms holds promising potential for the future of sustainable agriculture. These farms can serve as a practical solution for urban areas with limited space and contribute to more efficient, sustainable, and locally focused food production systems.


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