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KPU researchers discover new, sustainable way to grow basil

Trials run at greenhouse on Langley campus
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Mohammad Ameri, ISH Research Assistant, and Peter Atwal, president of Aeroroot, inside the research greenhouses at KPU. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

A new way to sustainably grow basil has been discovered by researchers at Kwantlen Polytechnic University after trials at the greenhouses on the Langley campus.

In collaboration with Aeroroot Systems, researchers at KPU’s Institute for Sustainable Horticulture (ISH) developed a growing procedure to grow lush, fragrant basil plants without soil.

Using Aeroroot’s vertical, air-based growing system, which uses 90 per cent less water and 70 per cent less fertilizer than traditional farming methods, researchers tested seed selection and production rate to growing nutrient volume, explained Dr. Deborah Henderson, ISH director.

“Aeroroot’s is a great example of how new technologies are being successfully applied to agriculture for commercialization,” she said.

Trials also included monitoring for pests and diseases.

It can be challenging to run growth trials, said Peter Atwal, president of Aeroroot.

“We wanted to validate that we could make a product using our technology. There’s nothing new about basil plants, but what is new is using our technology to produce them,” he said.

Atwal said this model needs more examination of energy costs before a demonstration greenhouse can be built.

“There’s so much uncertainty with farming technology and systems. To go big and to construct something huge is a capital mistake without actually building something at a smaller scale.”

The project is one of the first to be funded through the B.C. Centre for Agritech Innovation, a new research hub led by Simon Fraser University, bringing together experts from higher education in B.C., including KPU.

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Kyler Emerson

About the Author: Kyler Emerson

I'm excited to start my journalism career in Langley and meet our community.
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