Invisible Growth
Invisible Growth
Aquaponic farm Kaly
Invisible Growth
Aquaponic farm Kaly

New agriculture against the backdrop of a plant laboratory

Invisible farming does not need fields, it can take place virtually anywhere. It does not require land and uses hardly any water. One of the farms that do not need land to grow crops took shelter in an inconspicuous former pig farm in the middle of an ordinary village. The aquaponic farm in Kaly offers a glimpse of the possible future of agriculture and a liberated landscape that had been exhausted by intensive cultivation.

Salads and herbs grow under fluorescent lights in glass-walled sectors and under strict hygiene rules. Instead of beds, they grow from separate habitats where precisely measured trace amounts of nutrients flow through sophisticated ducts. Aquaponics does not work with artificial fertilizers or agrochemicals. The technological system on which it is based combines vegetable cultivation with fish farming. The fish provide fertiliser to the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish.

Compared to conventional farming, this technology brings 95 percent water savings, the possibility of vertical systems with more efficient use of space and year-round production independent of climate and weather. These aspects of aquaponics pose the question of how to reform agriculture and what impact this will have on a landscape that will no longer have to produce food to humans in endless, increasingly intensive and exhausting cycles.

The 1,000 m² aquaponic farm produces the same quantity of fish as 20 hectares of ponds and 18,000 m² of cultivated vegetable fields. In the future, the system can not only be used on giant farms, but also in small decentralised community units. In the subtle murmur of nutrients in the capillaries of the piping system, we can hear a call for a revolutionary rethinking of our relationship to agriculture, land, water, landscape – and of our own approach to food and consumption. The fish in tubs in the dark hall will be mute witnesses to our difficult decision-making.

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Kaly: When crops grow from nothing

An inconspicuous building of a former pig farm in a small village near Brno houses a laboratory that develops agricultural processes with a revolutionary potential. On either side of a narrow corridor on the first floor, lettuce and herb seedlings grow in racks in sterile conditions behind glass and exposed to ultraviolet light. They are supplied with precisely measured and PC-controlled rations of nutrients through pipes from the building’s ground floor section, where fish are farmed. Sara’s instruments uncover sophisticated technological processes that allow plants to be grown without soil and practically also without water. The recorded soundscapes and elements prompt us to think about how agricultural production concentrated under one roof that does not require field farming using tractors and fertilizers can change our future and what forms of social arrangement it makes possible.

Field notes