If the world wants to feed 10 billion people in 2050, she will need to find a better way to grow food.
Today, about half of the world’s habitable land is devoted to agriculture, but even this amount cannot provide everyone with the diet that people in developed countries enjoy. If everyone wanted to eat like Americans, we would need to farm. about 140% inhabited land of the world.
This is clearly impossible. Another option is to radically increase the amount of food that each acre of land can produce. While agriculture has made impressive progress over the past few decades, the tripling of production seems like an exaggeration. One solution is to skip the soil and grow crops hydroponically in greenhouses.
Hydroponic farming has great potential – a lettuce crop, for example, could be 10 times higher than traditional agriculture, but not without problems. First, it requires a lot of energy. But this is relatively easy to solve compared to other industry problems.
“It’s a bit of a dirty secret that the industry doesn’t really like to talk about, but they have some very serious disease outbreaks,” said Paul Rutten, founder and CEO Concert biographya microbiome company specializing in space.
If the wrong bacteria or fungus gets into the hydroponic greenhouse, “it’s open season—they’ll just take over everything,” Rutten said. “It’s one big interconnected water loop, so it might not go so badly – it could go catastrophically wrong. Basically, everything just dies.”
Rutten and colleagues at Concert Bio are developing a system to monitor and eventually tune the microbial ecosystem that lives in hydroponic systems. The team received a $1.7 million oversubscribed seed round led by The Venture Collective with strategic investments from Nucleus Capital, Ponderosa Ventures, TET Ventures, Day One Ventures and Possible Ventures. A handful of angels also contributed.
Credit: techcrunch.com /