Jan 20, 2022

The World’s Biggest Vertical Farm Yet Will Fertilize Crops With Fish Poop

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, evolution, food

Most vertical farms are hydroponic (plant roots sit in shallow troughs of nutrient-rich water) or aeroponic (roots dangle in the air and are periodically misted). But Upward Farms uses aquaponics to fertilize its crops. What does that mean? In a nutshell, that plants are fertilized with fish poop.

To get a little more specific: besides microgreens, Upward Farms raises fish: mercury-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free hybrid striped bass, in tanks that are separate from the trays of greens. Manure from the fish is collected and fed to the plants, making for a soil microbiome that’s more dense, fertile, and productive than that of most indoor farms, according to the company. Best of all, the company sells the fish to consumers, too.

Upward Farms claims its yields are two times above the industry average thanks to its ecological farming method, which keeps the microbial cell count in soil much higher than it would be with chemical fertilizers. “There’s a communication layer that’s been built in by millions of years of evolution between plants and microbes,” said Jason Green, Upward Farms’ CEO and cofounder. “Plants can say, ‘Hey, I’m stressed in this way, my environment is imperfect in this way, can you help me?’ and plants recruit microbes to their service.”

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