Why are Americans getting heavier, experiencing more chronic and life-threatening diseases, and ultimately becoming unhealthier than generations past when there seems to be such a focus on “healthy” foods? The surge of diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and numerous forms of cancers have been increasing since the 1950s, right on the tail-end of the Industrial Revolution which made sedentary lifestyles the norm. Still, those old-fashioned diets of meat and potatoes seemed to serve our ancestors well—what are we doing wrong?
Junk food aside, perhaps our “healthy” food isn’t as good for us as we think and it’s not nearly as accessible as we need. It’s time a holistic and comprehensive approach to making our food safer was taken, and that starts at the source: Our farms. Aqua-Yield is an agri-businesses made up of farmers for farmers. Even though it was only founded three years ago, great strides in the farming technology sector has been made.
Here are just a few issues Aqua-Yield tackles in the quest for healthier food:
1. Minimizing the effects of climate change. We might not be able to fix climate change in one fell swoop, but small efforts add up. Climate change has led to more unhealthy crops, which means less quality volume of crop yields. Aqua-Yield balances the negative effects of climate change by increasing crop production via nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of atomic, molecular and supramolecular matter. “Nano” means “dwarf” in Greek, but is now used to denote a very small measurement scale, often about one billionth of a meter. In many fields such as engineering, manipulating matter at this scale has big implications. Although often used in industrial-scale manufacturing, medicine, computing, textiles and cosmetics, it’s rarely been used in agriculture—until now. Aqua-Yield has capitalized on nanotechnology to craft a nano-shield that shows great promise to maximize soil nutrition and increase germination rates.
2. Balancing competitive production with sustainable processes. Competition on a level playing field will encourage overall success of big farms and small-scale operations alike. It’s a necessity for a healthy economy.
3. Providing more clean water. Especially with larger fields, getting access to clean water has become a challenge for many farmers. Most rely on groundwater, which usually boasts a lot of impurities (particularly if the farms have or are near livestock).
With Aqua-Yield, well water is pumped into a lab that processes and removes all impurities. Next, particles are made up to 100 times smaller while nutrient ions are wrapped in nano-sized shields. Now, plant roots and leaves can absorb the end product better and faster. With almost no impurities remaining, there’s a much lower chance of experiencing a reactive reaction from fertilizers, too. Nutrients in the water and soil are safeguarded and transferred more evenly to crops. The process from start to finish takes less than one hour.
4. Lowering fertilization costs. Getting fertilization just right is part science and part trial and error. Aqua-Yield takes a lot of the potential side effects out of fertilization thanks to reducing reactive reactions, ultimately decreasing cost of fertilization while increasing the quality of crop productions. In fact, using Aqua-Yield has been shown to dramatically decrease the need for using fertilizers at all.
Aqua-Yield’s nanotechnology also helps keep water pH levels in balance, saving farmers money as they are required to use less and less fertilizers chasing that elusive perfectly balanced concoction.
5. Reducing production time. More crop production, better soil nutrition, higher germination rates and lower fertilization costs all add up to less production time. The main function of Aqua-Yield is to protect plant nutrition as it travels through sprayers or irrigation systems, delivering nutrients directly to the plant cell. Plants are perfectly safe through the Aqua-Yield process, and although fertilizers may still be used, there is often minimal need for them.
Who’s Using Aqua-Yield?
This nanotechnology might be relatively new, but it’s also well tested. Patented, it’s already been embraced by many communities and farmers around the country including Sorrels Groves, Winstead Turf Farms, Womack Grooves and Biograss Sod Farms. The State of Utah has also acknowledged Aqua-Yield for major contributions in agricultural technology and environmental science. Aqua-Yield was awarded the Best of State in Environmental Science for two years in Utah, as well as the Miller Innovation Award in 2015.
In southern Florida, the citrus industry has warmly embraced Aqua-Yield and the company’s distributor, TriYield. Incredible bounds have been made in citrus greening, and Jonathon Brown of Bethel Farms says, “Utilizing the AY technology, we have really seen an increase in production with a 25 – 30 percent reduction in our input cost. With a healthier crop, we have been able to use less water while also reducing insecticides and fungicides. It’s a win-win! We are decreasing our inputs into the environment and increasing crop yield.”
Aqua-Yield is proof that great things come in small packages, and our current reliance on an imperfect food system demands a major agriculture movement like Aqua-Yield to create high quality crops.