Smart agriculture: What is the ‘fourth revolution’ to transform food production?

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Food production produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Therefore, researchers are trying to improve agriculture to make it more sustainable.

In bright light, the transparent orange cubes look like candy. Something like gummy bears or Turkish Delight.

If it weren’t for the green leaves that came out of them, I, like many visitors to the lab, would be tempted to taste them. “We often have to remind visitors not to eat them,” explains researcher Maddalena Salvalaio. The cubes are made of hydrogel, a material whose network structure contains liquid. It is commonly used in medical devices and diapers. But here at the Plant Morphogenesis Laboratory at Imperial College London, Maddalena Salvalaio and scientist Giovanni Sena are using them to change the future of vertical farming.

His research is part of a growing trend that emerged two decades ago to look for ways to boost agriculture by using electricity in seeds, crops and soil.

Georgie Collins

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