The Scottish government is said to contribute £200m to over 150 agriculture projects over the next five years. These projects include innovative studies and research on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture among other aspects.
The investment will be part of the 2022-2027 Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Strategic Research Programme (SRP).
“In total, we are investing more than £200 million in the next five years, which will support over 150 projects,” she explained in an interview with FarmingUK.“They cover issues such as the resilience of livestock to climate change; how to reduce climate change emissions from farming; and the way in which anti-microbial resistance and pathogens spread into the food chain, and then into humans […] The support confirms our determination, in a tough financial climate, to ensure that Scotland continues to make an important contribution to research on agriculture and the environment.”
Among the winners, a consortium led by LettUs Grow Ltd in partnership with a commercial greenhouse and supported by Crop Health and Protection (CHAP), is collaborating on a project to explore a novel technology for use within controlled environment agriculture (CEA). The work is focused around LettUs Grow’s unique ultrasonic aeroponic technology – a method of growing plants without soil, where roots are suspended in the air and irrigated using a nutrient-dense mist.
The project involves the design and prototype of a fully-functioning advanced Aeroponic Rolling Bench system, which is designed to be added to existing automated growing set-ups found in hectare-scale greenhouses and indoor farms.
Ben Crowther, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at LettUs Grow, said: “Trials will be conducted with a commercial partner which aim to demonstrate the feasibility of the Bench within a large-scale commercial greenhouse setting. “With our unique, patent-pending aeroponic technology, crop growth rates can be considerably accelerated, with previous trials demonstrating an increase of between 20 and 200 percent, compared to hydroponic systems […] This is because plant roots have greater access to oxygen, resulting in healthier plant root stock and faster growth cycles.”
During the 21-month feasibility study, part one of trials will take place at CHAP’s Vertical Farming Development Centre at Stockbridge Technology Centre, to create a point of reference for the Aeroponic Rolling Bench, compared to commercial hydroponic rolling benches.