Indoor farming is growing at a rapid pace and the opportunities in and around the industry are the biggest we have seen in most of our careers. The main reasons for the growth are the combination of the surge in consumer demand for retailers to provide locally grown foods, the brand concept of farm to table or farm to fork plus the legalization of cannabis in many states. In addition indoor farming is growing more products while using less resources. There will be many changes in this rapidly growing industry. Moving forward here are three trends to watch for next year.
A recent study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows micorgreens (leafy greens cut early –around 14 days – used for salad mixes) have a much higher nutrient content than the mature leaves of the same plant. You can read about the study here. Considering the rising trend for more nutritious foods, awareness of health and positive consumer brand of microgreens we will see a large increase in production. Microgreens are not going to become a substitute for big leafy green salads, but we will see them increase in popularity as enhancements in salads.
Indoor growers rely more heavily on technology because they have to control the environment. This includes lighting, water, and climate. Because they are growing more while using less resources tools that help them manage water, climate or light are going to see large growth next year. This is a study done by agrilyst showing the popularity of technology for indoor farming.
Cannabis will continue to be the most controversial crop. In the agrilyst study they report cannabis as the highest revenue crop, highest productivity per square foot, and highest per pound price. These are strong indicators the production of cannabis will rapidly increase. However, the agrilyst study also reports “Though many growers agree that cannabis is the most profitable crop, most do not plan to grow it in the next five years.” This is because there are many unknown factors for this market.
Currently 28 states allow cannabis use either recreationally or medically. Scotts Miracle-Gro made a big investment last year in the cannabis industry. However, federally cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, which means the federal government views cannabis as highly addictive and having no medical value. Federal cannabis laws are serious but in 2013 the Department of Justice issued a memo to prosecutors outlining eight guidelines to follow for prosecution. The upcoming change in administration could change what has been happening with federal prosecution. We just don’t know yet what is going to happen and that is going to limit gains for this crop. Additionally, many Americans still place a negative association on cannabis. It will take more than a year to shift the negative association.
2017 is going to be an exciting year for agriculture and landscape around the world. Indoor farming is going to be a hot topic for the entire year and these three trends will be interesting to watch. It’s so exciting to see technological changes in farming and see growers stepping up to the challenge of growing more with less. If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing or following me on twitter @H2oTrends. We would also like to hear the trends you see in indoor farming for next year in our comments section.