Resource Efficient Farming Using Hydrogel Films

Technology Overview

A novel film that utilizes functional polymer technology was developed by the technology owner to address the threat to food security due to water shortages and soil contamination. The film is made of hydrogels and membranes that enable farmers to grow safe and high-quality crops even on barren lands, such as deserts and heavily contaminated land, as well as concrete, where conventional farming is impossible.

The technology developer is willing to partner with stakeholders from the agricultural industry and from the manufacturing and other non-agricultural industries as well for further new product development. The technology provider is also seeking local partners to provide licensing opportunities.  

Technology Features & Specifications

  • The innovation is a non-toxic and durable film that allows growers to optimize water resources to maximize crop yield and support water and nutrient conservation.
  • The novel film creates a water stress that provides the essential presence of water in soil and ensures the feeding of plants with nutritive elements, making it possible for crops to obtain improved growth rates. This high intake of nutrients is mainly achieved by the film’s capability to grow a large number of capillary roots.
  • Along with reduced water consumption and increased nutrient supply, the film also helps prevent contamination of crops by harmful viruses and germs.
  • The film utilizes a waterproof sheet that makes it isolated from the ground; hence, this provides a leak-proof surface. This leak-proof surface retains resources, such as water and fertilizers, and prevents their run-off, resulting in more resource-efficient farming. 

Potential Applications

  • The innovative film for farming can enable the production of high-quality crops in drought hit areas and contaminated/ salt-damaged soil.
  • Globally, the increase in the urban population has resulted in the need to develop novel farming practices to meet the demand from cities. This film has the potential to address this need by enabling farming inside buildings. 

Market Trends and Opportunities

According to Frost & Sullivan’s analysis, the global agricultural films market stood at $7.5 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $9.94 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 5.8%. The exponential increase in the global population and the steady decline in the availability of arable lands have compelled stakeholders in agriculture to focus on emerging technologies that lay particular emphasis on water conservation technologies for agriculture.

Customer Benefits

  • Water-efficient farming – Water consumption in farms using the novel film will be reduced to 1/4th and 1/10th that of hydroponic and conventional farms respectively.
  • Farming in drought hit areas – The innovative films are capable of producing healthy crops even in areas with severe water scarcity and soil contamination, where conventional farming cannot be undertaken.
  • Reduced labor costs – The farms enjoy a reduction in labor costs thanks to the decrease in irrigation frequency.
  • Easy monitoring of the roots – Unlike conventional farming, the farms using the films offer a visual advantage; the capillary roots can be observed and monitored, allowing any potential crop issues to be diagnosed.
  • High-quality crops – The film enables higher intake of nutrients for the crops, which results in more natural sweetness and higher nutritional value. The sugar content in tomatoes cultivated using this film is almost double that of hydroponic cultivation.
  • Reduced need for pesticides – The in-built functionality that prevents harmful bodies from contaminating crops results in a reduced need for pesticides, further ratcheting down the cost of farming.

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