As we find ourselves 9 months into our project, we are reflecting on our experience so far and looking forward to what 2023 has to offer.
2022 in Review
The summer of 2022 saw the official kick-off of Phase 2 of the Soilless Cultivation for Rapid Biomass Feedstock Production project, that we have now titled Taeda Tech Project. After a successful Phase 1 we were delighted to receive a further £4 million from BEIS’s Biomass Feedstock Innovation Programme to demonstrate our aeroponic technology’s potential to increase biomass in the UK.
Our team has now expanded to a core of 15 academic and industry experts as well ambitious PhD and research fellows. We are growing a supportive and collaborative team and encouraging our colleagues to utilise the opportunity of working on such a large project to innovate and take risks. Explore our innovative team and partners on our website.
In September, we invited representatives from BEIS to Rothamsted Research, one of the project partners and where we currently host our demonstration site. It was a successful site visit where we got the opportunity to share our ambitions and tour the trials.
There is interesting data emerging from across our plant trials and it is clear that short rotation coppice willow is taking to the aeroponic system. With team effort we completed two harvests from across our systems and are looking forward to when the time is right to plant the cuttings in 2023 and see how well they take up in the field.
This has not been without challenge, particularly caused by the cold weather the UK experienced in December. That being said, this is what ambitious innovation looks like. The next three years are about trouble shooting, so any hurdle we come across we know that it’ll strengthen our work.
2023 Project Plans
A very exciting milestone happening in 2023 is that we are building a state-of-the-art greenhouse and polytunnel at the University of Surrey. They are tailored to fit our trials as we ideally need at least 5 meters of head height so that the willow can grow and thrive. As a result, these facilities will expand the capacity of the trials and strengthen our plant science data. They also provide an opportunity to expand our team and introduce different expertise into the fold.
We’re also manufacturing the first updated iteration of our technology, for we are still working with what we affectionately nickname our bootleg system. Our bootleg system has functioned exceptionally well so it will be interesting to see what a specifically manufactured system can achieve.
There are a number of conferences in our diary for the year ahead. We are looking forward to talking publicly about our project and the rigorous research that is feeding into it. Come and find us at Low Carbon Agriculture and NovelFarm in February. And be the first to know what other conferences we will be attending throughout the year via our social media.
As sustainable and secure energy remains a top priority for the UK government, it is an exciting time to be involved in such an ambitious and fast-paced sector. Let’s see what 2023 has to offer.