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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