First of all lets define what we do. Most people have heard of Hydroponics but Aeroponics are a less common in the general market; hydroponic is defined as plants grown in an inert medium, fed with a nutrient solution. Aeroponic is media-less growing, in most instances the plants are placed so that the roots protrude into a chamber where a mist of nutrient solution is intermittently circulated through the roots to feed the plants.
We spent some time studying these systems and found that the ones that flood and drain give great results but are prone to clogging after a while. The more we looked, it was clear that the increased oxygen at the root from the constant flooding and draining gave a better result, just as well tilled soil does compared to compressed soil.
The extra oxygen at the root zone makes the aeroponic method much more efficient by enabling the plant to form its oils and sugars more efficiently, these are the building blocks for the plants and also where the flavour comes from, thus faster growth, larger yields and great quality, tasty produce.
We looked at ways to maximise oxygen at the root and found even better results in terms of growth speed, yields and flavour and sheer quality of the produce using an aeroponic method.
As a soilless system, Aponic Aeroponic Farms mitigate all soil based pathogens, there are never any weeds to be sprayed off and the content of the nutrient can be adjusted to provide the optimum growing conditions for crops from anywhere in the world without having to steam sterilise soil, plough or harrow. The planting can be automated, as can the harvesting, this allows the food to be grown just yards away from where it is sold or consumed, saving millions of food miles too.
Being vertical, it saves space by turning your acreage into volume and is applicable for urban farming as well as rural applications. It can be sited on poor soil, contaminated land or concrete to make food production possible on cheap land unfit for anything else.
Farmers looking to utilise previously unusable land and buildings are able to grow low input, high value crops all year around with less labour costs and easily sourced, local workforce who are working in clean conditions, standing up.
Aeroponics is a disruptive technology that can completely transform UK production. Aeroponic production transfers water and nutrient to plants with a spray or mist environment around the roots removing the need for soil or large quantities of water. The technology has been used in small scale production capable of kilograms of supply since the 1980’s (NASA, 2006) but more recently largescale facilities built in the UK are capable of several tons of production per annum.
It has advantages over other systems in than it requires virtually no chemical control of pests and disease and there are no weeds present; it uses around 10% of the water of conventional production and far less energy, so much so that it can be run from solar power and a 12v supply.
The plant material requires minimal or no washing, thereby saving water use post-harvest. As a result, there is a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of production in line with the Government’s Decarbonisation Strategy (2021).
However, these facilities are not optimised and are estimated to be working at only around 40% efficiency, so that the benefits could be even greater.
Aponic Ltd Unit 22 Crestland Business Park, Bull Lane Industrial Estate, Acton, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 0BD