Agritecture’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2022


A worker replants lettuce in a vertical farm. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


Written by: Sarah Jordan

December 29, 2022

As we near the end of the year, we decided to take a look at our top 10 most viewed blog posts from 2022 to see what topics interested our readers the most. Discussions around labor development, technology innovation, and industry movement appear to be the most engaging. Keep reading to see which specific articles made it to the top. We look forward to seeing how these interests manifest in 2023.

Here are our top 10 articles of the year:

Two workers inspect plants in a vertical farm.

Cold plasma technology has established uses in traditional outdoor agriculture, but its uses have not been explored in indoor agriculture until recently. Ingersoll Rand’s Ion Solutions machine uses air and electricity to create cold plasma, which is used to maintain appropriate levels of dissolved oxygen and also supports disinfection of water. Plasma Activated Water has a multitude of benefits and applications within the CEA space which can maximize efficiency and hygiene for hydroponic farms.

Two people look at the crops in a vertical farm.

One of the main pain points of indoor agriculture is the massive amount of energy it takes to run CEA operations. Agritecture and WayBeyond’s 2021 Global CEA Census found that vertical farms around the world reported using 38.8 kWh per kg of harvested crop, on average. Despite key benefits such as reduced water use, lack of pesticide use, avoidance of freshwater pollution, and shorter supply chains, the emission totals from vertical farms prevent the industry from being able to assert all-encompassing sustainability claims. Microgrid technology could change the industry for the better, and offer more sustainable alternatives to current energy sources.

Image sourced from Utah State University.

By 2050, there will be an estimated two billion more mouths to feed. National Geographic estimates that we’ll need to “roughly double the amount of crops we grow by 2050.” CEA can help to correct certain issues with traditional agriculture, such as limited arable land, limited water resources, and unpredictable weather patterns. Increasing our agricultural workforce is necessary to support a growing population. For a successful long-term career in this field, it helps to have a varied skillset.

High-tech farming operations like Plenty’s require significant funding, often sourced from investors and venture capitalists. Credit: Produce Grower.

Venture capital has poured into the CEA industry at a dizzying pace in recent years. However, as we face a global economic downturn, the industry is entering a correction period. Heading into 2023, a new pathway for the CEA sector seems to be taking root: one focused less on hype and growth at all costs and more on profitability. To better understand the flow of investments, we combined internal data and data from Crunchbase to identify nearly 50 companies that have raised at least $10 million in private investment to date and either operate or sell technology within the CEA produce sector.

Earlier this December, Agritecture and Greener Crop announced our partnership. Together, we are hoping to make it easier to launch and operate greenhouses in the United States and the six countries that comprise the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Clients will benefit from the unique farm modeling capabilities of the Agritecture Designer platform during the planning phase of their journey. As the farm is built, Greener Crop will support the development of a crop strategy, the procurement of growing supplies, and finally, the operation of the farm.

Rendering sourced from Richard Aguilar.

While vertical farming is often hailed as a solution to climate change, the reality is that it consumes a great deal of energy, and is not always the most sustainable option. The context of the region being farmed and when is important to factor into decisions about starting any CEA operation. Figuring out this balance of context and timing for agri-food solutions is what we at Agritecture call the “Hybridization of Agriculture.” This hybrid approach is vital to protecting our planet from harmful practices, and with all things, balance is key.

The Vegetable Co. in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia grows vegetables under LED lights in a shipping container. Credit: Ian Teh for The New York Times.

While we can’t predict the future, we came pretty close this year. Henry Gordon-Smith, Agritecture’s Founder and CEO, predicted that CEA would go through a correction period as the hype surrounding the field balances out. With various layoffs and farm closures coming at the end of this year, this turned out to be an accurate projection. Another trend referenced was the expansion of urban agriculture in local governments, which rang true as NYC’s Mayor, Eric Adams, appointed a new Director of Urban Agriculture, Qiana Mickie, in September. Farm planning continues to go digital, and urban agriculture is gaining momentum in the public eye.

Credit: Gruppo AB.

The field of CEA is changing rapidly as we innovate new technologies and learn more about how to best support plants in controlled environments. 2021 was a big year for CEA, but it also showed current setbacks and limitations of the industry. This article is even more important when viewed alongside 4 New Trends Shaping the Future of Urban Agriculture in 2022, we are able to understand that learning from past mistakes is the best way to move the industry forward.

Strawberries growing in the Guterman Bioclimatic Laboratory Greenhouse. Credit: Jason Koski/Cornell University.

This article is the second of a two-part series on careers in vertical farming, the first of which (Tips for a Career in Vertical Farming) made number 8 on this list. This particular article details universities that offer training programs or degrees in CEA or urban agriculture. Having a knowledgeable workforce continues to be a leading challenge in the industry as the average age of agricultural workers rises, so training young people to join the agricultural field is increasingly important.

Workers tend to blueberry bushes being grown under solar panels on Jack’s Solar Farm. Credit: Werner Slocum, NREL.

Our most popular blog post of 2022 covered an innovative technology: agrivoltaics. This method of using solar panels as crop cover helps shade sensitive plants while also generating electricity for the farm. Clearly, agrivoltaics are intriguing many in the CEA industry, and will be a continued topic of interest in the coming years.


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