Exhibition of low-cost agricultural technologies at CACCC 2019: Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a modern way of growing plants in special solutions. Translated from the Greek language, the term hydroponics literally means “working solution”. When grown hydroponically, the roots of the plant are not in the soil, but in a substrate, a substitute for the soil, which has no nutritional value, roughly speaking, the substrate simply creates support for the development of the root system. In addition, in hydroponics, the process of absorption of nutrients occurs faster, and additional oxygen stimulates a more rapid development of the root system. After all, the plant does not need to spend energy on the search for nutrients; they are served in an easily accessible form to the roots of the plant. Therefore, the plant uses the saved energy for development and growth. Also, when grown hydroponically, less water is used. What is especially important in the industrial cultivation of agricultural products, especially in conditions of climate change, drought or for countries with a lack of fresh water.

Purpose of technology: growing plants using nutrient solutions. Using this method, plants dispense with soil, are in the substrate, which serves as a support for the root system and receive the necessary nutrients from the solution. It for each plant, depending on the species, is selected individually. A great advantage of the technology is the ability to place it anywhere, up to the balcony, closet or other accessible area of ​​space. Among other advantages are water saving, the absence of diseases and plant pests for the usual soil cultivation.

The training video shot in the framework of the CAMP4ASB project at the Denis Ten`s eco-farm from the Almaty region of Kazakhstan shows samples of two hydroponic systems. The first is a closed cycle in which the nutrient solution is fed into trays for growing green mass from barley seeds, which, unlike seeds, is a more useful food for goats and sheep grown on the farm here. The second system is used to grow strawberries, in it, as in the first system, the solution is pumped automatically using pumps, temperature and light sensors help to control the process of growing plants. The hydroponic method can grow almost all types of plants, especially popular technology among gardeners for growing flowers and vegetables. As shown in the video, in order to assemble a hydroponic system with your own hands, you do not need to be a highly qualified engineer. The simplest model will consist only of a container for storing a mixture of water with nutrients, a compressor with a sprayer, pots for seedlings and an inert substrate such as expanded clay, mineral wool or coconut flakes. An ideal place to place a hydroponic installation is an enclosed space; a basement, a greenhouse or isolated rooms are well suited. Hydroponic systems should be located with sources of heat and light from the sun. To improve productivity, you can equip artificial lighting with fluorescent lamps. Hydroponics is not new. Its history begins from ancient times. For example, Hanging Gardens, which archaeological excavations of ancient Babylon tell us, which are one of the Seven Wonders of the World, were probably one of the first successful attempts to grow plants on artificial soils. Probably hydroponics also has a future, because in difficult climatic and environmental conditions, this particular technology will be able to offer sustainable solutions for food security of the population.

This publication is available in Russian