Soilless technology could transform UK biomass industry

Biobased

United Kingdom – Researchers at the University of Surrey believe that a novel, space-saving technology to create quickly expanding plants without soil could completely transform the UK’s bioenergy industry.

The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy has allocated £4 million for the development of soilless farming technology (BEIS).

The Surrey project will show off a cutting-edge technique called aeroponics, which involves growing plants without soil. Short rotation coppice willow, a bioenergy tree that can be utilized for energy production, will be grown using only water and nutrients in this method.

Plant breeding

This study will see the research team examine whether their soilless technique can be applied for additional crops like hazel, forestry, and Miscanthus in addition to optimizing the technology (a popular energy grass in the UK). These developments are crucial for other bioenergy crops as well as the government’s goals for planting trees to encourage reforestation and rewilding.

The group will also investigate if this technology might hasten the development of plant breeding programs, for instance, to boost output and increase pest or disease resistance.

Rothamsted Research, UK Urban AgriTech, LettUs Grow, Aberystwyth University, Forest Research, National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), NMC2, Glideology, and CapitalAgri are just a few of the academic and industrial partners that the University of Surrey works with.

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Wim Raaijen
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