Indoor farming specialist pioneers ultrasonic technology to grow plants with sound

The Bristol-based company supplies vertical farm technology to farms and growers in the UK. Its customers use the equipment to cultivate leafy greens and herbs. Founded in 2015, LettUS Grow secured 2.9 million dollars in seed funding at the beginning of 2020. It specializes in aeroponics: a method of growing plants without soil. Instead of growing in soil, plant roots are suspended in air — this mimics the air pockets found in a healthy soil system, boosts access to oxygen, and results in much faster growth of the plant.

The company says its patent-pending technology has huge potential in the UK but there are even more opportunities abroad, especially in places such as Scandinavia, where there’s very little natural light in winter, or the Middle East, where water is at a premium.

Growing plants with sound

The company has now revealed it is experimenting with applying ultrasonic technology to grow crops inside vertical farms and greenhouses.

It claims this innovation has the potential to increase domestic food production and conserve natural resources.

Ultrasonics is sound that travels at frequencies above 20,000 Hz – above the range of human hearing. It’s commonly used in sonar or imaging, but its application in large-scale, commercial horticulture is completely novel, according to the start-up. This alternative growing method, it said, allows plant roots to grow healthier and faster than in hydroponics, which is the most common irrigation system used in greenhouses and vertical farms today. In-house trials at LettUs Grow have shown that this ultrasonic method can grow some crops up to twice as fast as in comparable hydroponic systems, while also using much less water.

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