Editorial Feature

Farm From a Box: Off-Grid Toolkits for Sustainable Agriculture

Image Credit: ANEK SANGKAMANEE/Shutterstock.com

Farm From a Box is a multi-purpose, customizable and innovative toolkit that incorporates energy-efficient technology with regenerative farming practices for creating an off-grid sustainable farm.

For several decades, the agriculture industry has been heavily reliant on chemical pesticides and fertilizers to meet global food demands.

The use of these chemicals, particularly in the excessive amounts that are used by large farms, has resulted in significant damage to the soil, water, air and climate.

This degradation of critical resources will reportedly lead to irreversible effects on the environment and inevitability reduce the industry's production capabilities.

While some proponents of this industrial agriculture system believe that these environmental impacts are necessary to feed a growing global population, many innovative farmers and scientists believe that a more sustainable future for the agricultural industry is possible.

What is Sustainable Farming?

Sustainable farming is a multi-faceted approach that aims to protect the economic, social and environmental aspects surrounding the agricultural production process.

The economic component of sustainable agriculture seeks to increase the profitability of farming income while simultaneously improving production efficiency and productivity.

The social benefits of sustainable farming include enhanced quality of life for farm families and their workers, and a mutually beneficial relationship between the farm employees and those living in the surrounding community.

A significant component of a sustainable agricultural system is implementing practices that ensure the protection of the environment that maintains good stewardship of the natural systems and resources that farms depend on.

Sustainable agriculture practices involve:

  • The building and subsequent maintenance of healthy soils
  • Mindful management of water supplies
  • Reducing potential air, water and climate pollutant expulsion
  • Promoting biodiversity of the natural systems

Some critical sustainable farming practices that align with these goals include the rotating of crops, which can improve the health of soils while also improving pest control, as well as an increase in crop diversity through intercropping and multi-year crop rotations.

Another example of sustainable agricultural practices includes planting cover crops such as clover or hairy vetch, which can prevent soil erosion and replenish soil nutrients, protecting the health of soils without herbicides.  

The Farm From a Box Solution

Farm From a Box is an American technology company that has created an off-grid toolkit that combines many of the different aspects of a traditional plant factory into an all-in-one system that is exceptionally efficient and easy to manage.

With sustainability being a key goal of the Farm From a Box kit, this system conserves water and improves soil quality without compromising the crops’ integrity.

As compared to traditional irrigation systems, the Farm From a Box kit consumes approximately 50% less water while simultaneously increasing crop yields by up to 50%.

Overall, the Farm From a Box kit's energy costs are up to 85% less when compared to farming systems that require the use of gas or electric power.

In addition to its sustainability features, this system's versatility, combined with its ease of use, allows non-commercial farming users to reconnect with their food in a new way while simultaneously gaining independence from conventional food sources.

What Does Each Farm From a Box Kit Come With?

The consumer uniquely designs each Farm From a Box system to grow their crops of choice and meet the needs of a wide range of climates, water access points and crop plans.

Each system's interior, which comes in a choice of one of four different external colors, can be equipped with a 108 ft2 cold storage unit cooled by a 12,000 BTU air conditioning unit.

Outside of the cold room is a secured technology cabinet that encloses the energy management and data control systems, as well as all WiFi access points. Additionally, a stainless-steel worktable within the system provides the user with a work surface and secures the entire unit's battery bank and head control.

The entire flooring within the toolkit is non-slip, durable and sustainable, as it is made up of 90% pre-consumer recycled content.

A key aspect of any sustainable farm is the power source, which is why the Farm From a Box toolkit is equipped with an off-grid 3 kilowatt (kW) solar power array that can provide clean and super high efficient energy to the entire farm.

More specifically, this solar array is used to power the pump, storage system, data system and all auxiliary concerns.

The solar-powered Groundfos® pump within the Farm From a Box unit can obtain water from different access points, such as municipal water lines, ground wells, rivers or lakes.

This high-performance pump is highly efficient and maintenance-free, reducing the overall costs associated with managing this system.

All energy acquired from the solar power system can be stored in a cobolt-free lithium-ion battery bank, and can be rapidly charged to maintain consistent and maintenance-free power for the entire farm system.

Each toolkit comes with a remote monitoring and control system that performs a dynamic analysis of the farm to provide the user with real-time information on its performance.

Some of the key data points that are recorded by this data monitoring system include total water usage and flow throughout the field, the state of the water filter, humidity levels, total power voltage of the system, and temperature levels within the cold storage room, as well as both within and outside of the unit.

References and Further Reading

What is Sustainable Agriculture? [Online] Available from: https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/what-sustainable-agriculture.

Sustainable Agriculture [Online] Available from: https://nifa.usda.gov/topic/sustainable-agriculture.

An off-grid toolkit for sustainable agriculture [Online] Available from: https://farmfromabox.com.

Santiteerakul, S., Sopadang, A., Tippayawong, K. Y., & Tamvimol, K. (2020) The Role of Smart Technology in Sustainable Agriculture: A Case Study of Wangree Plant Factory. Sustainability 12. doi:10.3390/su12114640.

Build Your Farm [Online] Available from: https://farmfromabox.com/order/.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Benedette Cuffari

Written by

Benedette Cuffari

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Toxicology with two minors in Spanish and Chemistry in 2016, Benedette continued her studies to complete her Master of Science in Toxicology in May of 2018. During graduate school, Benedette investigated the dermatotoxicity of mechlorethamine and bendamustine, which are two nitrogen mustard alkylating agents that are currently used in anticancer therapy.

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