Collaborative research and tech development will transform modern agriculture

The James Hutton Institute and farming technology company Liberty Produce have been awarded UKRI funding to address the challenges of climate change and the food production yield-gap through an ambitious new project, which seeks to develop technologies to utilise captured carbon to boost yields of hydroponic crops. It builds on the growing collaboration between the Institute and Liberty, formalised in a recently signed Memorandum of Understanding.

By bringing together farmers, technologists and scientists, the team will develop a unique 'hydrobubble' technology that will deliver significant benefits across the sector. This project will develop cutting-edge technology that will make nutrient delivery to crop roots more effective, efficient and sustainable.

Through the injection of gas-enriched micro and nano-sized gas bubbles into the irrigation water, ‘hydrobubbles’ have the potential to boost plant growth in hydroponic systems by up to 30%.

The miniature sizes of these bubbles cause them to be negatively charged and electrostatically attracted to plant roots, where they cluster to provide an on-going additional gas resource to the plant.

This approach has proven benefits to plant yield with research demonstrating a marked improvement in root development, fresh weight and the synthesis of specific plant biocompounds in a number of crop varieties.

This inaugural ‘hydrobubbles’ project is a milestone in the collaborative relationship between the James Hutton Institute and Liberty Produce that will push the boundaries of the vertical farming sector and accelerate its growth in the UK and globally.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations was recently signed by Professor Lesley Torrance, Executive Director of Science of the James Hutton Institute, and Alexander Giles, Commercial Director of Liberty Produce.

Technological solutions are urgently required to overcome the challenges of productivity and sustainable production. This project and the cooperative relationship between Liberty Produce and the Hutton marks a step towards delivering those technological solutions and groundbreaking research through a collaborative multi-disciplinary approach.

Alexander Giles, of Liberty Produce, commented: “We are delighted to formalise our relationship with the Hutton. Even before the MoU was signed, the collaboration between our organisations has yielded incredible results and we’re excited to continue to work with the Hutton to push the boundaries of research and technology development, which will transform modern agriculture.”

Professor Lesley Torrance, Executive Director of Science at the James Hutton Institute, added: “Our collaboration with Liberty Produce marks the next step in the growth of our Open Science Campus initiative and brings new innovative companies to work closely with world-leading science. This has been facilitated by the Tay Cities Deal funding of an Advanced Plant Growth Centre in Invergowrie and our other new investments there and builds on our track record of engaging with industry, research partners and the public.”

For more information:
The James Hutton Institute
Craigiebuckler Aberdeen AB15 8QH Scotland
Invergowrie Dundee DD2 5DA Scotland
+44 (0)344 928 5428
Liberty Produce 

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