A growing practice that involves hanging of plant roots in an environment of air and mist where they absorb water, oxygen and nutrients. An aeroponic grow system is more temperamental than other types of growing methods and requires constant and careful monitoring. In the first half of the 20th century, aeroponics evolved as a way to study plant roots, and many growers still consider aeroponics a viable way to grow cannabis.
Aeroponic systems feed plants with nothing more than a nutrient-laden mist. The concept is based on that of hydroponic systems, where the roots are kept in a soil-less growing medium, such as coconut fiber, over which nutrient-rich water is periodically pumped. Aeroponics simply detaches from the growing medium, leaving the roots suspended in the air, where they are periodically inflated by specially designed mist device.
In aeroponic systems, the seeds are “planted” in foam cubes that are placed in small pots, exposed to light at one end and nutrient spray at the other. The foam also keeps the stem and root mass in place as the plants grow.
Is aeroponics better than hydroponics?
Both aeroponics and hydroponics are methods of growing cannabis without soil. Some potential benefits of aeroponics over hydroponics are:
- Diseases spread faster with hydroponics because the roots share the water supply, while with aeroponics, the water supply is individual.
- The roots are better oxygenated in aeroponics because they float in the air.
- Because aeroponic nutrient uptake is better, these cannabis plants will yield higher yields than hydroponic plants.
- On the other hand, an aeroponic system is more expensive to start than a hydroponic system, so a grower must weigh all the pros and cons before starting a business.
What are the components that make up a properly functioning aeroponic system?
The design of an aeroponic system requires quite a few components for the healthy root growth of plants. Beneath, the plants only need light. A lot is happening below the surface, starting with the reservoir.
1. The reservoir
This is where all your water and nutrient solution is stored. It’s a closed-loop system, meaning anything the plants don’t absorb is dropped back into the reservoir to be re-sprayed until the plant roots absorb the water solution.
However, the plants are never submerged in water. They are suspended in the air using net vessels as culture chambers.
2. The repeat cycle timer
The repeat cycle timer is used to control the amount of water dispensed into the reservoir. If you examine the recommended cycle times, you will find that growers have success with a one-minute-on and five minutes off nebulizer cycle, and others have similar success with fogging for 15 seconds and then up to five minutes off.
There are no hard and fast rules about how often you set misting intervals. The most important thing is to set it; otherwise, the roots will get soggy.
3. Nutrient pump or water
Attached to the base of the reservoir is a water pump that is used to pump the water through the hoses to the mist nozzles.
4. The misting nozzles
Different aeroponic systems have a different number of mist nozzles used in the chamber. These are an important part of the setup, because the smaller the drop of water that is sprayed through the sprinkler, the better the plant roots can absorb it.
5. Growing chambers or net cups
Separating the plant roots from the plant canopies is done by a lid with precisely cut holes for the placement of net cups used as growing chambers. These cups are inserted through the lid and sealed with (usually) a Styrofoam collar that supports the stems and acts as a weir to keep the water in the reservoir.
What can be grown with aeroponics?
Everything, in practice, aeroponic systems are mainly used for the same applications as hydroponic systems, including leafy vegetables, culinary herbs, marijuana, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. An exception is root crops, which are not practical in a hydroponic system but are well suited for aeroponics as the roots have plenty of room to grow and are easily accessible for harvesting.
Other vegetable crops are possible but have more complex nutritional requirements. Shrubs and fruit trees are impractical in aeroponic systems due to their size.
How often do you water in aeroponic?
Water supply and humidity are possibly the most important factors in an aeroponic system. Because there is no soil and often no growing medium, the roots of the plant are very susceptible to drying out and die if the irrigation system fails.
Irrigation cycles for high-pressure aeroponics systems generally operate on a cycle of 15 seconds ON and 3 to 5 minutes OFF. This ensures that the room maintains high humidity and prevents the fine mist from merging into larger droplets.
Low-pressure systems use a timer of 5 minutes on and 12 minutes off. A longer cycle is allowed with a low-pressure system because it does not depend on the atomization of the water droplets. Instead, the roots are deeply saturated with water before being given a longer duration of oxygen to absorb nutrients.
How long to run a pump in an aeroponic system?
The standard irrigation strategy in an aeroponic system is to use a 1-5 timer; this is a timer that turns the pump on for one minute every five minutes. Unfortunately, the only other option would be to keep the pump running constantly.
What size of pump do I need for aeroponics?
The size of the pump you need for aeroponics is a high-pressure water pump; High-pressure aeroponics requires a PUMP that can produce enough to pressurize the water to produce the ideal droplet size of 20 to 50 microns. Thеѕе pumps аrе gеnеrаllу dіарhrаgm pumps оr rеvеrѕе оѕmоѕіѕ bооѕtеr pumps. The pump must have an 80 P.S.I. to your desired flow of nutrients.
How much does an aeroponic system cost?
DIY models can be made for under $ 100, but good quality professional systems with automated nutrient monitoring and a backup power supply start in the four-digit range ($ 1000 upward).
● Considerations for equipment
All aeroponic systems require housing to contain moisture and prevent light from reaching the roots (this is usually a plastic container with holes drilled for each plant), plus a separate tank to hold the nutrient solution. In addition to these basic components, there are a few other things to consider when designing an aeroponic system that meets your needs.
Some aeroponics systems are designed to be used horizontally, such as a traditional planting bed. But towers and other vertical approaches are gaining in popularity; since the roots need to spread; this is a smart way to save space. Vertical systems are also popular because nebulizers can be placed on top, allowing gravity to distribute moisture.
Another dichotomy in aeroponic equipment:
High-pressure vs. Low-pressure systems.
Lоw-рrеѕѕurе ѕуѕtеmѕ, whісh rеlу оn a ѕіmрlе fоuntаіn pump tо spray wаtеr thrоugh mіѕtеrѕ, аrе іnеxреnѕіvе аnd ѕuіtаblе fоr DIY construction. This approach is sometimes referred to as “soakaponics” because low-pressure sprayers can only produce a light mist, like a small sprinkler, and not an actual mist.
For a true mist, meaning moisture floats in the air and the nutrients are delivered more effectively to the roots, you need higher water pressure than a regular pump can provide. That’s why professional aeroponic systems are based on a pressurized water tank that can hold 60 to 80 psi, along with high-quality misters that can deliver the best moisture cloud possible.
Is aeroponics expensive?
Yes, most aeroponic systems are not exactly cheap. Aeroponic systems can cost many hundreds of dollars. One of the major drawbacks of aeroponic gardening is cost. These systems require advanced machinery and equipment to function, as well as constant monitoring and backup. Because the roots are fragile and exposed, aeroponics facilities need 24/7 operation to grow healthy plants.
What is the misting frequency of aeroponics for root growth?
True aeroponics uses a spray of nutrients on the roots of plants in a dark growing room. The range of nutrients and spraying will produce fast growth rates, high yields, and healthy roots, provided the root chamber is maintained at temperatures between 62 ° F and 71 ° F with good stability.
Some of the more complicated aeroponic systems are temperature controlled. The temperature is continuously monitored in the root zone of the plant. When the temperature exceeds the preset thresholds, the controller activates the misters to lower the temperature.
When moisture is lacking in the root zone of an aeroponic system, plants can age (premature aging, which can result in leaf loss) and allow less water to transpire. Proper misting at the right time prevents the roots from drying out.
What is the point to follow when using this method of misting?
- Remember, that there are not only 1 setpoints for the misting interval. The duration of the required nutritional mist is highly dependent on the plant, the growth phase of the plant, and especially the temperature of the root zone.
- Each/different growing environment requires different misting cycles. You have to experiment or depend on others with the same system and cultivation to achieve extreme growth. When adjusting misting times, do so slowly and gradually over a few days, never in a big step that could affect the plant. Turn the nebulizer ON for maybe three seconds and OFF for three minutes. Observe the reactions of the plant, make extensive notes, and note any changes, good or bad. Extend the fog period OFF, see what happens. Reduce the time spent and see what happens. Do this weekly. Watch for signs of root wilt or color change. Try to repeat this program weekly. Most plants start with an intense watering cycle during their initial growth and less towards the flowering or fruiting phase. It could end with 1 second of misting and 5 minutes without misting.
- Another advantage of an adjustable misting program is the ability to grow plants at all stages of their life. When propagating in an aeroponic system, freshly cut clones need to be constantly moist until roots develop. In the flowering phase, plants need an oxygen supply to the root system to maintain their healthy appearance.
- Be sure to keep a close eye on root development in the aeroponic chamber. Even mild dehydration of the root system leads to tissue damage and pathogenic diseases.
- You must use a high-quality sediment-free nutrient in the system for both daytime and night-time feeding. This is important to prevent the nozzles from getting clogged. Remember that in aeroponics, the PPM (EC or concentration) in the nutrient solution should be lower than any other soilless system. The root absorbs the nutrient much easier and faster in an aeroponic system.
What are the indoor plant lights needed for aeroponics?
To choose indoor lights that are right for your plants, you need to know how plants use light and what options you have.
The first grow light
Firstly, there was light, the eternal mighty sun. Some grow lights try to provide a light spectrum similar to that of the sun, or at least a spectrum that best suits the needs of the plants being grown. Natural sunlight provides different colors, temperatures, and spectra.
Depending on the type of plant being grown, the growth phase, and the photoperiod the plants require, aeroponically grown plants require a specific range of the light spectrum, light output, and color temperature. Not only this but also a light scheme for light and dark.
Grоw lіghtѕ uѕе electricity tо gеnеrаtе light аnd саn bе uѕеd fоr plant grоwth іn thrее dіffеrеnt wауѕ:
- Provide all the light a plant needs to grow.
- In addition to sunlight, especially in the winter months when daylight is short.
- Extend the length of the “day” to activate specific growth and flowering.
1. Plants need red light
Red light stimulates vegetative growth and flowering, but if a plant receives too much red light, it will grow tall and thin. Red light, at the other end of the spectrum, triggers a hormonal response that creates flowers.
2. Plants need blue light
Blue light regulates plant growth, making it ideal for growing low, robust foliage plants, and seedlings. Blue light, also known as cold light, encourages compact bushy growth.
3. An orange and reddish light
The grow lights that produce the orange and reddish light generally produce significant heat. However, some bulbs can produce full-spectrum light without heat.
4. The light spectra of different grow lights
Different stages of plant growth require different spectra. The initial vegetative phase requires a blue light spectrum, while the later “bloom phase” is generally promoted with red-orange spectra.
Do I need to turn off the light when I’m growing indoor aeroponics?
Yes, it doesn’t matter what kind of plants you grow indoors, you have to make sure to give them a break. When it is dark, plants breathe, which is an important part of their growing process. The balance between resting time and active growing time influences many biological processes, including growth rate and fruit and bud set.
In addition, many plants also require periods of light and dark, an effect is known as photoperiodism, to initiate flowering. Therefore, the lights can be turned on or off at certain times. The optimal photo or dark period ratio depends on the species and variety of plants, with some preferring long days and short nights, and others preferring the opposite or intermediate day length.
What are the pros and cons of aeroponics?
Who would say bare roots can survive? It turns out that removing the growing medium is very liberating for plant roots – the extra oxygen they are exposed to results in faster growth. Aeroponic systems are also extremely water efficient. These closed-loop systems use 95 percent less irrigation than soil-grown plants. And because the nutrients are stored in the water, they are also recycled.
In addition to this efficiency, the environmentally-friendly reputation of aeroponics is enhanced by the ability to grow large amounts of food in small spaces. The approach is mainly used in indoor vertical farms, which are increasingly common in cities, reducing the environmental cost of bringing food from the field to the plate. And because the aeroponics systems are completely closed, there is no nutrient runoff contaminating nearby waterways. Rather than treating pests and diseases with harsh chemicals, grow equipment can be easily sterilized when needed.
Aeroponic systems require a little bit of finesse to work effectively. The nutrient concentration of the water must be kept within precise parameters and even a minor failure of your equipment can lead to crop loss. If the misters don’t spray every few minutes, for example, because of a power outage, those drooping roots dry out quickly. And misters should be cleaned regularly to avoid blockage from mineral deposits in the water.
From an environmental standpoint, there is also a major drawback: Aeroponic systems rely on electric power to pump water through small misters. And while they can be used in natural greenhouse light, they are mostly used with energy-intensive grow lights. You can take advantage of solar energy or other alternative energy sources to eliminate this inconvenience.
How can I maintain my aeroponic system?
In the reservoir, you should pay the most attention to maintenance, but don’t neglect your grow space. Two words to remember to grow healthy crops with aeroponics are sterilized and sanitized.
Everything around your grow space should be clean, dust-free, and free of anything that can encourage bacterial growth. In cleaning, treat your grow room like your kitchen. If anything has spilled, wipe it up.
For your plant’s foliage, you will want to keep them healthy by cutting off dead leaves, maintaining the temperature, and ensuring the right amount of light reaches the plant’s foliage.
The most important area to stay sterile is your reservoir. You also have the irrigation system (the pipe that supplies the water) to keep it sterile so that there is no excess salt build-up that can clog the nozzles and reduce the efficiency of the system. For this, hydrogen peroxide is the best solution you can use to keep your reservoir sterile while it is in operation. Between crops, that’s another issue addressed with a cleaning discharge.
A cleaning flush involves complete sterilization of the system with bleach or similar cleaning agents. It’s best to use a scrub brush to make sure it gets into all cracks in the tank. Once you have thoroughly cleaned what you can, run the system with a diluted bleach solution so that the hoses and nozzles are sterilized as well.
When you have finished flushing, remove the chemicals you used to clean it by running the system with water only. Let the water wash away any lingering chemicals and let the oxygen do its part to dry everything out before using it again on your next grow.
While the reservoir is the most important area to maintain sterility, any equipment you use, such as pruning shears, should also be sterilized before using it on your plants. A single cut with dirty pruning shears can introduce pests or diseases to plants, such as using the same pruning shears on outdoor plants and then cutting one of your plants in your aeroponic system with the one before sterilizing them.
Maintaining your aeroponic system is easy when you know why you take every step you take. You keep your grow room clean and tidy (disinfected) to prevent pests from being sucked into the room or introducing pathogens into the air that can affect your system and plants. Sterilizing all areas of the reservoir and the tools you use to care for your plants is to be proactive rather than responding to plant diseases, common pests, or any virus.
Conclusion – how aeroponics work
While the plant’s physical growth process is the same as other forms of cultivation or hydroponics, aeroponics differs in the way nutrients and environmental conditions are provided and controlled. To make plants grow healthier, aeroponics is performed in a closed environment where the grower controls all aspects of the system.
Essential оrgаnіс liquid nutrіеntѕ, ѕuсh аѕ nitrogen, рhоѕрhоruѕ, аnd роtаѕѕіum, аrе аddеd tо a lаrgе wаtеr rеѕеrvоіr. These organic nutrients in pure form are more easily digested by plants, making absorption faster and easier. Plants do not need to search for food as this nutrient-rich mist is directed directly to the root zone.
Indооr grоw lіghtѕ аrе optimized tо fаll wіthіn сеrtаіn wаvеlеngthѕ tо furthеr рrоmоtе plant grоwth. The general housing is kept within certain limits of both temperature and humidity.
This system maximizes nutrient uptake while putting less strain on the plant, leading to products that are generally healthier. Plants grown by aeroponics contain a higher nutritional value and at the same time have better color, texture, and taste.