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East Anglia Future 50

Suffolk Show Countdown: Innovation will be key to future of farming, show-goers will be told

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 May 2019

Aponic's vertical growing system  Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROW

Aponic's vertical growing system Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROW

Jason Hawkins-Row

Suffolk Show-goers will be given an insight into how farm innovations could help reduce food miles and improve sustainability.

Aponic's vertical growing system  Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROWAponic's vertical growing system Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROW

Savills Ipswich has teamed up with Jason Hawkins-Row, founder of Sudbury based Aponic Ltd, which specialises in vertical, aeroponic farming systems.

Farmers and landowners who visit the Savills stand during the show will be able to see a demonstration and learn more about the technology.

Aponic specialise in vertical farming systems that spray plant roots with a nutrient mix so that they get the correct quantities of nutrient and water, receiving maximum oxygen circulation at the root to aid fast, healthy growth.

The system typically uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and does not emit run off into the environment, which makes it more sustainable and easier to turn unproductive land into high value, low carbon growing areas.

Aponic's vertical growing system  Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROWAponic's vertical growing system Picture: JASON HAWKINS-ROW

Will Hargreaves, from the rural team at Savills Ipswich, said it would be rural enterprise that embrace innovation that survives, with technology such as this is just one way that farmers can try to futureproof their business.

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"With several plants grown in a single footprint, so you don't need a huge amount of space," he said.

"There is much greater control over variables such as sunlight and air temperature and it virtually eradicates soil diseases and weeds, making it easier to open up new and untapped markets for fruit, vegetables, salad, herbs and even cut flowers and pharmaceutical crops.

"As a result, contaminated and otherwise unusable land can be turned into an area to grow produce from all over the world - even those from warmer climates.

"Not only will that help reduce food miles but in a post Brexit world, where a lot of imports could be subject to tariffs, it means we can meet the demand to grow much more of our food here in the UK at lower cost."

Mr Hawkins-Row said a lot of the food today was grown hydroponically but his system offered the chance to control various factors.

"We built this as a commercially scalable, truly sustainable system both in terms of the environment and as a viable business model and we are always looking for new opportunities to work with commercial food producers, farmers and collaborators. I'd encourage anyone who might be interested to come along and have a chat."

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