Replace soil with foam to solve global food security crisis, say scientists

by Sophie Armour

“Nuestro Huerto / Our Garden (2012-2013)” by Matias Salinas Arenas is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Specially developed foams could help avert a global food security crisis by replacing fast-degrading soils, according to scientists.

Experts from the new Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield have found that crops planted in polyurethane foams at an urban farm grow two to 10 times faster than plants grown in soil.

Using a network of pipes, nutrient solutions, controlled growing environments and foams, scientists are growing everything from salad to tomatoes—demonstrating a potential solution to the global crisis of soil fertility.