By Nikki Lee
Aug 5, 2015
As part of an exciting ‘Aquaponics in Schools’ initiative, school children in Liverpool are being educated about the issues behind sustainable global food production and food security, through a series of engagement projects sponsored by Farm Urban, The University of Liverpool and Coventry-based hydroponics specialists HydroGarden.
The University and Farm Urban, selected two of HydroGarden’s innovations for the future of farming to display. The first, a new vertical farming system, VydroFarm, was part of its exhibition stand at three of Liverpool’s biggest cultural and educational events in July, namely the ‘Eat the Atlantic’ Food Festival (4th – 5th July) on Liverpool’s waterfront, Big Bang North West science fair (8th July) for 11-18 year olds and Alder Hey Week (6th – 12th July). This last event was aimed at involving staff, patients and the local community in the exciting build up to the children’s hospital’s move to its brand new facility – ‘Alder Hey in the Park’.
Now a second display of a FishPlant aquaponics system at FACT’s (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) ‘Build Your Own’ Exhibition (4th June – 31st August) offers secondary schools two specially created workshops. ‘Build your own aquaponics system’ and ‘Build your own solar photovoltaic power system’ enable participants to create and maintain their own aquaponics system. Once back at school, pupils will be able to continue with their experiments, and will receive ongoing online support and visits by FarmUrban to discuss their results.
Of the two systems, VydroFarm is a versatile and fully-controllable environmental system and features vertical racks on tracks that can be moved together to save space and maximise production density as well as enable easier harvesting, whether automated or by hand. The VydroFarm system can be monitored and controlled remotely via smart phone, tablet or PC. Optimum lighting conditions for crop growth are achieved via Valoya LED lights.
While FishPlant offers an enclosed eco-system that can either be a self contrained unit or one component of a modular system. The university will be investigating the possibilities of joining the two systems together to create a vertical farming aquaponic system.
Iain Young, of the Institute of Integrative Biology and Institute of Risk and Uncertainty, University of Liverpool, spoke about the University’s decision to choose VydroFarm over other systems:
“VydroFarm is an excellent system for demonstrating current state-of-the-art innovation in hydroponics. We have searched for demonstrator and research systems and VydroFarm is, in our opinion, the best, most cost-effective solution available. In addition to our research use, our VydroFarm will provide a great focal point at our engagement events.”
Farm Urban’s founder members are bio-scientists based at the University of Liverpool. The team’s focus is the development and implementation of efficient, technologically-advanced urban farms which can be part of the solution for ensuring future global food production.
Dr Paul Myers, managing director of Farm Urban, added:
“The VydroFarm Mini is the next step in urban farming. It provides an exceptionally compact, highly productive system using leading LED technology. This system can transform small, underused urban spaces into the farms of the future. HydroGarden’s VydroFarm is allowing us to develop our farms at a rate that wouldn’t be possible with any other system or technology currently available to us.”
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