Roto-Gro is capitalising on the space exploration boom, as it applies to a NASA challenge developing novel food production technologies to feed astronauts on long-term missions.

Advanced agritech company Roto-Gro International (ASX:RGI) is aiming to feed the world’s astronauts as it capitalises on innovations in food production systems and a boom in space exploration.

Roto-Gro World Wide (Canada), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Roto-Gro International, has applied to the Deep Space Food Challenge as part of its first step into the space agriculture sector.

Administered under an international collaboration between National Aeronautics and the Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the international competition aims to incentivise development of novel food production technologies needed for long-development space missions and terrestrial applications.

Roto-Gro’s application highlight’s the technological diversification and adaptability of its patented proprietary indoor vertical farming technology.


Astronauts’ food needs changing as missions evolve

Astronauts currently receive food from spacecrafts regularly launching from Earth, for example to the International Space Station.

However, NASA and the CSA recognise that as the distance and duration of space exploration missions increase, the current method of feeding astronauts will no longer be sustainable.

Future astronauts will be required to use food production systems on their voyages and be self-sustaining. The challenge aims to inspire the agricultural industry to help bring innovative food production technologies to space, reducing the need for resupply from earth and ensuring astronauts have continuous safe and nutritious food supplies.

The ability to develop sustainable food production is considered the crucial next step for longer-term human presence on the lunar surface and the future missions to Mars.

The challenge is not only about space exploration but also missions in extreme arid and resource-scarce environments on Earth. Like space, input efficiency will be key, including the efficient use of water and electricity to reduce resources needed for food production here on Earth.

Adapting Roto-Gro’s existing models key to space success

A new Roto-Gro rotational garden system — branded Roto-Gro Beyond Earth — will be designed with engineering adapted off components from its existing Model 420 and Model 710 rotational garden systems.

Roto-Gro Beyond Earth will be a smaller, more portable version of the Model 420 but feature the injection feed system from the Model 710, significantly reducing the required resource inputs while maximising nutritional outputs when compared to other indoor farming technologies.

Roto-Gro CEO Michael Di Tommaso said Roto-Gro Beyond Earth will enhance the already existing, unique benefits of its rotational garden systems, optimising both the operational efficiencies and yield per m2, which is crucial to the development and prospective use of food production systems in space.

“The technology developed to form the application to the challenge is astounding demonstrating the vast applicability and sheer innovation of the company’s technology,” Di Tommaso said.

He said the company had developed several key relationships with organisations currently providing food system solutions for long-duration space voyages, along with others focused on using space to solve problems we are experiencing on earth.

“We look to develop and foster these relationships moving forward, further strengthening our position in the sector,” Di Tommaso said.

He said entering the space agricultural sector was a natural progression for Roto-Gro, supporting its vision to provide sustainable technological solutions for agricultural cultivation, critical to ensuring global food security.

“Food system innovation is crucial to our progression in space, and we are excited with the prospect of moving to the next phase of the Deep Space Food Challenge, while also generating other opportunities to develop and implement Roto-Gro’s technology in the industry,” Di Tommaso said.


Roto-Gro global forecasts international growth

Established in 2015, Roto-Gro is continuing to attract interest on a global scale.

The company recently partnered with agriculture company Verity Greens Inc. who have signed a binding $10M Technology License to purchase 624 RotoGro Model 710 rotational garden systems, with the first, flagship indoor vertical farming facility to be built in Canada.

The deal is expected to generate long-term, sustained recurring revenue with Di Tommaso hailing it as not only a “win-win” for both companies, but a venture that works on a socially responsible level by helping tackle global food shortages.

“RotoGro will introduce our revolutionary technology into the booming indoor vertical farming space, while Verity Greens, utilising the RotoGro Garden Systems and supporting technology, will operate with a viable and cost-effective competitive advantage,” he said.

“Verity Green’s first facility also serves to further its objectives – to roll out indoor vertical farming facilities globally utilising RotoGro’s technology, not only to generate substantial revenue for both companies, but also to provide a true sustainable solution to address the issues caused by food insecurity.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Roto-Gro International, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.