As vertical farms topple, can tech sow sustainability into controlled environment agriculture? Flora Southey

Controlled environment agriculture (CEA), which includes vertical farming, aquaponics, aeroponics, and hydroponics systems, takes a technology-based approach to farming.

By creating fully controlled environments for plants, CEA aims to deliver year-round cultivation with fewer agricultural inputs and lower carbon emissions compared to expansive open farms.

But the sector that once promised to disrupt conventional food production forever is now facing significant hurdles. Energy costs are often one of, if not the? largest component of operational expenditure, and rising energy costs have seen high-profile CEA operators struggle to stay afloat.

This last year alone has seen Dutch company Glowfarms, UK-based Eider Vertical Farming, US-based Fifth Season and AeroFarms cease operations. Germany-headquartered Infarm announced plans to halve its headcount, downsize operations, and shift its focus to its ‘Growing Centres’.

Can technology help overcome obstacles to success?

Flora Southey

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