What is aeroponics?
Aeroponics is an innovative agricultural technology that utilizes mist air instead of either soil or water. For a plant to grow well, its roots must have access to oxygen. When aeroponics is employed, the roots are fully emerged into the mist air. This enables the plant to grow faster and to be very tasty, aromatic and highly nutritious.
Who invented the aeroponics? How does it differ from the hydroponics?
Aeroponics was invented by the Colorado University researcher Richard J. Stoner II in 1983. The corresponding patent was granted to him in 1985.
Aeroponics came to solve the main problem the hydroponics, another farming technology competing with the traditional agriculture, had been facing: in order to grow properly, the plant’s roots need oxygen. Its concentration in water, however, cannot exceed 8 mg per 1 L. For many plants, this is not enough. R.J. Stoner’s innovative technology can be considered an enhancement of the hydroponics. Yet the former is, actually, an antipode of the latter: instead of growing plants in water that contains a small quantity of air, aeroponics utilizes air that contains a relatively small quantity of water.
The new technology made its way to the NASA labs. Its experts ran a series of aeroponic experiments aboard the space shuttles and the Mir International Space Station. These studies contributed a lot to the development of the aeroponic technology and equipment which have been used on Earth.
What are the advantages of the aeroponic farming as compared to the conventional agriculture?
Aeroponics can be applied at the large-scale level while still using relatively small facilities: at our 1 acre greenhouse we harvest as much greenery as a 50 acre field yields when the conventional agricultural methods are applied.
As opposed to the traditional farming, the employees at an aeroponic greenhouse stay in an air-conditioned, comfortably equipped building and don’t have to work odd hours.
Aeroponics is ecologically beneficial. Growing crops on large agricultural fields entails the utilization of the heavy pesticides, which cause damage to both the environment and the human health. In aeroponic greenhouses, however, these pesticides have become obsolete. Instead, one can employ a system of physical obstacles that prevent the insect from coming into contact with the plant. After that, reduced-risk substances can be applied to make sure that the produce is insect-free.
Aeroponics helps save water and energy. At Aleinu, we utilize the closed loop irrigation system. This technology has enabled us to consume 90% less water as compared to the conventional agriculture. To ensure the water circulation in our 1 acre greenhouse, we only have to use eight 1.1 kW pumps, working alternately.
Aeroponics doesn’t create noise, waste products or bad odor.
Thanks to aeroponics, the crops can now be grown in cities and towns. This means that the produce can be supplied to the customers directly, with no storage and distribution stations on its way. As a result, its prime cost goes down, while the urban residents benefit from the freshest greens, herbs, fruits and vegetables.
Aeroponic greenhouses yield premium quality produce regardless of the climate conditions and/or the ecological situation.
“The yield is 50 times higher as compared to the conventional agriculture” – How is this possible at all?
We grow our produce in the eco-friendly plastic conduits mounted on a special conveyer. The mist air circulates inside of them providing the roots with nutrients and oxygen. As opposed to the soil-based agriculture, in which the distance between the plants seeded is set up based on their future maximal size, the distance between the plastic conduits on the conveyer varies depending on the stage of the plant’s growth. As a result, we can grow much more plants per square meter than the traditional farming does. Besides, thanks to the abundance of oxygen, the plants in aeroponic greenhouses develop much faster.
“Reduced-risk substances” – what does it mean?
Substances of the primarily vegetable origin. They are only harmful to insects and cause no damage to either people, or animals, or the environment as a whole.
What happens if the water circulation stops for some reason?
Our technology combines the advantages of both aeroponics and hydroponics: water circulates in the closed conduits and humidifies the air inside of them. As a result, we don’t have to employ the misting and/or fogging irrigation, which is still practiced by most aeroponic greenhouses. If the misting sprinklers stop working (e.g. because of a power shutdown), the root system starts drying immediately, which causes an irreversible damage to the plant. In our greenhouse, however, there is always water in the conduits – in quantity just enough to moisturize the plant’s root system. Even if it stops circulating, the plants are still safe (the adult plants can hold for up to 15 minutes, the seedlings – for up to 3 weeks).
What plants can I grow employing the aeroponics?
In principle, aeroponics can be utilized to grow any plant, the only limitation being the size of the gear. Our aeroponic conduits have been designed to fit the plants with relatively small root systems. You can use our gear to grow mint, basil, parsley, sage, lettuce, arugula, as well as many other greens, herbs and even flowers.
The aeroponic units you recommend for the indoors are equipped with lights. Does it mean that the plants that grow in them do not have to be exposed to the sun light?
Regardless of the farming method employed, most plants must be exposed to the sun light for at least four hours per day. The lights in our indoor aeroponic units are efficient at night – they increase the plant’s exposure to the light and thus enable it to grow faster. Yet the sun light is still essential.