Aeroponic technique: an ultimate solution in food security
Ahmad Latif Virk*1, Naeem Ahmad2, Muhammad Umair Yasin2, Ghulam Hasan3 and Muhammad Wasim Shoukat3
1 Agro-climatology Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
2 Crop Nutrition and Irrigation Management Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
3 Integrated Pest Management Lab, Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
*Corresponding Author Email: [email protected]
Aeroponics is the practice of rising plants in an airy or misty environment without the use of any medium. With the passage of time, population of under developing countries like Pakistan is rising at high rate. Due to urbanization and mismanagement of natural resources, it has become a difficult task for agriculturists to meet the food demand of the rising population. Due to the urbanization and industrialization, the agricultural lands are decreasing gradually. Therefore, the vertical approach (to increase production per unit area) is another option to meet the dietary needs. On the other hand, shortage of water is another major issue of Pakistan’s agriculture. Therefore, it is necessary that to get maximum crop production by minimum utilization of land and less quantity of water. Aeroponic is a technique that is ultimate solution in modern age.
In 1986, Stoner for the first time grow fresh food aeroponically. There are so many food plants like tomato, lettuce, watermelons, mints, ginger, strawberries, and egg plants. Which have been successfully grown by aeroponic technique. This technique not only we save water, nutrients and money but we also save precious time. For instance in traditional cultivation tomatoes are transplanted after four weeks whereas in case of aeroponic technique tomatoes transplantation can be done only after ten days. Therefore, aeroponic technique gives up to six tomato crops in a year, instead of one to two tomato crops by traditional way. This technique is quite different from hydroponics and aquaponics techniques. In hydroponic technique, nutrient solution is provided as a growing medium whereas in aquaponic water and fish wastes are used as a growing medium to sustain plant growth. While in aeroponic technique, the plant roots are not constantly surrounded by any medium (Soil or nutrient solution). The basic principle of aeroponic is to raise plants in a close or semi congested protected environment by spraying the plant’s roots and lower stem with hydro optimized nutrient-rich solution.
In this technique, physical contact of plant with medium is kept minimal so that it does not hamper plant’s growth and root expansion. In aeroponic technique plant, spend 99.98 per cent of their growth period in air and only 0.02 per cent in hydro optimized nutrient rich solution. During airy period, roots are dry which minimized the risk of diseases and capture oxygen more efficiently. In case of soil and other nutrient medium disease can easily spread throughout the medium. Whereas aeroponic technique can limit the chances of disease transmission because in this system plant-to-plant contact is minimized and each pulse of spray is sterile. Aeroponic system can reduces 100 per cent usage of pesticide. As in aeroponic system a hydro-atomized spray is use to deliver nutrients to plants so it minimizes water usage and increases oxygen supply to roots which offers excellent plant growth and development. In traditional cultivation 200-400 liters of water is required to produce one kg of tomatoes, while hydroponic need 70 liters and in case of aeroponic, it required only 20 liters of water. A number of different nutrient solutions can be provided to the root zone by using aeroponic technique. The composition of nutrient can be control.
Moreover, plants roots absorb only as much of the nutrient as they need. Among all other systems, the aeroponic system is the most cost effective. Because there is no need of any kind of substrate, very less amount of water and limited dose of nutrients are needed as compared to other nutrient delivery systems. Growing indoors changes both pest pressure and the pest environment. Plants are grown in a machine inside the building and not out in the open where they attract pests.