MILLIS (CBS) – With much of the state under drought conditions, the lack of rain is taking its toll on traditional farming.
But one farming sector is safe from that drought thanks to something called hydroponic farming – growing plants and vegetables in a trough of water, not soil.
“Most of conventional agriculture basically has to flood a field before its ready to grow leafy greens. with hydroponics, all you have to do is fill a tray,” Sonia Lo told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jeff Brown.
Lo is the CEO of Fresh Box Farms in Millis, which does its growing inside shipping containers. It’s a method that has its advantages.
“You can grow year round, but the real advantages is water,” said Lo.
Outside, she says, even with enough water, much of it is wasted away.
“Water is mostly lost to evaporation. So, 90 percent of the water used in conventional agriculture is lost to the environment,” Lo says.
These indoor farms re-use the water.
“In hydroponics, the moisture that comes off the plants as well as the moisture that’s lost in any evaporation is actually recaptured,” said Lo.
Lo said, “we use 18,000 gallons of water a year in one of our unites and our production is equivalent to somewhere between 2 to 19 acres of food.”
By comparison, Lo said, “if you were trying to grow the same amount of food in a field, you would require 46 million gallons of water.”
However, there is a key disadvantage.
“The only aspect in which its higher is energy. Because we’re growing indoors, and we’re not getting the benefit of the sun,” Lo said.
But Lo says that the indoor future is bright.
“Fifty percent of leafy greens is going to go indoors by 2030,” Lo added.
To capitalize, Fresh Box is expanding its capacity by 70 percent.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jeff Brown reports