Inside the small room of the Mebiol Research and Development Center’, located in the outskirts of Tokyo, a one-hour drive distance, we have leaves of baby Cos Lettuce growing inside a tray lit with magenta – colored’ lights. From the shelf is a blooming microgreen miniature garden grown on a salad dish. The seedlings are germinated without using cultivated soil but just a top thin’ transparent film polymer.
The film of the polymer is the main cutting-edge method of farming which enhances the growth of vegetables and fruits on any given flat exterior. Having been constructed by use of hydrogel’, it is supper’ absorbent material which is generally used on household products, for example, the disposable diapers. The film efficiently operates by soaking the nutrients and water through several non-sized openings that measure a diameter of a millionth of a millimeter.
The plant usually grows on the film, although no ground digging, instead, the roots spread across the surface of the membrane with formations like that of a fan. The polymer technologies for the industry of medical were developed by Mori. He all along loved the biology of plant and was inspired by the adaptability of the kingdom of vegetables.
On several occasions’ plants are highly remarkable compared to human beings, reason being, they are able to sustain life on earth by acting as the source of food for the animals and gets rid of carbon iv oxide in the air.
The whole idea of using polymer technology in agriculture got into him through building artificial’ kidney over 20′ years ago. Mori wanted to know whether the mechanism that was used in the construction of membrane filters and synthetic blood vessels could be used as a medium of growth for the vegetables. Plants have the capacity to solve various societal problems starting at the lifestyle diseases all the way to environmental challenges.
Mori began this venture by growing a grass patch on the hydrogel’ film by use of LED lights. After a period of 10 years of experimentation, Mori alongside his counterparts created a soil-free farming’ system which could be used towards the cultivation of crops inside greenhouses over a large scale.
According to a study that was carried out in the year 2015′ at the University of Sheffield’s Granthan’ Centre, the earth’s arable land has been lost as a result of pollution and erosion over the last 40′ years. Also, the effects of heavy fertilizer and over-cultivation use have highly degraded the soil at a very high rate. Extreme weather conditions and climate change have increased soil erosion, and at the same time exacerbating the situation.
The loss of soil fertility on the land has come at a time when the demand for food has increased. By the year 2050, the production of food is likely to hit 50% to be able to successfully feed the increasing population of 9 billion.
Shortage of water is likely to risk food security. The fresh water has gone down plummeted alongside the decline in soil’ affecting at least 2-thirds of Africa. Film farming will provide a great alternative for resource-intensive agriculture. The Mebiol system utilizes 90% of water compared to the conventional method of farming.
The small pores of polymer membrane help to block viruses and bacteria, getting rid of the needs for dangerous pesticides. Because soil is not important for this method, sustainable’ farms could be established in any place, be it a desert, rooftops and even a highly contaminated piece of land.
Currently, this method can be utilized in around 150’ locations in China and Japan and in the desert of the United Arab Emirates. Mebiol is considering providing this technology to Europe and some other nations in the Middle East.
Most of the farmers didn’t have much confidence regarding this method, but now it has been adopted by younger producers, for example, the president’ of Drop Farm, Ayaka Miura that grows boutique tomatoes’. Since polymer film relies on water molecules, the plants must also struggle to absorb nutrients and water. Stress is likely to make them develop high levels of amino acids, sugars, and phytochemicals.
In Japan, these products are mainly sold in high-end departments stores, but also, the tomatoes are being grown on Menus at the restaurants, for example, Tokyo’s Celeb’ de Tomato’. Also, the upscale eateries such as Dubai’ Le Petit Maison’ will start to use the ingredients during the spring season.