When Serge Gander realized how much food is wasted worldwide every year – about 1.3 billion tons – he was appalled. But one particular type of food waste caught his attention: leafy greens. According to one study, 7 out of 10 salads never make it onto our supermarket shelves or sandwiches. “We import salads and herbs by plane and truck from all over the world. This is both completely inefficient and illogical. I wanted to find a way to produce vegetables locally and much more efficiently.“, Serge recalls.
A new way to grow leafy greens that reduces water use and carbon emissions and doesn’t use pesticides.
In 2013, the CombaGroup was founded. The Swiss company aims to reinvent the way we grow food thanks to an innovative mobile aeroponic system. Aeroponics is not new, but the biggest innovation is in its irrigation process.“We spent 4 years in the research and development phase to develop the system known as nutrient mist,” Serge says.
Lettuce and plants are grown on a platform where the roots hang in the air. A mobile irrigation robot sprays the nutrient mist individually onto the roots. Thanks to this automatic spraying and a closed water circuit, CombaGroup uses 40 times less water than traditional farming.
However, the benefits go beyond water savings:
- The yield of the farm is almost 90%, which results in significantly lower production losses.
- Thanks to a climate-controlled environment, the lettuces and herbs are grown without the use of pesticides.
- Strategically located near distribution and consumer centers, farms can dramatically reduce carbon footprints.
In February 2019, CombaGroup launched its first commercial greenhouse with Les Crudettes, the French leader in bagged salads. The plant is located in France and has an area of 5,000 m². The company is also working on other projects in areas where water supply is a problem.
“We share a similar vision as Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse Foundation. Environmental protection only becomes 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.