Farm Urban works with innovative researchers so we’re always at the forefront of urban agriculture. Here are some examples of the research into the science, social impacts, and economics of our growing technologies.

Laurence Anderson

Who’s Involved?

The Project

  • Researching how nutrients are used in aquaponic systems and where they end up, with the aim of increasing efficiency and reducing waste (more nutrients in the plants and fish and less being dumped down the drain/into rivers and the ocean.
  • Building small-scale urban farms systems.
  • Measuring nutrient flow & yields within these farms under hydroponic and aquaponic conditions.
  • Comparing the nutrient usage efficiency between hydroponics and aquaponics to identify ways to potentially increase the efficiency of aquaponics.
  • Building a mathematical simulation model which can dynamically predict the nutrient transformation and food production capacity of an aquaponic system
  • Testing whether the previously identified ways to increase the efficiency of aquaponics are valid using the simulation model.

The Impacts

  • A data set on aquaponic nutrient mass balance, currently lacking in the scientific literature, which can be used by other researchers to better understand aquaponics.
  • A simulation tool that can be used to size and optimise aquaponic farms.

Abigail Williams

Greening therapeutic spaces – the impact of green infrastructure on people living with neurological conditions

Who’s Involved?

The Project

  • Researching the effects of green infrastructure on wellbeing, food choices and pro-environmental behaviours.
  • Measuring the impacts of the Edible Wall on wellbeing, food choices and pro-environmental behaviours.

The Impacts

  • A platform for people with neurological conditions to share their experiences of changing wellbeing, food choices and pro-environmental behaviour of people with neurological conditions, particularly in relation to the use of green infrastructure, and hopefully start to find solutions to barriers regarding these themes in this community.
  • Understanding the impact an Edible Wall has on the wellbeing of anyone accessing it within a community space.

Sam Bannon

Enhancing hydroponic growing systems by addressing the challenges of energy requirements, length of time that a plant takes to grow, nutrient uptake, as well as the presence of algae and harmful pathogens in the growing solution.

Who’s Involved?

The Project

  • Addressing the challenges of energy demands in vertical farming by improving resource use efficiency in plants. Primarily interested in smart application of LEDs, to increase efficiency of photosynthesis, and the introduction of plant growth promoting microorganisms (PGPMs), to increase nutrient use efficiency and to act as biocontrol agents for phytopathogen and algae inhibition. 
  • Smart application of LEDs will involve closer examination of plant morphological responses to specific light spectra, when illuminated at specific intensities and growth stages. Presently investigating the effects of green light. Where previously conventional wisdom had it that green light was mostly reflected and thus superfluous and even detrimental to growth and development, it is now understood to play an important role in physiological processes and is even argued to be more efficient at driving photosynthesis than blue light, per unit of absorbed energy. 
  • In natural systems, the soil microflora represents a significantly more biodiverse community than represented in above ground ones. Important processes such as nutrient mineralization and the decomposition and metabolization of plant derived material is to a large extent mediated by microflora activity, these being the primary consumers in the soil food web.. As bioinoculants become more prevalent in conventional agriculture, the second key theme of this research is examining the introduction of PGPMs in the context of vertical farming.

The Impacts

  • Maximising the potential of LEDs beyond just red and blue light. Findings on the green action spectra in recent years have reiterated the value of broad spectrum light irradiance for plant growth and development. A greater understanding of green light physiological responses in addition to the transduction mechanisms of green light signalling, will ultimately culminate in higher yielding crops as well as improved resource use efficiency.
  • Bioinoculants show promise in the context of hydroponic cultivation. Studies have shown the diversity of rhizospheric communities in hydroponic systems to be just as diverse as in soil, and there is a case to be made for the introduction of PGPMs into grow systems from both a biocontrol and plant growth promotion viewpoint.