Film farming: a new way of soilless cultivation

Is it possible to raise crops without soil? We are familiar with soil-less modes of cultivation like hydroponics and aquaponics. But there’s a new incredible method for growing fruits and vegetables with neither water nor soil, known as film farming.

The Japanese polymer physicist Dr. Yuichi Mori, invented the technology of film farming. He developed a cultivation system startup company named Mebiol in 1995, based on this novel technology. In the early 1990s, world nations signed the Kyoto protocol considering the global warming phenomenon as an ecological hazard. Meanwhile, Dr. Mori developed film farming technology to promote sustainable farming and thereby tactfully curb the issues of water scarcity and soil pollution. The reckless natural disasters of 2011 that shattered the spirits of the Japanese population like the Tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, motivated Dr. Mori to make his dreams come true.

Hydrogel is a crosslinked polymer that acts as moisture absorbent in the diapers and napkins. The same chemical is being used in an IMEC film on which seeds are planted. This film appears like a cling film used for wrapping food materials. But unlike a cling film, IMEC has nano pores having the size 1/1000000 th of a millimeter. Water, salts and nutrients alone reach the root zone of the plants via a process known as osmosis. Hence film farming protects the plant roots from disease causing bacteria, fungi or viruses thereby offering excellent protection, facilitating a safe to eat mode of food production. The utility of this novel technology is very attractive as it can be easily adopted to raise crops in fallows, polluted or marshy lands, concrete or even in desert soils.

Dr. Yuichi Mori dedicated his 20 years in relentless trial and error experiments to develop film farming technology. In the beginning he faced huge challenges in making this technology acceptable among masses. More than 160 farms are now practising film farming technology for growing tomatoes, salad cucumber, strawberry, capsicum and lettuce. All the credit goes to Dr. Mori for his perseverance, patience, extensive and continuous extension services at every stage for the farmers, until they wholeheartedly accepted the technique.

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