Shared Roots is an early-stage startup dedicated to developing and commercializing a soilless plant growth media derived from Brewer’s Spent Grain (BSG), a readily available, low-cost, regenerative waste product.
Peatlands are natural ecosystems that store approximately 33% of the planet’s soil carbon. Mining these bogs for peat moss releases this carbon into the atmosphere.
Demand for soilless substrates is predicted to double in 20 years due to diminishing resources, climate change legislation, and growth of the indoor agriculture industry.
American breweries produce more than 4.7 million tons of BSG waste per year. Brewers typically give this away to farmers to use as cattle feed or send it to landfills.
Comprised mostly of malted barley, BSG inherently has many physical, chemical, and biological properties that make it a good soilless media alternative. High in fiber (hemicellulose and cellulose), it has high water holding capacity, aggregate stability, and appreciable levels of minerals, including phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. It is also rich in protein, polysaccharides, and essential amino acids. These biochemical properties, however, also make it highly perishable.
Shared Roots is working to develop technological processes that preserve this high-value waste stream while also optimizing its properties for plant root development and seedling growth. As a soilless media the product will provide a sustainable alternative to peat-based products used by the horticultural industry.
Shared Roots has teamed with faculty from Penn State's College of Agriculture to pursue a National Science Foundation Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program Phase I grant to advance research, product development, and commercialization.