1000 Solutions - October 24, 2019
Food waste is not only one of the world’s biggest environmental challenges - accounting for approximately 10% of CO2 emissions - it is also a reflection of a highly inefficient system. Indeed, society emits carbon to grow, harvest, transport, and package food, of which one third ends up in landfills, where it emits methane, a highly polluting greenhouse gas. None of it makes sense.
When Serge Gander realized the amount of food wasted in the world annually - roughly 1.3 billion tonnes - he was absolutely appalled. But one specific type of food waste caught his attention: leafy vegetables. According to a study, 7 out of 10 salads never make it to our supermarket shelves or sandwiches. “We import salads and herbs by plane and truck from all around the world. This is both totally inefficient and illogical. I wanted to find a way to produce vegetables locally and much more efficiently” recalls Serge.
In 2013, CombaGroup was born. The Swiss company aims to reinvent the way we grow food thanks to an innovative mobile aeroponic system. While aeroponics is not new, the major innovation lies in their irrigation process, “we spent 4 years in the Research & Development phase to develop the system, known as a nutrient mist” says Serge.
Lettuce and plants are grown on a platform where their roots are suspended in the air. A mobile irrigation robot sprays the nutrient mist on the roots individually. Thanks to this automated spraying and a closed-loop water circuit, CombaGroup uses 40 times less water than traditional field farming.
But the benefits go beyond water savings:
In February 2019, CombaGroup launched its first commercial greenhouse with the French leader in bagged salads, Les Crudettes. Located in France, the farm’s surface is 5,000 sqm. The company is also working on more projects in places where water supply is an issue.
“We share a similar vision with Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse Foundation. Protection of the environment will only become a reality if we combine sustainability, efficiency and profitability” says Serge.
In July 2019, CombaGroup’s Mobile Aeroponics Farming system received the Solar Impulse Efficient Solution Label.