Shipping containers have become exceedingly popular for building houses, garages, restaurants, and a variety of other personal and commercial uses. Built to withstand the elements while keeping their contents safe and secure, shipping containers are typically hardy and inexpensive in comparison to other building materials.
We recently wrote about why shipping containers make such great gardens and sheds, but their use in growing can extend well beyond that. Shipping container agriculture provides a means by which farmers can grow their crops inside of a retrofitted shipping container rather than in the ground outside or even in a greenhouse.
Benefits of shipping container agriculture
Farming with shipping containers involves several unique benefits that can streamline the growing process, provide new business opportunities, lower costs, and more. Some of the top benefits include…
- Space utilization: Shipping containers are compact and stackable, allowing farmers to maximize the use of space. Multiple containers can be stacked to allow farmers to build up instead of out, resulting in the ability to grow more crops in a smaller area. That’s why container farming is sometimes referred to as “vertical farming.”
- Controlled environment: Shipping containers can be easily modified to provide climate control, ensuring that crops are grown in the optimal conditions. This is especially useful in areas with extreme temperatures and seasonal weather, where plants cannot typically be grown year-round outside.
- Grow locally: Because shipping containers provide a controlled environment for agriculture, they make it much easier to grow food locally rather than shipping it over long distances. This minimizes the carbon footprint of food and reduces food waste due to transport time.
- Reduced water usage: Shipping containers can be outfitted with advanced irrigation and hydroponic systems, which minimize water usage while improving crop yields.
- Pest and disease control: Shipping containers can be sealed to prevent pests and other critters from getting in, reducing the need for pesticides and other chemical treatments. Additionally, container farming reduces or even eliminates the risk of soil-borne diseases, leading to cleaner and safer crops.
- Crop diversity: Container farming makes it easy to cultivate a wide range of crops due not only to the controlled environment mentioned above, but also because of the separation between containers and ability to more easily rotate crops.
- Crop protection: Because shipping containers were designed specifically to transport and protect goods of all types over long distances, they are built to be tough and resilient in all conditions. This makes them a hardy choice for vertical or container farming as they can help protect soil, root systems, and plants from the elements.
- Availability of shipping containers: New and used shipping containers are available in most markets across the United States, making them easy to find and vet should you choose to use them for your agricultural needs!
Ready to purchase a shipping container? Reach out today to get a quote from the best in the industry!
How shipping container farming works
Shipping container gardening can use either real soil or hydroponic systems. Each method has its benefits and drawbacks, so the decision ultimately comes down to what types of crops you’d like to grow and personal preferences.
If you choose to use soil, ensure the container has adequate drainage to prevent waterlogging and ensure that the soil has the necessary nutrients for the crops. You may also need to monitor and adjust pH levels to ensure that the soil is not too acidic or alkaline for the crops.
Hydroponic systems tend to be very popular for container farming due to their efficiency, sustainability, and ability to produce high yields in small spaces. This method involves growing crops in nutrient-rich water without soil. Sounds like you’d need a lot more water, right? Not so much – hydroponic agriculture typically requires less water than traditional soil-based systems, as the water can be recycled and reused.
Cost of shipping container farming
While it’s possible to purchase a fully assembled shipping container farm, the upfront cost can be hard to swallow at around $175,000. Should you choose to build your own, you will first need to choose between new and used containers.
Unsurprisingly, new containers tend to be more expensive, costing anywhere from $2,800 to $7,800 each. Typically for shipping container agriculture, however, used containers are more than suitable, and can be much more cost-efficient at $1,200 to $3,500 each. Just keep in mind that shipping container prices can vary widely depending on the market you live in as well as the condition, size and type of container. If your goal is to purchase many containers for your agriculture needs, consider buying containers wholesale to cut costs, and always be sure to work with a reputable shipping container supplier to ensure you get the best quality for the best price.
The cost considerations surrounding shipping container farming don’t stop there, however. You’ll also want to factor in the price of shipping container delivery and transportation. From there, consider costs associated with customizing the container for your farming needs, such as installing irrigation, shelving, insulation, heat/AC, and a climate control system. While these costs can vary, expect to spend somewhere around $55,000.
Is shipping container farming profitable?
Some businesses have already grown on the foundation of shipping container agriculture, proving the practice can definitely be profitable. But that also doesn’t mean it’s a given. The profitability of shipping container farming will depend on a variety of factors, from the type of crops grown and market demand to operational costs and scale.
However, the flexibility and unique benefits offered by shipping container farming provides ample opportunities for starting or growing a profitable business in agriculture. Because it allows farmers to grow crops in locations not conducive to traditional agriculture – such as big cities or harsh environments – it can provide access to niche markets with high demand for fresh, locally-grown produce. This not only means significant market demand, but also the opportunity to fetch higher prices.
But even for farmers selling at the same price to roughly the same number of people, container agriculture can significantly lower costs, boosting the bottom line. That’s because – with the right construction – shipping containers can be highly efficient, particularly when outfitted with advanced hydroponic and automated systems that can reduce labor costs and increase crop yields. The space-saving nature of container farming can also bring down costs on purchasing or leasing land.
If you’re just getting started with shipping container farming and need to purchase one or multiple containers, buying through an experienced seller like Container Sales Group will not only ensure a great customer service experience and quality shipping containers, but help you save money. That’s because we buy our shipping containers directly from the Steamship Companies and pass the cost savings on to you.
At Container Sales Group, we have been selling Shipping Containers since 1998 to farmers across the country as well as to major corporations like Ford Motor Company, Ace Hardware and Bobcat.
If you want a positive experience and to feel confident in your shipping container vendor from start to finish, request a quote on our website or call our office at 708-541-1833.