Despite being able to control the environmental parameters, indoor farming is not immune to waste. In reality, up to 40% of crops are still being wasted due to inaccurate yield predictions and poor maintenance (in greenhouses and vertical farms). Because of harvesting, packaging and transportation, the earlier the food is wasted in the production process, the better, but knowing how to significantly minimize it and not being taken by surprise on how much is lost is best. Indoor farms in urban areas are today’s solution for the need to be able to grow more, more locally and to shorten the production chain, but the need to automate these farms and improve even more is needed to keep up with our needs globally.
Costs can be credited as one of the main causes for the said waste however this goes hand-in-hand with having an unorganized farm management operation. Larger farms become more difficult to manage and the cost of labor needed eventually adds up. Besides anomalies detected later in a plant’s growth cycle, food waste in these instances can also occur when the cost to hire more farmers is beyond what the profits will be for the crops that have to be harvested. In this situation, when unplanned for the excess crops that goes unharvested eventually gets thrown out.
Up to 30% of the time used in labor that could be spent to harvest crops is currently spent on manually collecting and analyzing farms and the farm’s data, here, there is an opportunity to automate and even massively improve these tasks.
Farmers have to wear many hats, from plant scientist to mechanic, most of the time it is strenuous and time consuming to acquire the engineering or digital skills to ensure the future of farming and agriculture. This is where products and services such as EcoSense come in, which provides a variety of environmental and plant health analysis assistance and AI powered decision making tools that improve farm management, yield predictions and commercial planning. Farming and technology working as a team can solve problems that are not yet detected by our own human senses and abilities or fix issues that we may not even know can be fixed. Farming has always been hands-on and with the help of actionable data from the resources we have today we are able to bridge the knowledge gap in indoor farming with one farm assistant. Decisions made in farms today are still based on each individual’s experiences. When it comes to the crops themselves, one person may be able to identify diseases or anomalies but to another it is perfectly fine. Today, especially in non-traditional farms, previous growing experience is not as prioritized when hiring staff, and since greenhouses, aeroponic, aquaponic, hydroponic, container and vertical farms/ growing methods are relatively new, it’s not as easy to evaluate experience. With EcoSense, results in your farm can still be consistent, regardless of the method, EcoSense knows plants.