Opinion

Cutting Edge Technology in India: Aquaponics and Controlled Greenhouse

Published Oct 1, 2019
In India, one agriculture startup is aiming to revolutionize the agricultural industry. Landcraft Agro, founded in 2017, employs aquaponics technology and sealed, climate-controlled greenhouse systems to grow the highest quality greens and herbs.

In India, one agriculture startup is aiming to revolutionize the agricultural industry. Landcraft Agro, founded in 2017, employs aquaponics technology and sealed, climate-controlled greenhouse systems to grow the highest quality greens and herbs such as kale, chives, and spinach.

Aquaponics is a closed-loop recirculation system which can grow greens and herbs utilizing 90% less water compared to conventional farming. Greens and herbs are not grown on soil but instead are grown in water tanks, which is connected to fish tanks. Aquaponics aims to mimic the existing biome by taking advantage of the symbiotic relationship between fish and plants: the organic fish feed becomes a source of nutrition for the plants and the plants clean the water that is circulated back to the fish. Basic versions of the aquaponics system were first explored by ancient civilizations on the banks of the Nile and Amazon rivers almost 5,000 years ago.

One of the main greens that Landcraft Agro grows using aquaponics is kale. Kale, with its high vitamin, mineral, and omega-3 contents, is considered a superfood. As consumers become more health-conscious, the demand for kale is increasing. Although kale contains many nutrients, the plant is difficult to grow as kale is prone to pests, such as listeria. As a result, conventional kale farmers often lose a significant amount of the plant due to pest damage. However, Landcraft Agro’s aquaponically grown kale has almost a 0% chance of contracting listeria or other pests. The company’s aquaponics system is located inside a sealed, climate-controlled greenhouse with a double door to avoid any contamination. Also, the vents in the greenhouse are filtered. Furthermore, since the kale is not grown on soil, pests cannot contaminate the kale through the soil. 

In addition, aquaponically grown plants are healthier and more pest-resistant than plants grown conventionally due to the high nutrition the plants receive in an aquaponics environment. Even with a controlled conventional production system, kale can still be infected by pests due to poor post-harvest handling. To avoid contamination, Landcraft Agro has dedicated cleaning, sorting, and packing rooms all inside their sealed greenhouse. All kale and greens leaving the greenhouse are sealed to ensure that no contamination can occur during transport. Furthermore, all plants are packed using Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) to improve their shelf lives: MAP can double the shelf life of kale.

Sustainable and innovative agricultural practices such as aquaponics and sealed, climate-controlled greenhouses are allowing companies like Landcraft Agro to more efficiently grow higher quality greens and herbs. Despite the high initial investment, these technologies have a high return on investment as they use less water, minimize crop damage, and produce higher quality plants.  

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