State of the art control systems in high-tech developments means new facilities have a relatively small environmental impact.
In these systems, nutrient loads and run-off are managed on-farm or in closed, recycling systems. They are also very efficient users of water. Fruit and vegetable growing generally uses about 38L of water per dollar of value produced, whereas hydroponically-produced vegetable crops use only 0.6L of water to produce the same value.
Whilst growing crops under cover is more energy-intensive than other farming methods, the ability to mitigate weather impacts, ensure traceability and better food and to deliver consistent quality outcomes far outweigh these costs.
The key challenge facing the industry relates to community concern about the perceived visual impacts of large structures.
Protected cropping businesses have high labour requirements, reliance on specialist service and ancillary industries and fragile and perishable crops. These facilities are, generally, best suited to peri-urban locations.