Partner Profile | Huxley.io
Huxley is an agriculture company that uses computer vision and AI to automate greenhouses for food or cannabis. The Hydroponics teaching system helps growers to save 95% of water, 2/3 carbon emissions, and half the nutrients of regular agriculture. Also by detecting pests and mildews, Huxley can save 5-10% of crops within a greenhouse planting area. Huxley just debuted their technology on Summit at Sea and is looking forward to steady growth in their business this next year as they project their plant vision across the globe.
We had the pleasure to interview the founder of Huxley.io, Ryan Hooks, about his company and his mission to conserve clean water across the globe. His words below:
Agriculture means to cultivate in the soil. The next era of farming is called Hydroculture, which is cultivating in nutrient based water that is circulated throughout a system. Hydroculture uses as much as 95% less water than Agriculture. This is important because our world is running out of clean water. If we make the shift to Hydroculture, we can eventually arrive at a water surplus instead of finding water scarcity where we are now. Today 80% of the world’s water is used for Agriculture alone.
How does Hydroponics use that much less water?
Hydroponics is not new, it has been around since WW2 in Japan when they used buckets for farming because the soil was not farmable. The methods are used in greenhouses around the world. The problem with hydroponics is that there is a steep learning curve for people to implement. Time, effort and education are three elements not everyone can commit to and so typically Hydroponics are used only for growing marijuana.
Huxley provides a computer vision systems that track plants in order to grow them most efficiently. These AI systems monitor the plant’s optimal environments including air, water, lights, and soil nutrients to assist farmers in growing their greens. The system knows what types of plants they are looking at as well as what disease may be affecting the plant. These methods allow for people to be onboarded to the field rapidly and also acts as an assistant to pre-existing farmers.
Where can Huxley be used? And where is it used today?
Huxley uses “Augmented Ecology” (a form of augmented reality) alongside their AI systems to train or assist growers with their plants; it tells you what to do, when to do it and what might be wrong if something is not working right. Huxley makes learning Hydroponics and maintaining a smart greenhouse easy and accessible to anyone who can use an app. Their technology can be used in existing greenhouses and their company is also relied upon as consultants to build new greenhouse projects. We are currently piloting our technology with growers around North America & Europe in cities such as Vancouver and Berlin.
By bringing this technology to the masses, does that mean that everyone should be able to easily grow their own food?
With any technology, you start with people who can afford it and then soon enough via economies of scale, it will be affordable for more people. There are home units for hydroponics that exist today which will grow fresh greens right in your home but we are hoping to disrupt the organic food market on a larger level.
We want communities to be able to grow more with the least input. In the future we hope that communities will have the option to purchase “drought free produce” and Huxley is the start to giving people that option. For example most of the water in California is used to grow lettuce where half of it gets eaten and the other half of it gets thrown away. That is a huge waste of water. We want this technology to create the drought free movement. We want to give people the option to use their purchasing power to buy back rivers across the world.
How do you see this technology being used in the next 10-20 years?
I think of it like this- When solar power first came on to market, no one took it seriously but technology always evolves. In 20 years, this will 100 percent be where most of our food comes from, especially since clean water around the world is disappearing. We may still need to grow bananas in the tropics since you can’t have trees in a greenhouse (yet) but at least most of our food will be from these systems.
Every day, vegetables are flown from Australia to Hong Kong because Hong Kong has no soil. They are creating more greenhouse emissions just by people eating in Hong Kong which is not sustainable. We want to offer a change that provides long term stability to these issues.
If you buy 100 acres in California or where the water level is just under the river level, and you put in a ton of smart greenhouses that use 1/10th of the surface area using 95% less water than the pre-existing farm, then probably within months we can have a surplus of water and the river would run again.
How did you come up with the concept of Huxley?
I spent many years working in the food space, creating documentaries about the industry and such. In the past few years I really was inspired to dive deep into all of the information I had learned through film making and started to create water and food solutions. Huxley is a new project named after the writer Aldous Huxley. Huxley was a very articulate futurist who showed us two options for the future, and I hope we pick the right one.