Life in the Matrix

Terraseed

12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Terraseed is an UK-based producer of physical barrier systems for crops to eliminate the need for agrochemicals to control weeds, insects, and disease.

Author

Roz Sunley

Roz Sunley

School

Winchester Business School

Winchester Business School

Professor

Roz Sunley

Roz Sunley

Innovation

Terraseed, led by innovator and scientist David Holloway, is developing a method of eliminating the use of pesticides from agriculture. Many traditional growing techniques result in negative global environmental consequences. Terraseed offers a paper-polymeric matrix designed to allow for successful germination and the limitation of invasive weeds. This is achieved through a blue colouring on the base material that blocks out the ‘red light’ reaching the phytochromes in the plants below. A plastic film on top works to maintain heat and moisture levels, provides a physical barrier for protecting the base of the plant and reduces excessive water consumption and interference from predators.

Life in the Matrix

Inspiration

Terraseed’s Technical Director David Holloway describes himself as “an innovator and a scientist”; he identifies as an agent for change, as his self-indulgence has proved to be a catalyst for UK agricultural commercial improvement into a more environmentally-conscious industry. The “monstrous buzz” David gets from indulging in the trial and error of Terraseed’s inventions and business endeavors, means he lives by his fantastically disruptive advice to “go with your gut instinct” and “make it work”. The idea came about through David’s technical view of the natural world where he “saw a scientific solution to an ecological problem”. In the past David managed a food biological team for ADAS, the UK’s largest agricultural consultancy firm, and was a grade 6 civil servant in the UK Ministry of Agriculture for which he was responsible for solving environmental waste management issues. He recognizes business as “a way of making things happen”, and it was this thought that provoked him to “resign and walk out” in order to serve a greater purpose. After doing so he began transferring his extensive skills and knowledge into Terraseed to completely reverse the food industry for the benefit of the environment.

Overall impact

The main impact has been for the environment. The positive consequences of this innovation allow for more efficient crop growth, lower water consumption and reduction of predatory weed interference; removing the opportunity for pesticide abuse, supporting a safer agricultural environment. This all results in overall higher quality produce for the farmer and the consumer.

Though a strong environmental focus certainly exists at Terraseed, the innovation still fulfills the primary functions of business. The impact for the business itself has been on the international scale, where it has provoked a lot of interest. With working partners in different countries, such as Yding Gront in Demark, they have been able to achieve more sales through cooperation. This shows the innovation preparing to take off on a global scale.

The short-term effects of the innovation can be seen rapidly (in agricultural terms!) from the benefits resulting from more reliable crop turnout and healthier yields as well as the reduction of waste. This brings more employment and holds the key for increased food production for the world’s billions – particularly in inhospitable areas.

Besides the immediate benefits for the consumer, long-term effects include significant advantages from reducing the pesticide misuse that currently results in contamination of the air, water, soil, and animal life. Neonicotinoid pesticides, for example, have been found to cause brain damage in honeybees.

Business benefit

Terraseed’s products increase crop yield while shortening the growing time of several vegetable crops tested over several seasons.

The product, a portion of which uses plastic sheeting to cover crops, is fully recyclable.

Social and environmental benefit

Water splash from the soil onto plants is a major source of contamination from E.coli and Salmonella. Terraseed reduces microbiological and foreign body contamination and reduces the need for post-harvest treatment.

Terraseed prevents weed seeds from germinating below the seed mat, which reduces or eliminates the need for agrochemicals.

Terraseed mats help retain moisture in the soil and reduce the usage of water for plant irrigation. Further, Reduced irrigation demand and moisture retention reduce leaching of nutrients from the rooting zone into ground water thereby reducing the amount of fertilizer required and contamination of water sources.

Finally, by eliminating the need for chemical soil sterilization, Terraseed helps maintain soil stability. This greatly reduces the amount of soil loss from intensive horticultural holdings suffering from heavy rainfall or excessive irrigation.

Interview

David Holloway, Not available

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Terraseed

Terraseed

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