Over the past six months, I’ve been researching vertical farms around the world and I’ve lost count of how many claim to be “the world’s largest”. Back in 2016, AeroFarms (via Gizmodo) was claiming that its vertical farm in New Jersey would be “the world’s largest”. Then, in 2018 CropOne (via Insider) made the same claim about another vertical farm in Dubai.
I noticed that most of these companies make the claim before the vertical farm is even built, and they never produce any evidence to back up their claims after construction is complete. This raises the question of whether these giant vertical farms were ever realized and it also raises bigger questions around the viability of vertical farming at large-scale. If these giant vertical farms are so successful after completion, why don’t they talk about it?
Another problem I’ve spotted is that the size of the vertical farm is often quantified in square footage. Are their measurements based on the floor plan of the building that houses the vertical farm? Or, are they adding up the square footage from each level of the vertical farm?
Surely the best way to quantify the size of a vertical farm isn’t by square footage, but by maximum yield in pounds or kilograms. And surely it should be backed up by hard data collected after construction is complete and production has begun. As a community, vertical farmers should be coming together and demanding evidence from companies like AeroFarms and CropOne.
What do you think is the best way to quantify the size of a vertical farm? And do you think that vertical farmers should start sharing data on production?