Praveen Sharma, Flora Consult, [email protected]
World population to, reach above 9 billion by 2050, from existing 7.2 Billion. The Urban population will increase from 50% to 68 % by 2050.
This is a major concern because the land area of the Earth is limited only to about 13 billion ha, in 2008, the total agriculture area in the world was about 4.88 billion Ha (FAPSTA, 2010).
The Agriculture Land/ Arable Land is ever decreasing per person
WWF – notes that agriculture wastes 60% of the 2,500 trillion liters (1,500 trillion liters of water) it uses each year; or 70% of the world’s accessible water.
Pressure of High Production from Limited Area:
The high density urban populations, developed art of living in High Rise Sky Scrapers and migrated from large Villas, Bungalows, Cottages. So that, more number of people can stay in limited surface area. Now time has come to do the same for farming.
Utilize vertical spaces and have higher plant population per square meter.
Following are various growing techniques with their merits in terms of productivity;
- Soil Based Greenhouse Cultivation: The soil based cultivation has simple crop planting on typical raised beds, and has plant population of 12 -15 plants per sqm. The entire volume of Greenhouse which is approximately 20000 cubic meters is not fully utilized.
- Horizontal NFT Grow System: This is advanced Nutrient Film Technique Grow System, which involves 15 to 18 plants per square meter. The growth is done in protected cultivation with climate controlled greenhouses. The Fan and Pad Cooling system is used 24 hrs to maintain climate for 15 plants per square meter, the pumps are run 24 hours.
- A- Frame: This is a form of vertical farming being used for growing NFT gullies in A Frame. The Plant Population in this case increases to as high as 25 Plants per square meter in a greenhouse
- Vertical NFT Towers: This is great innovation, which has vertical growing, with NFT System. The Roots are always submerged in flowing nutrients water. The plants population can be even higher as high as 44 plants per square meter. This technique too has potential to reach higher plant population
- Vertical Aeroponics Grow System: This system is one of the most efficient grow system, having most modern technology of Aeroponics, the plants population under greenhouses can be as high as 75 plants, same can be higher to 114 plants if a 7.6 m high Polycarbonate Sheet Greenhouse is considered.
- Indoor Vertical Aeroponics Grow System: This is future of farming. In this system one can grow above 500 Tons of Veggies just from an acre of land. The growing is done under full control of various standard crop parameters, like Light, Temperature, Humidity, Co2 etc. Below is a typical view of a similar grow facility
Classification of various growing technique:
The above table shows the exponential production one can derive against the normal open field cultivation. The productivity under vertical Aeroponics grows system increases by 10 times in a greenhouse based vertical project to 30 times in case of Indoor vertical Aeroponics Grow System.
There is wide spread knowledge about fundamental growing techniques like NFT, Raft DWC and A-Frames.
Looking at the growing pressure on Energy Cost, Operations Cost and Productivity, there is demand to introduce more advance systems.
Vertical Aeroponics Grow Systems is the Solution to all the above concerns.
Followings are the advantages:
- Low Energy Consumption
- The AGT ( Aeroponics Grow Towers) offers high production per sq m of greenhouse/warehouse area
- The plant population can be increased to ten times+ as compared to prevalent horizontal hydroponics
- The cost per plant of climate control of greenhouse reduces due to high plant population.
- Due to vertically spaced grow towers, there is very good ventilation around the crop. Unlike in horizontal layered vertical grow system.
- The AGT offers a cooling tower effect, due to showers falling repeatedly from as high as 10 feet. This reduces the temperature of the Nutrigation water.
- Based on our experience and results obtained by various international agencies, we can say Aeroponics is most cost efficient in terms of quality, quantity and ease of growing.
- NASA has shortlisted this method of growing for their Mission on Mars
- The product grown under this system command premium in the market.
Compared to hydroponics, Aeroponics offers even more control over the root system, because you don’t even need to immerse the roots in any liquid. Aeroponics uses a small internal micro jet spray that sprays the roots containing nutrient rich solutions or a shower from top based on the temperature. Because the roots are exposed to more oxygen, the plant tends to grow faster. It is also easier to administer all sorts of nutrients to the plant, via the root system.
Aeration is critical to plant root health, without it plants respire anaerobically and generate ethylene, leading to cell death and root rot.
This systems allows us to grow various vegetables even on Warehouses, Greenhouses, Roof Tops Terraces, and uncultivable lands
The project capital costs are high as compared to the existing horizontal growing systems, but the ROI is very satisfactory.