Aeroponics farming in Nigeria is one of the biggest innovation of modern farming techniques changing the face of agriculture, solving the problems of lack of land and adequate fertile land to carry out agricultural activities. The degradation of land in Nigeria is part of the factors that brought Aeroponics farming in Nigeria to the limelight.
Aeroponics– Aero (Latin word) means air. It simply means the medium of growing crops in the Air, without the use of soil or an aggregate medium.
Aeroponics farming offers an efficient means to grow plants, including fruits and vegetables, without plotting and replotting the land to replenish access to nutrient-rich soil.
Mr. Samson Ogbole of PS NUTRAC and Mr. Onasanya Abiola Lawrence of YIIFSWA, IITA (Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa) have worked extensively on crops using hydroponics and Aeroponics. (soilless farming). In our subsequent posts, they will be available for interview to enlighten the populace more on hydroponics and Aeroponics farming in Nigeria.
How does Aeroponics work?
The concept of Aeroponics farming is quite simple. Plants are suspended in the air in enclosed frames that leave the leafy tips and the roots able to grow up and down respectively. Many Aeroponic farming systems look very similar to traditional potted plant systems, with the key difference being that the containers for the plants are sealed around the plants’ bases and have a closed environment for the root systems.
Instead of relying on a mixture of soil and water to feed the plants, Aeroponic horticulturists spray the root systems with a nutrient mix(the nutrients the plant needs to grow are all embedded in the nutrient Solution and being misted on the roots of the plants i.e being given to the plants, without them searching for the nutrients unlike the soil where plants roots searches for nutrient and may not get all the nutrients needed unless some fertilizers are added). Because the roots are enclosed, the nutrient-water mix is used more efficiently by the plants and less water is needed for them to grow and thrive.
Depending on the Aeroponic system, nutrients may be sprayed manually at intervals throughout the day and night, but most Aeroponic systems have one or more pumps (a pump works at a time while the other is on standby) that automatically keep plants nourished without constant supervision. As long as the system is sealed and nutrient mist is consistently pumped to the roots, plants should thrive in an Aeroponic environment.
Benefits of Aeroponics
1. Clean/pure seeds are gotten from the Aeroponics system
2. The cost to set up an Aeroponics farming system is a one-time cost.
3. There is no weeding involved.
4. There is reduced fungicide, insecticide, while there is no use of herbicide at all.
5. It is an automated system.
6. It is not by any means weather dependent.
7. It actually brings about healthier produce and any type of crop can be planted.
8. There is faster growth due to good aeration.
9. It allows you to plant anywhere, even indoors.
10. There is no dirt associated with it.
11. The system is economically viable.
12. The system allows you to plant vertically as you can also plant upwards in space – thus, space maximization.
13. There is 98% reduced use of water and fertilizer since they are recycled.
14. Aeroponics gives room for all year round planting
15. It does not give room for pest and diseases because it is in a controlled environment(Screen house)
How to set up an Aeroponics system
Below are the things you need to set up an Aeroponics farming system.
• Container to hold the nutrient solution (a reservoir).
• Submersible fountain/pond pump.
• Tubing to distribute water from the reservoir pump to the mister heads in the growing chamber.
• Enclosed growing chamber for the root zone.
• Mister/sprinkler heads.
• Watertight container for the growing chamber where the plant’s root systems will be.
• Tubing to return the excess nutrient solution back to the reservoir.
• Timer (preferably a cycle timer) to turn on and off the pump.
Best plants for Aeroponics
Almost all crops can be grown with the Aeroponics farming system. But leafy vegetables and some tuber crops do very well in the Aeroponics. Below are some of the crops suited for Aeroponics farming in Nigeria:
Aeroponics farming in Nigeria will ensure maximum food security in years to come, it will also help in diversifying the economy and increase revenue through exportation of agricultural produce. Aeroponics farming is very beneficial because it ensures plants can be grown any time and anywhere in the country irrespective of the weather and soil type.
Watch Out for an explosive interview with YIIFSWA II Research Supervisor (Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security in West Africa) unit of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture Ibadan. (IITA).