Farms of the Future: How AppHarvest’s indoor farm uses AI to produce 30 times more food per acre than traditional farms; also uses 90% less water
In 2021, the total world population is estimated to be around 7.88 billion people. With billions of people to feed, the demand for food is also rising. With millions of people, there are also challenges of land and water to contend with. The world needs to manage the water consumption needed to grow food. Additionally, as people become more conscious about eating healthy, more and more people now want to grow their own food in a more sustainable way.
However, only 28% of Americans say they have easy access to healthy foods. Another 11 percent report it’s just too difficult to find healthy foods. At the same time, Locally grown food is important to nearly half of consumers, and the pressure on retailers to source more of it shows no signs of slowing.
It’s for this reason that AgriTech startups are now using new technology like AI and precision agriculture to grow foods using indoor eco-farms. One of the startups is BrightFarms, an Irvington, New York-based indoor farming tech startup company that grows and supplies local, non-GMO, pesticide-free, and fresh salad greens to supermarkets and U.S.’ largest retailers. BrightFarms is just one of the many AgriTech startups changing what it means to farm.
Another tech startup you probably never heard of is AppHarvest, an indoor farming startup backed by Martha Stewart. Based in Morehead, Kentucky, AppHarvest specializes in the fields of agriculture, farming, and technology.
Today, AppHarvest houses 720,000 tomato plants over the equivalent of 45 football fields, and one of the largest single-story buildings in the world. AppHarvest’s tomato plants are harvested continually and can grow to 45 feet high, helping achieve 30 times the yield of a traditional farm.
Using artificial intelligence (AI), its indoor eco-farm produces 30 times more food per acre than traditional farms and also uses 90% less water than traditional farms.
Grocery stores around the country have also taken notice. AppHarvest is now shipping beefsteak tomatoes to Kroger, Walmart, Publix, and other grocers. The company said it plans to ship 45 million pounds of tomatoes each year from its 60-acre indoor farm in Morehead.
Founded in 2017 by CEO Jonathan Webb, a Kentucky native, AppHarvest is currently combining conventional agriculture techniques with today’s technology to grow non-GMO, chemical-free produce. In an interview, Webb said Appalachia is an ideal location for the company because of its heavy rainfall. The company uses only recycled rainwater to water its plants.
Below is a video of AppHavest farm in Kentucky, courtesy of the World Economic Forum.