DryGro is an agriculture technology company that uses minimal water to produce high-protein animal feed ingredients
A Climate smart way to grow. DryGro is an agriculture technology company that grows animal feed crops on arid, otherwise unproductive land. Using novel growing techniques, DryGro has developed a new way to produce high quality feed ingredients for aquaculture, dairy, beef and poultry at a price-point lower than existing feed ingredients.
The Story of Soy
Since the 1940s, soybean meal has been the gold standard animal feed protein ingredient.
Between 1975 and the year 2000, we added 2 billion people to the planet. To keep pace with this population explosion, we needed to plant more soybeans – roughly 40m hectares, mostly in the US, Brazil and Argentina. When new land was needed, the solution was the conversion of land from other uses – and deforestation.
In 2019, we currently use 124m hectares of land for soy to serve 7.7 billion people.
But we’re still growing. By 2050 we will add another 2 billion people to the planet. In that period, we are expected to require an additional 55m hectares of land for soybeans – more than the entire area currently planted in Brazil and Argentina combined.
Where will this land come from? Nobody yet has a good answer.
DryGro is on a mission to provide an industrial-scale, sustainable alternative to fill this gap in soy production. A disruption of this scale hasn’t happened since the introduction of soy as a feed crop in the mid-1900s. This kind of disruption is not only possible – it is critically necessary to avoid a catastrophic breakdown in our current food systems.
Lemna, also known as “water lentil” is part of the duckweed family of tiny green floating plants that can be found all over the world.
Lemna is truly remarkable. Its protein content and amino acid profile are similar to soybean meal. For hundreds of years, Lemna has been used as a feed crop for small-scale farming operations in Asia and Africa . Since the 1970s, there have been dozens of university trials exploring the potential of Lemna as a feed ingredient for chickens, aquaculture, pigs, and cattle. The consensus is that Lemna makes an excellent animal feed protein and is a strong replacement for soybean meal.
Lemna is also one of the fastest growing crops in the world. Per hectare, Lemna can produce 10x more protein than soybeans .
Why isn’t Lemna an industry staple today? While Lemna grows very quickly, it usually grows outdoors on vast ponds. This outdoor growing method requires a large body water to produce marketable amounts of product, which makes it very difficult to produce at an industrial scale.
Lemna has incredible biological potential but needs the right technology advancements to be viable for industrial production…
DryGro is developing enclosed growing systems specifically designed to produce Lemna at industrial scale.
Our large growing units are roughly the size of half a football pitch. A specialised environment management system allows us to maintain optimal growing conditions, regardless of the weather outside .
Water is recycled, allowing for 99% less water consumption than soy production. And because of the unique traits of our plant DryGro can produce 8x more protein per hectare.
This technology builds upon recent advancements in vertical farming. Vertical farms use a data driven approach to producing horticulture crops. Sensors are placed throughout the growing chamber, capturing data on every aspect of the crop. DryGro takes a similar approach – but instead of growing vertically, DryGro uses arid land and spreads out horizontally. Rather than producing super-premium horticulture to feed a wealthy urban audience, we produce sustainable commodity crops to feed the world.
DryGro was founded at Oxford University in 2015. Since these early days, DryGro has partnered with Rothamsted Research, the European Space Agency, the UK Space Agency, Hatch.Blue, Greifswald University, University of Hertfordshire, and Open University to advance our technology.