Agriculture faces considerable challenges: population growth, soil pollution, and heavy use of water reserves. To overcome this, we need to rethink the current yield-based model used by the agricultural sector. Aeroponics may offer a solution.
The agricultural sector today faces the huge challenge of feeding an ever-growing world population. Exposed to pests and weather hazards, outdoor crops face many odds. Using arable land to push for the best possible yields, and using artificial fertilizers and pesticides can be as problematic for the soil as they are for consumers. Agricultural experts also estimate that 70% of drinking water is used to irrigate fields worldwide. In countries such as Switzerland, the cold season stops agricultural activity and it’s necessary to import food from distant countries by truck, ship, or plane for much of the year. Creating a sustainable approach to agriculture is a real challenge.
CombaGroup, a company located in the Swiss municipality of Molondin, plans to reinvent agriculture — by growing lettuce and other leafy vegetables locally all year round, but without any fields, pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Their method saves 97% of water compared to traditional outdoor methods. This is thanks to a meticulous application of aeroponics — a technique of growing vegetables above the ground, using supports under which the roots spread freely in the air. A system sprays a mist of water mixed with nutrients directly onto roots and excess water is reused. The plants receive exactly the right amount of nutrients they need to grow, in protected greenhouses that don’t need any artificial fertilizers and pesticides to fight pests. The plants can be grown all year round, and have a lower carbon footprint, resulting in less pollution from imported products during off-season.
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