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Latest tech aiming to enhance food production

Boosting efficiency in agricultural systems while reducing the sector’s impact on the environment are key themes in new technologies coming to market.

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Duckweed can serve as a high protein animal feed
Duckweed can serve as a high protein animal feed

Futuristic creations were on display as part of the Rabobank FoodBytes! pitch competition and networking platform, where judges seek the latest innovative solutions which could transform the sector.

 

DryGro is a startup which has developed a system for growing high protein animal feed Lemna, part of the duckweed family, in a controlled environment with minimal water.

 

Its nutritional profile is similar to that of soybean meal and the team behind it say it could offer a sustainable alternative when compared to other proteins coming to the market such as insects.

 

“Meeting 2050 demand for soybean meal will require conversion of land from other uses and likely further deforestation of Brazil,” said Kate Jarvis, DryGro’s chief operating officer.

 

“We can produce protein using only 1 per cent of the water and around 10 per cent of the land required by soyabeans – and the land does not need to be arable.”

 

With requirements on land use changing, Ms Jarvis said the technology, being rolled out from the firm’s base in Kenya, could help global food production become more sustainable.

Leaf, (Luminescent Light Emitting Agricultural Films) aims to supercharge sunlight to increase crop growth rates.

 

The technology, which is essentially a red coloured lightweight plastic sheet, is placed over crops to enhance the wavelengths or colours of sunlight to enhance growth.

 

“We have seen increases in yield of 40 per cent or more,” said Dr Alex Soeriyadi, of Leaf.

 

The technology has been trialled on strawberries and premium greens but there are plans to test it on tomatoes and cannabis plants.

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