Climate emergency – what now? with Jack Farmer

Jack Farmer, University of Bristol Alumnus (BSc 2015), Co-Founder and Operations Lead at LettUs Grow and expert in environment agriculture tells us about how his company is tackling some of the greatest global challenges.

I co-founded LettUs Grow in 2015 with fellow alumni Ben Crowther and Charlie Guy, aiming to help tackle some of the greatest challenges facing the world today: carbon emissions, environmental pollution, and food security.

With the current population growth, we will need to feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050.1 To do so it’s estimated that we must increase food production by 70 per cent, with the added challenges of having 25 per cent less farmland, degraded soils and an ever more unstable climate. Our existing methods of agriculture are not suitable for this new paradigm. This is before we even consider the food wasted in supply chains each year – 90,000 tonnes in the UK alone. With LettUs Grow we believe that by empowering anyone to grow food within controlled environments, we can tackle some of these issues head-on. We take a collaborative approach and have built a team comprising plant scientists, engineers, developers, creatives, and business experts.

We believe we are part of the solution and are working with other local businesses to address the issues that face us all as part of this climate emergency.

We design modular, ‘aeroponic’ products that improve the efficiency, sustainability and ROI of both indoor and greenhouse agriculture. This involves generating a mist around plant roots, which grow much faster and healthier as a result. Facility costs are driven down and farmers can achieve an average of 70 per cent increase in growth across a range of crops, when compared to conventional hydroponic technology. Our systems use very little water and as we operate in controlled environments there is no need for the use of pesticides. Crucially, this soil-free growing takes the pressure of growing delicate crops off the land and improves global access to nutrition – even in areas with very high or low temperatures. At LettUs Grow we’ve used our combined plant science and engineering expertise to mature this aeroponics technology and make it much easier to use.

Over the next few years, we’re excited to explore new crop varieties and expand our global impact. We want to enable new business models for local growers and play a key part in creating a non-wasteful food supply chain by supporting alternative, resilient food production. To drive consumer behaviour change we need a multi-pronged approach and LettUs Grow is proud to be part of that change.

Reference
1. Springman et al (2018). Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature 562, 519–525.

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