Special report: The global population is set to hit 9.5 billion by 2050, but with demand for fresh food and water outstripping supplies in several regions even now, technological intervention is a necessity.

Demand for fruit and vegetable production is already outstripping supply in 12 US states, while the demand for “locally sourced” food continues to rise among US consumers, reports analyst New Venture Advisors.

That’s happening against a serious food security backdrop. Some 95 per cent of the world’s food comes from 2 per cent of our cultivated plants. Meanwhile available agricultural land is decreasing as populations rise.

This global challenge is making investors sit up and take notice: more than $10 billion was invested into the agricultural technology space last year, says analyst Agfunder.

Farming robotics, precision agriculture and novel farming techniques have been some of the leading beneficiaries of investor attention.

China, Australia and Israel are key AgTech markets on an upwards trajectory as companies in these regions get projects on the go, says Agfunder.

One company looking to tackle food and water production challenges head-on is Roots Sustainable Agricultural Technologies (ASX:ROO).

The ASX-listed sustainable crop play has developed technology to manage the difficult task of plant climate management and produce crop yields in a faster and more sustainable way.

Its Root Zone Temperature Optimisation (RTZO) technology heats or cools the roots of a range of crops as needed in one system, mitigating against daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations. This enables  significant energy and capital and operating expense cost savings, coupled with greater yield increase.

Just this week, the company successfully completed a world-first hydroponic pilot of the tech on lettuce production.

The Roots cooling system was trialled with Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) technologies greenhouse with hopes of improving growth of hydroponic lettuce in Bnei Atarot in Central Israel.

The technologies ensured the water/ nutrients fluid delivered to the crops was at a sufficiently cool temperature to encourage growth despite air temperatures of close to 40C degrees in the crop greenhouse.

The pilot showed a shortened growing cycle of around 20 per cent compared to when the cooling approach is not used.

Roots has also recently waded into the cannabis space, using its root cooling technology in testing on medicinal cannabis growing both in and out of greenhouse settings.

In addition to its RTZO technology, Roots is advancing with its solar/wind-operated Irrigation by Condensation (IBC) system.

It demonstrated in its experimental farm a revolutionary concept – a onetime fill up of a water tank, when cooled by alternative energy and circulated in a closed cycle in blind pipes in the field, could produce enough condensation from humidity in the air to irrigate and sustain many types of crops – without additional irrigation from any other source.

The company’s chief executive Dr Sharon Devir said last month the cannabis deals should “demonstrate how universal our technologies are”.

Given the global population is projected to hit the 8.4 billion mark in the next decade. As populations grow and agriculture space shrinks, Roots is demonstrating how its approach grows a diversity range of crops faster and more efficiently and how we aim to tackle the water shortage issue in agriculture.


This special report is brought to you by Roots Sustainable.

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