Controlled environment agricultureINNOVATION

The grow-anywhere soilless solution

Mebiol has invented a sustainable agro-technology that can effectively replace soil; demonstrably it enabled farmers to grow high quality vegetables safely even in soil-free locations places like deserts, concrete floors and seriously contaminated land where conventional farming is impossible.

Plant roots are attached to the surface of the Imec film

Plant roots are attached to the surface of the Imec film

During 2009, Mebiol successfully grew sweet tomatoes in the UAE to prove that effective farming could be achieved by using IMEC. This system saves up to 90% of the water used and makes farming viable in the desert. All technologies are proprietary to Mebiol; patents have been filed worldwide.

The technology (marketed under the name Imec) is based on leading-edge membrane and hydrogel technologies developed originally for medical applications. This functional polymeric hydromembrane has numerous nano-pores whose size is strictly controlled, such that it can absorb water and nutrients but excludes viruses and microbes. Even if the culture medium is contaminated or decayed, the produce cannot be attacked.

Imec looks like a plastic sheet on which the plant grows, with the water and fertilizer separated from the plant’s roots. The roots remain dry while drawing water and nutrients from below the membrane.

Since the  membrane blocks harmful viruses and germs, pesticides are unnecessary. Better yet, the “water stress” in the IMEC membrane induces crops like tomatoes to synthesize large amounts of sugar, lycopene and other beneficial elements, leading to greater sweetness and higher nutritional value.

Furthermore, water consumption in Imec is significantly reduced compared to conventional culture. The hydromembrane eliminates the need for soil, a major hurdle for industrialization of farming, and production costs are overwhelmingly reduced by its volume. The used hydromembrane can be safely incinerated or recycled by dissolving in hot water.

Contact: Yuichi Mori

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