Growing vegetables without soil using nutrient root spray

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Farmers will be able to grow vegetables without soil for the first time after a new nutrient spray technology firm secured funding from the University of Bristol.

LettUS Grow, an aeroponic tech company, has a small indoor vertical farm in Bristol which grows vegetables without soil by directing nutrients straight to their roots.

Now, they are hoping to roll out this technology to farms across the country after securing over £2m in funding for their project.

The farms have automated temperature, light control and nutrient delivery.

The system also collects data on crops from seed stage to harvest, which growers can analyse and use to improve their farm operations.

The firm argues that these indoor farms need no fertile land to operate, use zero pesticides and provide a consistent, predictable and climate-resilient food supply all year round.

Charlie Guy, co-founder and MD of LettUs Grow, said: “This investment gives us a platform to really accelerate in 2020 and scale-up the delivery of our game-changing technology to farmers across the country.

“We’re seeing rising demand from around the world for new technologies to help farmers grow crops in ways that mitigate against the effects of climate change and ever-increasing extreme weather events.”

However, farmers and environmental groups have argued that while these systems can compliment farming, they can never replace traditional agriculture.

NFU horticulture board chair Ali Capper said: “British farmers and growers are some of the most innovative in the world; constantly investing in the latest technology to ensure we continue to deliver the best quality fruit and vegetables to some of the highest production standards in the world.

“Growers will welcome funding into new agri-tech solutions and will be keen to hear about solutions that would reduce inputs and waste on farm, but it is crucial that any solutions are practical, accessible and affordable for farmers to adopt. Many new technologies that could revolutionise farming are still years away from becoming widely accessible so it is crucial that a new domestic agricultural policy is bespoke to British farming and supports the development of agri-tech.”

Rob Percival, Head of Food and Health policy at the Soil Association added: “Innovations in technology that support farmers to end their use of pesticides and herbicides might be helpful in the future, but soil is, and will remain, the foundation of our food and farming system. The priority for government should be investment in farmer-led innovation, and a transition to agroecological farming.”

 

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