How to do Best Aeroponic Farming?
Growing plants is not as easy as it looks. Before plantation you have to learn everything about the plants and its needs. You have to save them from soil degradation, pests or any other diseases too. Apart from this, you will have to provide proper sunlight, water, nutrients, space and many more.
As time grows, new farming systems have also emerged so as to fulfill all the needs of the plants in an easy and convenient way. One such system is the Hydroponic farming system of which Aeroponics is the most convenient and could be the most trending among the farmers and home growers in near future.
Aeroponics is a specialized version of Hydroponics or we can say that it’s a subset of Hydroponics in which the roots of the plants are hung in the air and are directly sprayed with the mixture of nutrient water.
Here we will study Aeroponics and its working in this article.
What is Aeroponics?
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in air without actually dipping it in the nutrient solution or in a mist medium without soil or any aggregate medium.
Aeroponic is derived from Greek words ‘aer’ meaning ‘air’ and ‘ponos’ meaning ‘labour’. This technique was first introduced in 1940 and since then researchers are adding to its theory and finding applications. It is a more convenient way to grow plants in a soil free environment. Jn an Aeroponic system, plants are not rooted to any substrate materials like rockwood or soil, instead it is hung in the air in grow chambers with nutrient rich water being sprayed on it at regular intervals.
This makes Aeroponics more advanced than Hydroponics or any other farming system. As plants need nutrients to grow so when these are delivered to the roots directly they grow more quickly. Here the roots are directly exposed in air so the roots are more in contact with oxygen which helps them absorb more nutrients and hence aeroponic plants grow faster. Also there are no threats of any diseases or pathogens at the root zone. But still bacteria and fungi tend to develop in Aeroponic chambers because the plants are always wet with the nutrient solution and hence regular sterilization and monitoring is required so as to keep the plants healthy.
Working of an Aeroponic system
The basic principle of Aeroponics is the growing of plants suspended in an air or mist environment with its roots directly sprayed by nutrient rich water solution. The plants are exposed to air so they could get a high volume of oxygen to stimulate their growth and could grow rapidly as compared to those grown in soil. Also it doesn’t require any growing medium.
In an Aeroponic farming system, the plants are placed within a sealed container in some growing chambers, inserted in holes inside a reservoir. The growing chambers contain some holes in which the plants are inserted with hanging baskets. These chambers should not be heavy weight and should allow light to penetrate so that algae or pests cannot thrive into it. These plants require some support system to hold their stems in place which should be rigid and flexible to keep the plants upright and have enough space for them to grow .
The pump or sprinkler system ( having a mixture of some nutrient rich water solution with some growing hormones) sprays the plants inside the reservoir which gets absorbed by them and stimulates the plant’s growth and also maintains the required moisture inside.
The timer allows you to maintain the timing of the spray intervals so as to maintain the oxygen exposure of the plants as they are suspended in air. Aeroponics helps plants grow rapidly in a moist rich environment.
Materials required for an Aeroponic Setup
- A reservoir/container for holding the nutrient solution.
- Pump & Nozzles
- Suspending Baskets for plants
- Growing chambers and enclosed container for these chambers
Best plants to grow using Aeroponic Farming
Aeroponics is an innovative way to grow fruits and vegetables in a mist air environment without any involvement of the soil. It works well with a wide variety of plants. Lettuce and Herbs are best for Aeroponic farming at home.
Lots of fruits and vegetables can be grown using Aeroponic farming.
Some of them are:
- Sweet Potato
Advantages & Limitations of an Aeroponic system
Aeroponics are home to many planters but before starting you should be aware of its advantages and certain limitations it holds.
We will learn some pros and cons of Aeroponics here.
- Faster Growth – Plants grow quickly as every process is artificial and hence plants mature faster and hence it produces great harvests.
- Healthy & High quality crops – Plants are exposed to excess oxygen, thus they are healthy and more stronger.
- Easy maintenance – Everything can be directly maintained by providing the right amount of nutrients in the right time. Also setting up the equipments properly is also important. There is no requirement of weeding or pests removal. You just have to look after the reservoir cleaning and sterilization of the system to prevent bacteria or fungal growth.
- Less Space – It requires very less space than any traditional farming so you can grow more crops in less area.
- No Growing media – It doesn’t require any growing medium or substrates unlike Hydroponics.
- Less nutrients and water – Here the nutrients get absorbed at a higher rate, so less nutrients are required. Also the need of water is also lower than any other farming system.
- Mobility – Plants can be moved around without any effort by just moving the plants from one collar to another.
- Higher Yields – Due to the requirement of less space and less materials, more plants can be grown at a time with faster rate promoting to higher yields.
- The whole system can be cleaned easily.
- Old plants can be replaced with new ones easily.
- Great Educational value – Encourages learning about plants and kids / adults could use this system to grow pet plants and learn about them.
- Environmental benefits – Less water & fertilizer is used so it prevents fertilizer runoff to the ecosystem which could damage or kill the aquatic life and also prevents water pollution.
- Highly technical – It is highly dependent on technology and machines and any system failure or malfunction could harm the plants.
- Requirement of Technical Expertise – It is important for handling the machines because it is very essential to have technical understanding. Also you need to do proper research about your plants and its requirements before installing the system.
- Costly – The cost for initial setup is very high.
- It is susceptible to power outages.
- Regular monitoring and supervision is required.
- pH and nutrient density ratio is to be maintained because the plants could be harmed as it is sensitive.
- Regular disinfection of the root chambers is required as it could lead to bacterial and fungal issues.
Aeroponics have higher yields and massive growth of the plants as compared to any other farming systems. But being so advantageous, the price of setup too is higher than any other systems. Also, it requires technical expertise for monitoring and supervision of the plants and the whole system.
Aeroponic farming is a convenient method to solve the requirement of arable space for cultivation as it doesn’t require so much land. Also it consumes less water and growth of plants is rapid, so it could help the farmers to produce more food quickly for everyone and provide help to fight the scarcity of food and hunger. It also reduces pests and land pollution as there is little to no use of pesticides, weedicides or insecticides.
It could be an evolution in the farming sector. But before planning to cultivate crops using Aeroponic farming one should properly research and understand the pros and cons and then decide what and why they need to plant using this method