Bowery Farming in Kearny, New Jersey can grow 365 days a year.
Bowery CEO and founder Irving Fain: We grow indoors in big warehouse-scale farms that grow in a totally controlled environment, and we do stack LEDs vertically in that space. There’s a number of issues with the traditional industrialized agricultural system that exist today, and Bowery’s actually able to solve a number of those problems. We use 70% of the world’s water supply in agriculture every single year, and just in the US alone, we put down about 700 million pounds of pesticides every year. And it’s on the food that we’re actually eating.
Here’s how Bowery’s technology is improving farming.
Fain: Our method of growing allows us to grow 365 days of the year, totally independent of weather and seasonality. On top of that though, we grow pesticide-free and agrochemical-free food. We grow more crop cycles per year than the field does, and we get more yield per every crop cycle. So not only do we grow more than 100 times plus more productively than the same square feet of farmland, but we also save over 95% of the water when we’re growing.
At Bowery we grow hydroponically and that means the roots of our crops are actually dangling down into water, and so they’re not only immersed in that water, and are able to take up that water when they need it, but the nutrients that those plants need is also in the water itself, so using the Bowery Operating System, we can ensure that all of our crops have exactly the nutrients that they need, the healthiest of ecosystems, the same thing you would find in the healthiest of farms outside, for those plants at any time.
The Bowery OS really acts as the brains of our farm. So it sits on top of our farm, and it’s taking in millions of points of data in real time that have an impact on the health of our plants, the quality of those plants, even things like texture, certainly yield, even taste in the flavour of the crops themselves.
We also have a plant vision system, which is taking pictures of the crops in real time, and then running those photos through machine-learning algorithms, we can actually understand and see what’s happening with those crops.
So it actually enables us to iterate, and continue to drive improvements and tweaks and changes, so that we not only grow healthier crops, better-tasting crops, fresher crops, higher-yielding crops, but you can even tweak things like tastes and the favours to specific crops as you grow.
So, you can look at this arugula right here, and being able to control all the different variables and the attributes that actually affect the way that arugula grows, allows us to do things like make that arugula have a much spicier aftertaste and finish, or add a bit of a peppery flavour to the arugula.
With the consumers today, you see a desire to have a higher-quality product, and a desire to have a product that’s not only better for them, but also just grown in a more responsible and sustainable way. And it gives us a lot of optimism that this is an important step forward for agriculture in cities around the US, and ultimately cities around the world.