Friday, February 1, 2008

Why Vertical Farms Will Never Exist

Outside of a few niche applications, of course. Currently the number I'm able to find for actual crop land, as opposed to pasture land, average net returns is about $104.19 per acre in the United States. So for a decent economic return the cost of building/buying an area of land to grow crops on will need to be no more than about (104.19*30)=N*1.02^30-N, or $3,852.41. If anything that is generous since only the very best farmland in Ohio goes for $3,886 an acre. And a 2% return on investment over 30 years... that's just terrible. If you use the more usual 5% return the max drops to about $1000 an acre. There are 43,560 square feet in an acre... You probably see where I'm going. Even at $1 per square foot (I don't know of any skyscraper that rents for less than $30/square foot) it would be mind bogglingly stupid to build a skyscraper to even partially be used as farm space.

Now growing things hydroponically (is that a word?) or in vats in some suburban warehouse type space... that might be conceivable. But I shall laugh at the next 'futurist' that proclaims we'll be growing things on the sides of buildings.

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