If the world In the year It wants to feed 10 billion people by 2050, it needs to find a better way to produce food.
Today, about half of the world’s population is devoted to agriculture, but even this amount cannot provide everyone with the kind of nutrition that people in developed countries eat. If everyone wanted to eat like Americans, we would have to farm 140% of the world’s living land.
That is impossible. Another option is to dramatically increase the amount of food produced per hectare of land. While agriculture has made remarkable progress over the past several decades, tripling seems stretched. One solution is to skip the soil and grow crops hydroponically in greenhouses.
Hydroponic agriculture has a lot of potential – for lettuce production, for example, can be 10 times higher than traditional farming – but it is not without problems. For a person, it requires a lot of energy. But this is easy to solve compared to other challenges in the industry.
“It’s a dirty little secret that the industry doesn’t like to talk about, but they have really bad disease outbreaks,” said Paul Rutton, founder and CEO of ConcertBio, a microbiome company on the scene.
If the wrong bacteria or fungi get into a hydroponic greenhouse, “it’s open season — it just takes everything,” Ruthen said. “It’s one big interconnected water cycle, so it’s not wrong – it’s horribly wrong. Basically everything dies. “
Rutten and his Concert Bio colleagues are developing a system to monitor and tune the microbes living in hydroponic systems. The group raised $1.7 million in an oversubscribed seed round led by Venture Collective with strategic investments from Nucleus Capital, Ponderosa Ventures, TET Ventures, Day One Ventures and Possible Ventures. A handful of angels also contributed.