An high-yield farming system developed by an entrepreneur is currently being trialled in Wales where two tonnes of tomatoes will be grown in a six-month period.
Adam Dixon, a Cardiff University School of Engineering graduate, has teamed up with Aberystwyth University to grow two tonnes of tomatoes in a small greenhouse this summer, using his patented Phytoponics system.
Phytoponics is an agricultural start-up firm co-founded with Luke Parkin and born out of Dixon’s hydroponic hobby.
Phytoponics and Dixon have obtained a number of awards including Innovative Start-Up of the Year at the Wales Start Up Awards 2017, UN Young Champion of The Earth for Europe 2017, and the Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award 2017.
The trial is designed to show investors the potential of the system, which produces high yields and uses 10 times less land and water than other agricultural processes, with no use of pesticides and herbicides. Harvesting will continue into November with plans to upscale to a commercial-size pilot farm following completion.
Described as a ‘Jacuzzi in a bag’, the Phytoponics system rolls out and inflates into a secure unit for the plants. The sealed unit delivers nutrient-rich water to roots through an integrated aerator whilst keeping moisture in, and pests out.
The first harvest of tomatoes (Roma Returno) from the trial has been sold to local customers including chef Matteo Monacelli, from the Royal Pier, Aberystwyth.
Dixon said: “Taking a small 50m2 greenhouse to grow two tonnes of tomatoes in six months is a great accomplishment, but I think in Wales and the UK we need to produce much more if we are to become self-sufficient in growing our own fruits and vegetables as a country.
“Wales has many agricultural challenges due to its difficult geography of mountains and saline soils. I believe there is a great opportunity for Wales to implement new advanced technologies including Phytoponics to tackle food security sustainably and become less reliant on imports.”