Goodbye Soil: Researchers Grow Crops on Thin Films


I am the night...I am...
Japanese researchers at Mebiol have discovered an innovative new way to grow plants and crops. Substituting traditional soils with ultra thin films made of hydrogel, the scientists have been able to successfully block out unwanted bacteria and viruses in soil that can be harmful for plants. Essentially removing dirt from the equation, plant roots grow alongside the thin membrane of the hydrogel, a substance that is commonly found in diapers.

The method isn't exactly a perfect replacement to traditional growing methods, since water is absorbed at a much slower rate. This means plant sizes are limited and only the healthiest and strongest varieties of plants can survive on the hydrogel. Despite this limitation, the researchers have been able to successfully grow tomatoes, spinach, and melons with the film. The researchers are hoping to one day make the film strong enough to support the growth of trees. Check out the video below to see the hydrogel in action.

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