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Bushel Boy in Mason City, IA Produces Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes

Industry insights: Controlled environmental agriculture identified as growth opportunity

The population of North America is rapidly increasing. This has led to a spike in food demand and driven the adoption of innovative farming techniques to increase crop yields. The demand for local foods, loss of agricultural land, government initiatives and technological advancements fuel the growth of the controlled environment agriculture (CEA) market.

CEA holds immense potential to revolutionize the agricultural sector. The technology-based food production process creates optimal growing conditions through greenhouses, vertical farms and growth chambers. Key crops include tomatoes, lettuces, peppers, leafy greens, herbs, cucumbers and strawberries. There are two primary growth methods: 

1. Hydroponics: Plants submerged in solution without soil.
2. Aquaponics: Plants grown in air or mist.

Alliant Energy looks forward to helping make Iowa and Wisconsin the next homes for CEA operators growing healthier fruits and vegetables. For the purposes of farm-to-table, locating in our service area decreases the number of miles food must travel to reach local customers.

Currently, over 70% of U.S. leafy greens, vegetables and fruits come from California. Over 20% come from Arizona. Produce travels 1,500 miles on average to reach the Midwest. Local CEA operations reduce transportation costs, food spoilage and carbon emissions.

The Alliant Energy service area offers excellent market opportunities. More than 34 million people live within 400 miles; that’s within the range of what the USDA considers locally grown. Our market also provides immediate access to eight perishable-foods distribution centers for grocery retailers such as Hy Vee, Fareway, Target, Walmart and Roundy’s. In addition, there are over a dozen wholesale food distributors for restaurants, schools and assisted living facilities in the region.

We’re very optimistic about CEA’s provide faster harvest cycles, predictable results and superior food safety. Visit our industry web page to learn about two featured projects.

Photo caption: Bushel Boy in Mason City, IA Produces Hydroponically Grown Tomatoes

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