“The world is facing a number of challenges right now, with climate change and food security being two major concerns. If we can help reduce the impact, that would be really cool!”
Meet Lauren Oehme and Leon Power, the Taranaki couple behind Nanobubble Agritech, providers of integrated nanobubble technology solutions for the agriculture sector.
Nanobubble Agritech is one of the start-ups taking part in the 2021 Sprout Accelerator Cohort B intake.
The idea for Nanobubble Agritech was conceived by co-founder Leon, while working in the nanobubble industry. With a background in agriculture, he recognised that there was huge potential for this cutting-edge technology to be used for agricultural irrigation.
“Nanobubble technology was gaining really good uptake in a couple of other industries, and I thought - we should be using this in agriculture!”
“There were some awesome aspects of the technology that we believed could be crossed over, but some technological barriers that needed to be overcome before that could happen. We thought if we could overcome those issues, we could have a really cool product with a huge market”.
Nanobubble technology is a method used to transfer gas to liquid, creating nanobubbles, which are defined as bubbles of any gas in water that are < 200nm in diameter. The Nanobubble Agritech solution is designed to take high amounts of oxygen and add it into irrigation water.
“We basically put heaps of oxygen into the water, using nanobubble technology. This allows the water to hold up to eight times more oxygen than it would have previously held, and when you use it in your water for crop irrigation, you get some really cool benefits - such as plant performance, improved growth rates and yield, and increased water utilisation, amongst other things”.
This system, developed by the couple this year, is suitable for on-farm trials at scale. Anticipating that a beta version will be ready for commercial installations early 2022. It will help farmers and growers to increase their crop yields and improve water efficiency.
“Farmers can use less water and achieve the same results, or use the same amount of water and achieve better yields. All without the need for any fertiliser or conventional chemical based products. Essentially, it's a chemical-free way of increasing your crop yield and getting more production out of your existing water levels”
The couple say that the need for technologies such as theirs is increasing globally. With climate change and a growing global population, water is becoming a limited and highly sought after resource.
“We see water, and the limits and restrictions on water resources as the number one issue facing farmers right now. Not so much just New Zealand farmers, but this is a huge challenge overseas”.
The Nanobubble Agritech team is currently made up of the two co-founders Leon and Lauren, who say their dynamic as a married couple, who are also business partners, is an interesting one.
“We obviously know each other well, and I think we have quite complementary strengths and skills. Leon is definitely the ideas man and I’m the one who tries to put a bit of practical perspective on things” says Lauren.
The company has big aspirations for the future, saying that the potential for nanobubble technology internationally is great.
“For us, our biggest aspiration is really to make a positive impact on the world. We want our technology to make a difference, and if we can have a kiwi company that's providing the best quality product, then that would be fantastic”.