The world’s population continues to rise and statistics estimate that there will be 11bn people by 2100. With this huge growth, and the ever present climate change issues, comes increasing pressure on food productions.

The current farming system is reliant on fossil fuels – fertilisers, pesticides, heavy machinery and transport but these sources of fuels will not be around forever. This makes it imperative to find ways to produce healthy and nutritious food on less land, using less water and less energy. One of the solutions to this is Aquaponics – a technique of growing fish and crops together in a completely closed-loop ecosystem.

Introducing Farm Urban

Farm Urban is an eco start up in Liverpool working to further the application of urban farming technologies, specifically Aquaponics. This technique turns fish waste into a fertiliser for plants. This waste is pumped into a separate tank containing bacteria which breaks down the waste to release nutrients to feed the plants. The plants then act as a bio-filter cleaning the water which is then pumped back into the fish to start the whole process again.

Farm Urban is involved in projects to develop several sites around Liverpool including a rooftop farm at the Liverpool Guild of Students and an aquaponics lab in the basement of the UTC Life Sciences School in Liverpool.

University collaborations

According to the recent report published by the NCUB, ‘Leading Food 4.0’ it states: “The UK’s food sector wants to be a leader in this new world. To lead, firms must benefit from highly talented graduates as well as from world class science and inventiveness.”

With this in mind and scientific research at the forefront of the business, Farm Urban were introduced to leading innovation and commercialisation consultancy Inventya, one of the partners involved in the ERDF-funded Centre for Global Eco-Innovation (CGE) project. The centre is a collaboration between Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool and Inventya. It offers commercialisation and R&D support to North West businesses with eco-innovative products, services or processes.

Inventya worked with Farm Urban to identify an opportunity for an internship and liaised with the University of Liverpool to secure the right person.

Guild Rooftop Render2r

Welcoming an intern to Farm Urban

Adam Sadiq was studying for an MSc in sustainable design and was taken on board at Farm Urban to further the application of Aquaponics. Adam’s role was to produce a series of architectural designs for three sites in Liverpool and a research report on contemporary developments in urban farming technologies. Speaking about the project, Adam said: “It gave me the chance to investigate cutting-edge science and technology to solve practical environmental problems, whilst working closely with the local community and businesses.

“We came across many challenges in trying to make the sites both low carbon and productive, whilst being robust to the UK’s climate. This included investigating the potential of vertical growing systems, renewable energy such as anaerobic digestion and experiments with a range of fish and plant species.”

Founder of Farm Urban, Paul Myers said: “The work carried out by Adam was extremely valuable to us and really boosted our development of ground-breaking solutions in the city. Three of the projects Adam worked on went on to gain further funding enabling us to take them to the next phase of development. Working with Inventya and the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation to secure this placement elevated our research capacity and has helped us to attract additional contracts and further the business. This shows how important it is for university, government and business to continue to collaborate together to solve environmental problems.”