Growing plants and produce out of the ground is so last 12,00 years ago (1), but you know what’s environmentally friendly, efficient, and results in high-quality vegetation? The utilization of aeroponics!
Now wait a second, what exactly does this process consist of?
To put it simply, aeroponics is “growing without Earth” (2). This is attainable (and actually very beneficial) because it consists of a gardening practice where plants are grown and nourished as their root structures are suspended in air and regularly sprayed with a water solution (3). A key component of how this system is so beneficial to the environment are the types of nutrients being incorporated into the plants’ routine.
When common elements such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium are missing, the effects can be extremely hazardous to the growth of plants. For instance, a deficiency of potassium in the nutrient solution can result in the leaves turning yellow with scattered dark spots, followed by tissue death or a stunt in the plant’s growth and all foliage becoming yellow and curled (4).
After many years of research, aeroponic horticulturists have proven the benefits of using aeroponic farming and provide notable reasoning behind it. One of which was an experiment administered on Asian beans by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Their experiment illustrated how aeroponics reduces the usage of water by 98% (5) and plants can grow up to three times faster in zero gravity aeroponic systems (3). Their research consisted of seedlings being suspended in the air in closed frames while their leafy tips and roots were allowed to grow up and down, respectively. Enclosure of the roots aided in the efficiency of the plants’ growth because it allowed for the nutrient-water mix to be used more since the solution can easily travel to other areas that the plant may not reach in traditional farming methods.
Now I know some may read this article and think “NASA?! There’s no way I can repeat what they tested in my own home! The materials they used might be too high-tech.” But as a matter of fact, a detailed description of similar procedures that they and many other scientists/ horticulturists use to grow their vegetation can be found here.
So after clicking the link above (this is your cue to click on it if you haven’t already!), you’ve seen one form of farming through aeroponics, but the fun doesn’t stop there. From growing vertically or horizontally to being inside buckets, vegetation can grow prosperously as a result of the versatile nature of aeroponics.
Creativity is certainly a notable factor of aeroponic farming, but another principal trend that should be taken into account is the implementation of pumps. They can automatically keep plants nourished without constant supervision as long as the system is sealed. Pumps allow for a substantial amount of nutrient mist to be consistently transported to the roots when necessary so an abundance of water is able to be conserved as well.
Ok, wait a second. Maybe I hyped it up a bit too much– is aeroponics really such a big deal? Do we really need to have amazing produce, be efficient, and only utilize our resources when they’re very necessary? YES!
A myriad of factors contribute to the urgent need of aeroponics and sustainability, but what is at the very root of the problem? Us. Our total population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in nearly a decade (6), and rather than focusing on using our land in a resourceful manner, many choose to constantly urbanize towns without integrating projects that conserve and/or increase our resources. Consequently, there are a multitude of perilous results that are close to taking numerous lives. One alarming example is how malnutrition has affected approximately 151 million children suffering from stunted growth and has taken nearly 3 million children alone (7). Aeroponics is certainly a major key to decreasing these statistics, but it takes more than one horticulturist to accomplish this goal. It’s time for each of us to take action through aeroponics, whether it’s in the form of growing a vast farm or just planting a few crops— every seed matters.
- The Growing Revolution. National Geographic.
- Clark, Josh. How Aeroponics Works. How Stuff Work.
- Aeroponics. Maximum Yield.
- Dr. Morgan, Lynette. Nutrients Too Much or Too Little. Simply Hydro.
- Progressive Plant Growing Has Business Blooming. NASA.
- World Population Projected to Reach 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100. United Nations. June 21, 2017.
- Levels and Trends in Child Malnutrition. UNICEF / WHO / World Bank Group Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates.