Nevada is encouraging the development of indoor farming in the state, a low-water use sustainable agriculture practice that could help reduce the state’s dependence on unpredictable tourism spending.
The sector is still small in the US and not one state has cornered the market, the Associated Press reports. Nevada hopes to change that. The governor’s Office of Economic Development is in talks with 10 different agriculture-related businesses that are considering expanding or relocating in Nevada. The economic development office also co-sponsored its first indoor agriculture conference in Las Vegas, an event that brought together about 250 scientists, farmers and entrepreneurs, according to the AP.
The majority of Nevada’s existing half-billion-dollar agriculture industry is centered in the state’s rural north and is dominated by grazing. Only about 40 acres of crops in Nevada are cultivated indoors.
Indoor agriculture uses hydroponics — growing crops in water — and aeroponics — suspending plants and misting them with a mineral-rich liquid solution — that cuts water loss from evaporation and seepage. The most efficient system can cut water to between 7 percent and 15 percent of traditional methods, the AP reports.
Indoor agriculture is one of several ways farmers in the drought-stricken Western US are seeking ways to grow crops using less water.
Drought conditions and hot summer months are pushing many California farmers toward dry farming, an unconventional technique adopted by small producers.
Farmers in the Texas Panhandle, squeezed for water by a three-year drought and a declining Ogallalla Aquifer, are experimenting with planting corn without watering the ground first. They are planting later in the season so they can tap the summer rain and switching to pivot sprinklers for more efficient, affordable watering.
Urban vertical farms also have popped up as small growers seek more sustainable ways to produce food. Earlier this year, FarmedHere, a Chicagoland-based vertical farm, said it has become a zero organic waste facility by converting all of its organic waste into compost.
Photo: Hydro Greens, an indoor micro green grower in the Las Vegas valley