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Japanese Company Lets Plants Grow On Thin Films Instead Of Soil  RSS feed

 
Todd Hoff
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http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/15/imec-japanese-company-lets-plants-grow-on-thin-films-instead-of-soil-video

" Tokyo-based Mebiol is working on an membrane–based plant cultivation technology called Imec that makes it possible to let plants grow on thin film instead of soil. The film is made of a water-absorbent material called hydrogel and is just “tens of microns” thick. Mebiol says that tomatoes, radish, cucumber, melons etc. need up to 80% less water to grow when compared with conventional culture and that 1g of SkyGel (that’s the brand name of the hydrogel) absorbs and holds 100ml of water. In contrast to soil, bacteria or viruses have no chance to harm the plants. Another advantage is that SkyGel can be used on various surfaces, including sand, concrete or ice (see this PDF for examples from recent years)."

My first reaction is how cool. My second is what do they have against soil? My third that using this tech you are becoming dependent on another entity, which only makes sense if you are special niche, which Japan may be in.
 
Jonathan Byron
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It's a slightly new twist on hydroponics.  I don't think it matters all that much if the medium is sand or gravel or gels, although lightweight is better on roofs). Hydroponics is still about continuously pumping water filled with fertlizer, and it has not been designed for having stable food ecosystems.
 
Pat Black
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Location: Northern New Mexico, USA
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Aeroponics would grow these crops with no soil, media, nor newfangled gel. The old NFT hydroponic systems grows crops with just a nutrient channel and no soil or media. The NFT techniques are still used for herb and lettuce production, and for some hybrid aquaponics systems.

All forms of hydroponics use less water than soil-based culture, by using a lot of stuff to get water directly to the plants. One reason to get away from soil-based culture is soil-based disease. That was probably the initial impetus for hydroponics. Or for growing food in places where there is no accessible soil, such as Antarctica, outer space, etc.
 
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