Growing crops without the use of soil is not the work of science fiction, but a process that may play a key role in helping the world meet its food supply.
Dr. Bipul Biswas, an assistant professor of plant science at the Fort Valley State University, is using hydroponics to grow plants and produce in a greenhouse on campus. Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants in a nutrient solution instead of water or soil which requires less labor.
Some of the produce grown on campus using hydroponics include romaine lettuce, red sail lettuce, stevia, bok choy, strawberries and bell peppers.
Biswas said farmers and urban growers can benefit from the use of hydroponics because growing crops and vegetables in soil requires lots of water and labor such as cleaning weeds and managing pests. Other factors reduced when using hydroponics, include weather damage to crops and plant soil borne bacterial contamination.
“Crops grown in a controlled environment using hydroponic systems (methods such as nutrient film techniques, vertical gardens or aero flow) can be grown year-round, and it is faster than soil. This means higher production and more income for farmers and growers,” Biswas said.
The FVSU scientist added that the limited space needed in hydroponics allows urban growers to raise crops in small or limited spaces such as apartments, basements, or designated rooms in a dwelling.
Biswas said he’s achieved positive results growing plants hydroponically on campus.
“Crops grow much faster using hydroponics than in soil. Yields are better and the crops are high quality and clean. There are no weed problems and they come with no soil borne microbes which minimizes health risks,” Biswas said.
Sodexo Inc., the official food caterer for FVSU’s student and faculty cafeterias, approached Biswas about supplying hydroponically grown vegetables exclusively for the Georgia Room restaurant on campus. Biswas said the company is impressed with the vegetables grown hydroponically. Negotiations are in progress to complete distribution arrangements.
For more information about hydroponics, contact Biswas at (478) 825-6827 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.