Hydroponics, algae, vertical vegetable gardens, desalination, research on crops. At Expo Milano 2015, the solutions for the food of the future and for increasing food security are present in many Pavilions. In some they form the common thread of the visitor path: here is a selection.
In the room dedicated to the power of the limit, the visitor is introduced to 21 stories of agricultural and agro-food innovation with a series of holograms and short films. Such as that of the Ferrari Farm which has created three sterile hermetic greenhouses based on a hydroponic system, unique in Europe, to cultivate plants of a high quality with no pathogens, regardless of the weather conditions outside. Or that of the Ocean Reef project which has generated an underwater crop of basil using a system of balloon biospheres anchored to the bottom of the sea off Noli. The large quantities of carbon dioxide act as steroids for the plants, making them grow at much quicker rates.
The visitor is led along a “time passage”, which takes him from 2015 to 2050. What will we be eating? Here there is a sort of ‘workshop of the solutions of the future’. The systems presented include: hydroponic and aquaponic solutions (with real tanks of fish), others based on the use of insects (effectively allowed in Belgium as an ingredient when mixed in with other alimentary flours), and the rediscovery of common wild plants.
United Arab Emirates
For the country, the theme of Expo Milano 2015 is fundamental as 85 percent of its food is imported and the scarcity of water resources poses a constant challenge. With this in mind, a series of 48 holographic installations divided into 24 cubes has been set up, presenting 12 challenges and 12 solutions. For example: to tackle the challenge of climate change, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture is studying edible plants that resist the specific saline conditions found in the Emirates.
German projects on the recovery of phosphorus as fertilizer are presented in the area dedicated to water. In the part dedicated to the land, several interactive screens inform visitors about projects such as agro-forestation to prevent erosion and stabilize the water balance. The next area along hosts solutions that combine climate protection, sustainable procurement, energy and food, such as agro-photovoltaic systems or the combined use of surfaces for energy and agriculture. Finally, visitors can also see projects for the conservation and promotion of biodiversity, including the Gene Bank in Gatersleben.
Japan’s contribution to the problems of the Planet is illustrated in scene three of the Pavilion, fittingly entitled "Innovation". Two animated mascots, Morizo and Chiccolo, explain the food challenges of the Planet to a robot using simple language. By touching one of the four world maps positioned in the sides of the room, visitors can discover the solutions that Japan has proposed to the various food problems on a global scale.
Israel presents itself as a ‘granary of knowledge’. The exterior of the Pavilion features a vertical field which relies on an irrigation system with a low environmental impact, patented in Israel and typical of the most advanced Israeli agricultural techniques because it saves water and reduces emissions of polluting substances. In the second room, Israel’s contributions to international agricultural innovation are presented, such as the cultivation of a higher quality of wheat for making pasta and automated milking techniques.
The interactive contents are presented in 15 circles. In the fifth circle, dedicated to aquaculture, a method called milking is introduced, which enables the eggs to be extracted from sturgeons without killing the animal. In the sixth circle, dedicated to the agriculture of the future, the focus is on the risk posed by locusts, which devastated more than two million hectares of crops in 2013. Scientists have studied a system which involves monitoring areas with drones to identify the breeding grounds involved.
The visit to the Kuwait Pavilion is a journey of discovery which aims to show visitors what life in the desert is like, and how the Kuwaitis have succeeded in making their territory a welcoming land full of resources. At the end of the second room, on the glass walls, a vertical vegetable garden made with hundreds of hydroponic plants represents the Middle Eastern country’s commitment to the development of agriculture.
The date palms, at the heart of the agricultural tradition in Oman, are at the center of the section “Our rich agricultural heritage”, with the project “one million palms”, which is scheduled to end in 2025. An installation reproduces a simplified version of the aquaponic system. In the section “The treasures of our seas” the visitor learns that the country is building an artificial barrier reef, using entirely natural installations on the sea bed around which calcifications will form.
The government of Qatar is investing in state-of-the-art agricultural projects with the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP): a hydroponic system, desalination, the production of water from the humidity of the air (AgriVerde), microalgae for aquaculture. Qatar is also creating a hub for the port designed to make transport more efficient. With the Filaha project, the government is promoting the dissemination of certain ancient texts on traditional cultivation methods to verify whether these can be applied to modern agriculture.
The Pavilion highlights a series of innovative projects or prototypes created by start-ups and university departments in Slovakia. Some examples? Smart hydroponic systems for home growing (Croptech), energy drinks that can be obtained by liquefying spelt grain to make a natural drink made form cereals (Functional food) or materials in plastic produced with 100 percent natural materials such as corn and sugar beet (Biodegradable bio-plastic).
The vertical vegetable garden is the aspect that best sets off American Food 2.0: a large wall divided into motorized panels which continuously turn to face the sun. The system is capable of powering over 40 varieties of crops based on a system that relies on hydroponics and water recovery. Inside too there are suspended tanks, equipped with a light system capable of stimulating the growth of the plants. A series of videos illustrates American innovation in agriculture, politics, cuisine, food, industry and research.