Counterpoint to the article I posted yesterday on the vertical farm coming to Newark. Given the relative newness of the field, I’m not sure such negativity from Forbes is warranted.
It’s possible that because this is such a young industry that opportunities to scale haven’t been fully explored. And Beyer dismisses transportation costs with hand-waving—a not insubstantial cost of farming, especially if you’re bullish on oil prices increasing over the next few years.
But the economics seem unworkable. Businesses or governments wishing to run vertical farms would first have to buy land in major cities, where real estate is sold at premiums. They would spend millions on the approval costs required for development. They would throw enormous sums—nowadays in the billions—to construct mega-towers. And then they would have to further address the challenge of growing food indoors, which requires sophisticated lighting, irrigation, and retention systems.
It would be difficult for vertical farmers to cover all these costs by selling a bunch of $2 cucumbers, especially when competing with traditional (or “horizontal”) farmers. There is a reason, after all, that farming occurs in rural areas: land there is abundant and cheap.