Added by on 2017-09-30

Over the past two or three years, we’ve seen many numbers listed for the production ability of container farms. Most of them have become unrealistic and in some cases totally absurd. The problem? These unrealistic numbers are adversely affecting the success of aspiring farmers. Today we’re going to give a simple and realistic breakdown of actual production numbers from outdoor production (by the acre) and two types of container farms. An acre is about 44,000 square feet. A container farm is 400 square feet, or 1% of an acre. Just to be clear, that means that to produce an acre of food (we’re going with a standard crop, lettuce) in 400 square feet, you’d have to multiply production by about one hundred times as much. To produce five acres of food in 400 square feet, you’d have to multiply production by five hundred times. If you skip ahead you’ll see that at best container farms could be expected to produce more like a quarter of an acre of produce, or twenty five times as much. So how much CAN a container farm produce? Let’s work through this… Arizona and California combined represent 96% of U.S. lettuce production with 2 harvests per year. We’re also going to be conservative and assume the numbers for leaf lettuce, which is lighter than head lettuce. For leaf lettuce, most producers harvesting 12 tons/acre/harvest. At two harvests per year, that’s 24 tons/acre/year. (48,000 pounds) It’s slightly over one pound per square foot per year. Shipping container farms with vertical technology use 256 ZipGrow Towers per container with 13 heads per Tower and 10.4 harvests per year (using 5 week turns). Depending on the size of the heads being grown (determined mostly by growing conditions and care), this could result in anywhere from 2.16 tons to […]

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20 Comments

  • Andrew Gallagher 2 weeks ago

    This is an awesome start with the real #'s! Thanks for this!

    Any ideas on where I can look at costs? Startup and recurring?

    Thanks for this!

  • Shakaama 2 weeks ago

    does it scale? if i have land and put FIVE containers on it, will i get 5 times your number?

  • Logistics VWS 2 weeks ago

    How do those numbers change when you factor in climate and weather conditions, change in soil fertility, GMO, energy and water input, pesticides usage, labour costs and other socio-economic factors typical in 3rd world countries where traditional landowners are being victimized and abused by both state and commerce? Container farming or any derivative of that will come out on top, both on yield per sq foot / meter and also on cost and impact on nature per item produced.

  • Kobk Airsoft 2 weeks ago

    where i see containers shine in that they can be stacked you can not stack acerage

  • john0constantine 2 weeks ago

    Wow that dude needs a shitload of words for some basic math. You need more focus.

  • Mike Brazeau 2 weeks ago

    This info is great and we beleive very accurate, however it should be noted that Container growing was developed as a measure to save shipping costs of final harvested product,, they are generally established in areas in Northern Canada where day light is limited and outdoor is not very cost effective, May I suggest a video showing cost of shipping to say a remote area of Onatrio Canada like Timmins, where lettuce products are shipped from across the Country. factor in shipping then you quickly learn that Container growing is far more superior that field farming, one must factor in loss of product as we believe over 30 % of produce goes to waste

  • Ed Camp 2 weeks ago

    pictures would have been nice

  • Randy Berry 2 weeks ago

    How much of a drop off in pound/foot would there be if did the hydro outdoor over land rather than in the soil? Would think the consistency of nutrients and using less water would be attractive. Would it not be possible to Hydro outdoors on the very same acre and perhaps get a better pound/foot?

  • andrew beaudry 2 weeks ago

    How do you regulate temperature, humidity, water and ventilation?
    Just wondering if anyone has a link to a good set up plan
    Thanks

  • Do the traditional farm figures you used also apply to organic farming? I think you need to compare with organic farming since aquaponics farming is organic.

  • ChienPing Yu 2 weeks ago

    Usually, roman lettuce is sold at about 70~75g/head without root, or 3oz roughly.

  • City Urban Farm Jim Peckham 2 weeks ago

    Profits from indoor/container growing are directly related to productivity for local markets and the ability to be on the doorstep of your customers for both availability and quality.
    There isn't the need to mass produce your produce but to be able to be productive enough to satisfy local demand at an affordable price that also makes you a profit at the same time … start small and build the system to its economic limits.

  • Richard Rock - it 2 weeks ago

    Listen to this guy, he is sincere, and knows the deal!

  • Saeed 2 weeks ago

    1 kg of Holland lattice ranges from 6.5$ to 11.7$ according to my short market survey here in Oman, Middle East. I picked one type that priced 8.2$/kg. I picked one head and paid 1.5$, can't recall the weight but by calculation, I need around 5.3 heads to make up 1 kg. Again by calculation assuming that I can do 2500 heads per month, I will make around 1225$. Not knowing the exact operating cost, am not sure if this is a wise business to do in my region. Still fetching numbers. A video that will guide people how to scale their earnings will be so much appreciated. Some one would exactly know that if I have 300 towers I would approximately earn this amount of money with reference from the long term experience that you have. For sure there is a difference between experience and just numbers made by some one who is new.

    There is one company in Dubai selling these containers and they are too pricey. While they claim that they do 3600 heads of lattice per month with stacking method, I get a bit of confusion and puts me into the need to calculate it again on how they did it and what you explained here. I believe I can make a better unit than those with towers or stacking method BUT my focus is on the profits and thus if it's worthy investing in this business starting with just one unit. If my rough assumptions are correct, you would need around many many years to make a turn over assuming the price is 60,000$ for a cargo container farm.

    Can anyone share their real numbers from A to Z money wise? It doesn't matter where you do it because food here is expensive. I have seen one video a guy claiming to earn 15000$/month!!! Is this the same calculation as that of 44,000 sqft = 400 sqft production? Can't be real can it?

  • Alan DeYoung 2 weeks ago

    Wow, someone who is honest. I'm a farmer, and I can tell you that you actually think like a farmer. Very refreshing. Thanks

  • Washable Junk 2 weeks ago

    What's the cost difference between the two? Wonder what the profit margins are.

  • Michael Hughes 2 weeks ago

    Started investigating container farms as a passive interest, and did a little back of the napkin math for a viable business model. Would be an interesting follow-up video from you guys to talk about OpEx costs in more depth and average revenue/lb for various crops. I just don't see how a 1 or 2 container farmer doesn't lose his shirt…

  • Casey Scalf 2 weeks ago

    That was serious info, thanks for taking the time to compile that.

    I liked the straight forward numbers and clear calculations. Also, the standardizing the metrics – by weight – was an interesting pipeline from start to finish.

  • Geoffrey Rolin 2 weeks ago

    Nice video ! would be nice if there was a visual conclusion of what you said in a qualitative manner.

    Hope you continue !

  • Ethan Wheeler 2 weeks ago

    A true acre is 43,560 sq ft which changes your calculations that's 1 chain (66') by 1 Furlong (660') granted your base may have been to make the math easier to understand.