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The Importance Of Balancing Technology, Plant Science & Local Constraints

A Leap Towards Precision Agriculture: The Fusion of Technology and Agriculture in Indoor Vertical Farming

The name, Grow-tec, is stirring the sphere of Indoor Vertical Farming. This innovative company is marrying technology with plant science to add new crops to the crop portfolio that indoor vertical farms have today. Their focus is primarily on tomatoes and cucumbers, but they're also breaking ground with intercropping leafy greens using their patented wall-growing facility.

It has long been a criticism that Indoor Vertical Farms focused only on leafy greens and not offering solutions to other more profitable crop varieties that contributed to the quest for food security.

"I like to use the example of Tesla; a decade ago, buying [it] cost over 100K, but the capacities were minimal. It was inferior in all aspects compared to a combustion car, but now, you can buy it at an affordable price with similar capacities. Indoor Vertical Farming will experience the same," posits Ilan Ofer, CMO & head of vertical farming at Grow-tec, emphasizing his optimism in the future of this industry.

Through meticulous analysis across various geographies, Grow-tec has ascertained that its cutting-edge model can offer a return on investment within six to eight years on commercial facilities for the combined cultivation of tomatoes, cucumbers, and leafy greens. This timeline may vary depending on geographical energy costs and the produce price.

Beyond traditional farming practices, Grow-tec cultivates their crops using horizontal trellising. In this environment, certain produce, such as cucumbers and tomatoes, grow denser and yield as much as 10 times more. "No part of the stem is without vegetables, so every inch of the plant yields something," Ofer points out, illustrating the impressive efficiency of their operation.

The operations at Grow-tec are a testament to technological advancement, with a setup that includes LED lighting, precision fertilization, controlled irrigation, and sophisticated automation. Coupled with seed selection and genetic optimization, these strategies culminate in impressively high yields and a drastic reduction in water consumption compared to conventional methods.

Grow-tec's vision is gaining traction globally. Currently, in negotiations with potential customers in the Gulf region and Singapore, it's clear that regions facing environmental challenges are looking towards indoor vertical farming as a potential solution. The need for supply chain independence, underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, has nudged nations worldwide to reassess their agricultural strategies.

In the USA, Ofer points to the potential benefits for the South West and North East regions, which face water issues or are geographically distant from key agricultural areas like Mexico. Given the current trajectory, he's confident that initial costs associated with indoor vertical farming will reach parity with conventional agriculture and greenhouses.

Despite its nascent stage, the indoor vertical farming industry has its share of challenges, with economic viability being a significant one. However, Ofer notes, "Now that companies are focusing much more on making the unit economics make sense will help the industry progress." Diversifying crop portfolios is another critical step, helping the industry reach a wider audience and cater to diverse nutritional needs.

In the evolving narrative of sustainable agriculture, indoor vertical farming, with pioneers like Grow-tec at the helm, is a promising chapter that can potentially transform the future of global food production.

Grow-tec provided all images and are their property.

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