New crops could boost vertical farming

The production of new crop types could help vertical farms become more commercial according to a new report from John Innes Centre, the University of Bristol and the aeroponic technology provider LettUs Grow.

The interdisciplinary study combining biology and engineering sets down steps towards accelerating the growth of this branch of precision agriculture, including the use of aeroponics which uses nutrient-enriched aerosols in place of soil.

Dr Antony Dodd, a Group Leader at the John Innes Centre and senior author of the study, said, “By bringing fundamental biological insights into the context of the physics of growing plants in an aerosol, we can help the vertical farming business become more productive more quickly, while producing healthier food with less environmental impact.”

Jack Farmer, Chief Scientific Officer at LettUs Grow and one of the authors of the study, added, “Climate change is only going to increase the demand for this technology. Projected changes in regional weather patterns and water availability are likely to impact agricultural productivity soon. Vertical farming offers the ability to grow high value nutritious crops in a climate resilient manner all year round, proving a reliable income stream for growers.”

Aeroponic platforms are often used to grow high value crops such as salads, pak choi, herbs, small brassica crops, pea shoots and bean shoots. LettUs Grow are working on growth regimens for fruiting and rooting crops such as strawberries and carrots, as well as aeroponic propagation of trees and John Innes Centre researchers have bred a line of broccoli adapted to grow indoors for a major supermarket.

Photo source: LettUs Grow

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