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10 Questions to Ask Before Starting a Container Farm

If you’ve been looking into indoor farming from home, you’ve probably come across a container farm as a sustainable option.

A container farm is an indoor vertical farm, that operates inside of a repurposed shipping container.

These farms grow crops using hydroponic systems, artificial lighting, and controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technology.

Container farms are popular for their ability to yield a lot of produce in a compact space.

But before you get started, there’s some vital information you should learn.

In this article, you’ll learn what you should find out before starting a container farm.

1. What type of hydroponic system does it use?

There are many different types of hydroponic systems.

The type of hydroponic system a container farm uses, will influence compatible crops, maintenance, and its advantages and disadvantages.

For example, recirculating systems like nutrient film technique (NFT), allow the farm to reuse water, cutting back on water use, and work best with quick-growing leafy greens.

2. How is the hydroponic system controlled?

How the hydroponic system is controlled, will determine how much additional labor you need in order to operate it.

If it’s an automated system, like our Pure Greens Container Farms, you’ll save time and energy.

If it’s a more basic system, you’ll have to put in more work to get the results you desire.

3. How is the environment controlled?

How the inside environment of the container farm is controlled, depends on the level of CEA technology that’s been installed.

A basic refrigerated container, with no modifications, will regulate an indoor temperature to some degree, but it won’t be easily adjustable or precise.

On the other hand, more controls like temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide will result in perfect growing conditions for your crops, improving quality and yields.

4. Where can you put it?

One of the benefits of container farming, is the ability to grow food in any climate and in densely populated urban areas.

But before starting your container farm, you’ll need to know if you have the proper space for it.

You need to make sure you have enough room on all sides of the farm, level ground, a proper connection to water and an electrical source.

5. What preparation do I need to do before starting?

The preparation you put into starting a container farm will depend on your personal situation, such as whether you already have the proper space, tools and materials for it.

Additionally, you’ll want to consider preplanning your budget and what crops you’d like to grow, so that you can adjust your expectations accordingly.

6. What do I need to buy separately?

Whether you’re renting or purchasing your container farm, you’ll need to know what materials and equipment it comes with, so you can plan to purchase anything else separately.

These things will need to be accounted for in your budget, and it’s best to know before starting in order to minimize financial surprises.

7. How much work does operating one unit require?

If you already have plenty of time on your hands, this might be less of a concern.

But if you’re only going to be able to put in few hours of work each week, you might want to look into getting some help.

In general, you should budget for at least 20 hours of work time for your container farm each week.

8. Who will do the labor?

Like mentioned in the previous section, if you can’t fully commit your time to maintaining your container farm, you should look into hiring someone.

If you plan to hire someone, you’ll have to make sure to include that in your budgeting as well.

And if you’re going to take on the work all on your own, you should ensure that you’ll have enough time to do so before you start.

9. What plants can I grow in it?

Before starting a container farm, you should know what crops you’re most interested in growing.

Container farms grow a lot of different types of crops, but the most ideal ones will depend on what type of hydroponic system it uses.

You’ll want to make sure your desired crops align with what you’ll actually be able to grow.

10. What are the expected yields?

Whether you’re using the container farm to feed people or to sell your produce, knowing what to expect is important.

You should make sure the farm has the ability to yield enough to match your needs, both in terms of mouths to feed and profit.

Now that you know what questions to ask, you can start finding the answers!

Check out our container farming guides on our website or call 602-753-3469 for more information.