Using aeroponics and IoT to improve local food security & reduce food waste.
Green Tech South West welcomed Lilly Manzoni, Head of Research & Development at LettUs Grow to explain all about aeroponic technology. LettUs Grow are a Bristol based vertical farming startup developing sustainable farming technologies.
Lilly joined us on Thursday, Jan 21st at 12.30pm (RSVP HERE). We caught up with her ahead of her talk.
How big a problem is sustainable food production and waste?
Lilly: It is huge! The global food system is a fundamental part of the conversation about sustainability, and a huge part of the impact is the result of food waste and inefficiencies in the global food system. There are various different percentages but approximately 20% of global emissions are attributed to agriculture (FAO). With our large and growing population, the production of food is best understood as an industrial process. Within such a vast, globalised system any waste, be it waste of water, nutrients, the energy used to store or transport the product or waste of the final food product itself, impacts across the whole food system.
How are LettUs Grow tackling the problem?
Lilly: LettUs Grow hold sustainability as a core value to every part of our work, right down to the choices we make in our office kitchen! Our mission is to reduce the waste and carbon footprint of fresh produce by empowering anyone to grow delicious food near its point of consumption.
Our products are designed to reduce inefficiencies in a myriad of ways, for example, we have a closed-loop water network which enables us to use 95 % less water than traditional agriculture. We use our software platform Ostara, to grow the products most efficiently…and recently we have begun putting our technology in containers, which are easily portable and can be placed closer to the point of consumption, which adds resilience to the food system and allows people to connect more with food.
Can you tell us how Ostara software is achieving your core aims?
Lilly: Ostara, our farm management platform removes the barriers to becoming a grower, by making it simple to manage and operate your farm. Ostara allows you to remotely monitor what is happening inside your farm, making sure no leaf goes unchecked. The platform follows the LIFE structure, controlling Lighting, Irrigation, Fertigation and Environment, making sure that every seed is provided with the optimal conditions for growth, in a way which is resource-efficient. Sharing data allows LettUs Grow’s team of plant experts to provide insights gained from our R&D farms, where we trial new crop recipes and growth environments, making sure your farm is as economically viable as possible.
Drop & Grow looks like a really exciting innovation, how is it going?
Lilly: Drop & Grow is an incredibly exciting part of what we are focussing on at LettUs Grow right now, and it is going well! D&G puts a whole farm inside a 40 ft shipping container, meaning we can sell a modularised farm, which can utilise spaces that are otherwise unused, like brownfield sites, and closer to the point of consumption. This means that we can start growing for nutrition and flavour rather than manufacturing produce to last the journey to your fork! The other really exciting part of D&G is the simplicity, the whole design ethos is about making it accessible to use, which helps take down the barrier to entry to farming.
What’s next for Lettus Grow?
Lilly: We are at an incredibly exciting stage right now, launching our products like Drop & Grow and Ostara, what comes next is distributing our technology as far and wide to as many happy customers as possible. My job in R&D is all about focussing on the next products, making our farms as impactful as possible, we have some very exciting products lined up.
Thank you Lilly for the chat.