By Hana Azuma, Third Year, Biology
LettUs Grow, a Bristol-based company, founded in 2015 by Charlie Guy, Jack Farmer and Ben Crowther, utilizes a unique ‘aeroponic’ irrigation system, which may hold the key to solving the global food crisis. The three University of Bristol graduates hope to tackle core issues surrounding food security, along with decreasing CO2 emissions and ecosystem collapse in the process.
By 2050, the global population is predicted to reach 10 billion. In order to ensure sustainable and nutritious diets for everyone, we must increase food production by 70%. This proves to be a difficult challenge as, along with the rapid, exponential population growth, agricultural land and resources worldwide are decreasing.
Since the first drop in crop production during the 1950s, followed by the onset of the first ‘Green Revolution’, we are in the midst of another major halt in the growth of food production.
Fortunately, despite the omnipresence of food insecurity and waste, we are currently producing enough food to feed the world. The main challenge is the unequal geographic distribution of adequate agricultural land.
Nearly 80% of fertile land has some extent of soil erosion. Due to the changing climate, extreme weather events are predicted to occur more frequently and intensely. Together with population growth, it will be extremely tough to meet the global demand with the current practice.
LettUs Grow hopes to help farmers who are in such situations, to be able to grow their food regardless of the environmental conditions, feeding themselves and earning stable income all-year-around in the process
LettUs Grow were able to reduce water usage by 95%, whilst boosting the crop production by 70%
LettUs Grow has developed aeroponic irrigation systems for indoor vertical farming, which are not only easy to install in cities, but also use zero soil and little water. Crops are grown on a rack, where their roots are exposed to nutrient-rich mist and water spray.
When compared to hydroponics (another soil-free agricultural system), LettUs Grow were able to reduce water usage by 95%, whilst boosting the crop production by 70%. Additionally, neither pesticides nor fertilizers are needed and the whole growth condition is automated by LettUs Grow’s own management software, Ostara.
We are dedicated to the ongoing research that will help #aeroponics and vertical farms become more productive, with less environmental impact.— LettUs Grow (@LettUsGrow) July 20, 2020
Read more about our recent study with @JohnInnesCentre & @BristolUni: https://t.co/V2GmDPjDab#verticalfarming
In June 2020, LettUs Grow, the University of Bristol and John Innes Centre collaborated on a paper published to the New Phytologist Trust. It revealed the high efficacies of aeroponics and identified the key knowledge gaps that must be explored to accelerate further development. Moreover, the senior author and the former staff at the University of Bristol, Dr Antony Dodd, mentioned the possibility of using this new system in space.
‘Vertical systems allow us to extend the latitude range on which crops can be grown on the planet, from the deserts of Dubai to the 4-hour winter days of Iceland. In fact, if you were growing crops on Mars you would need to use this kind of technology because there is no soil’, said Dr Dodd.
Aeroponic farming has proved to produce high-quality salads, pak choi, herbs and more. LettUs Grow is now tackling more challenging crops, such as strawberries and potatoes, as well as the propagation of trees for both fruits and forestry.
It is thrilling to see how this award-winning aeroponic system is evolving as an efficient and sustainable candidate to combat food security. Could this be the start of the Second Green Revolution?
Featured: Jack Wiseall / LettUs Grow
Do you think LettUs Grow holds the key to sparking a Second Green Revolution?