Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Phytoponics (A sustainable, affordable scalable hydroponic system for large-scale agriculture)
Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2018-09-30
The global population recently surpassed 7 billion and is projected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. As a result, food demand will need to increase by 70% to ensure a sufficient supply of food. The global food paradigm is losing its strength as it falls victim to the consequences of climate change, increasing drought frequency and severity, soil depletion and disease, and water pollution. Securing a safe and sustainable farming method that overcomes these risks is a challenge on a global scale. A sustainable alternative must be found to traditional soil farming which is unsustainable as food demand grows. Soil farming is highly inefficient with respect to water with around 250 billion m3 wasted in Europe annually. Soilless growing systems provide this solution as they are modular and flexible, enabling the growth of a wide range of crops to be grown year round. The overall objectives of the project are to elongate the hydrosac and upgrade to house IoT enabled sensors to maintain optimum growing conditions. Phytoponics will develop a software for easy monitoring of growth protocols and data analysis. 1500m of hydrosac will be produced and validated through end user trials in greenhouses.
Phytoponics undertook a full analysis of both the technical and business potential of the Phytoponics system concluding that it would be highly valuable for the commercial hydroponics market. Phytoponics reviewed the results achieved from the initial in-field testing performed to identify needed improvements to be made during the Phase 2 project. Specifically, they defined the necessary upgrades to the subcomponents and software in order to increase the nutrient absorption of each particular crop, leading to a higher quality product and higher yields. In terms of the business advancements, the company used the feasibility study to scout and select a CMO and suppliers to participate in the assembly and in field demonstration of the Phytoponics system. The company also analysed and selected a business model (B2C model with 2 revenue streams) as well as commercialization strategy to enter the market with.
The expected outcome of the project is to successfully execute the market validation and demonstrate that the value of highly controlled IoT-integrated hydroponic system. The ability to deliver the correct amount of nutrient at the right time to the plant root system will enable a higher quality product and greater yield of crops grown hydroponically. The state of the art nutrient and irrigation systems will also ensure that the crops are not affected by root disease. The Phytoponics system will boost economic growth of the ever changing farming industry and create a wide range of jobs within Phytoponics.