What if you’d love to start a farm but you live in the middle of a city with no access to arable land? A new rentable product called the CropBox packs a fully-installed hydroponic greenhouse full of delicious plants inside a 320 square foot shipping container that easily fits in a backyard. Thanks to the efficiency of hydroponics and the tight CropBox setup, with stacked rows of hydroponic plants, a full acre of lettuce (2200 sf) can fit inside this 320 sf shipping container footprint.
This new shipping container based farming system was designed to make small-scale farming competitive in an industrial farm economy. Produced by Williamson Greenhouses, the container enables the entire growing system to be mobile, making cutting edge precision farming affordable for small farmers. The entire system is offered through an affordable leasing arrangement, lowering the traditionally very high investment requirements for new farms.
Instead of investing up to $50,000 for a complete greenhouse, beginning farmers and small scale farmers can pay a much more affordable monthly lease to get a complete CropBox operation. This in turn dramatically lowers the high initial capital investment and barriers to begin farming. As the farm prospers and the demand for their product increases, the farmer can promptly scale their operation with more CropBoxes to meet demand quickly.
This multi-layered growing system provides up to 3,000 plants in each container. Within a 320 square foot space, the CropBox grows the equivalent of an acre of field grown crops (or 2,200 square feet of greenhouse space). Five (5) of these containers can be stacked vertically to maximize production, enabling an entire farm to be placed at the point of distribution in urban areas, rather than hours away from the customer.
With a completely enclosed growing environment, the added electricity costs are balanced with lower inventory losses due to protection from weather changes, pest infestations or high heating prices. With no water used for cooling and precise hydroponic growing systems, the water usage is 90% lower than alternatives for field grown agriculture, make it a perfect option for arid climates. The CropBox is a complete turn-key agricultural system equipped with the choice of energy efficient, high output fluorescent lighting or LED lighting. The system includes a high-tech monitoring system with over 20 controllers and sensors that continuously measure the water, air quality and temperatures. With this monitoring system, the entire CropBox can be controlled from a smartphone.
“We really wanted to focus on making a system that is as fool-proof as possible to help new growers as well as established farmers who may not be familiar with hydroponics”, said Tripp Williamson, CEO of Williamson Greenhouses. The included monitoring software allows the farmer to keep complete growing records and create graphs for constant refinement of their crop’s growth. The CropBox is available for the purchase price of $49,347 or a monthly lease of $999 per month.
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