11:24am Thursday 22nd October 2009
The Royal Horticultural Society has granted a special award to a revolutionary food growing system.
The new generation sustainable hydroponic system – entitled VertiCrop – is the brain child of a Cornwall-based organisation, Valcent Products (eu) Ltd, which developed the system in a bid to find new ways of growing plants in a world of rapidly-diminishing resources. John Craven, journalist and broadcaster, who has presented the BBC’s popular ‘Countryfile’ programme for the past 20 years, unveiled the innovative product at a special ceremony at Paignton Zoo last month.
Days before it was officially opened to the public, The RHS awarded it a special discretionary honour at the RHS Britain in Bloom South West in Bloom Awards.
Entitled The West Country TV Cup, the award was for an outstanding specific project. Jon Wheatley, one of the South West judges said: “We were extremely impressed with this project and its future potential. Congratulations!”
The new system is set to provide a major breakthrough in animal welfare and food costs. A commercial high-density vertical growing system, it increases production volume of field crops up to 20 times over, but requiring as little as 5 per cent of the normal water supply. It is a non-GM solution to food problems – for both humans and animals - using trays on a looped dynamic conveyor belt with automatic feeding stations to grow plants more efficiently.
Chris Bradford, Managing Director of Valcent said: “We are justifiably proud of our revolutionary new food production system and delighted that it has been selected to receive such an honour from The RHS.
“VertiCrop is the latest in plant growing technology, meeting the needs of the human and animal population while reducing the pressure to clear precious habitats to grow crops. This technology could usher in a new era of urban horticulture.”
Paignton Zoo will grow a whole range of edible flowers as well as herbs such as parsley and basil, leaf vegetables like lettuce and spinach, plus a range of fruits such as cherry tomato and strawberry. Reptiles, birds and most of the mammal collection – including primates – will benefit from the production of year-round fresh food, with herbs often used as enrichment for many species.