Aeroponics is a method of growing plants without the use of soil. The term “aeroponics” comes from the Greek words for air, “aer,” and labor, “ponos,” which together mean “working air.” In this system, plants are grown by suspending their roots in the air and spraying them with a nutrient-rich mist. This method is a subset of hydroponics, as water is used to transmit nutrients.
The origins of aeroponics can be traced back to academic studies of root growth in the 1920s. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that aeroponics became more widely recognized as a viable method of cultivation. This was largely due to the interest of The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in using aeroponics for growing food in soilless environments, such as in space.
The aeroponic system is unique in how it delivers nutrients and controls environmental conditions. The process is carried out in a closed environment where the grower has control over all aspects of the system. Plants are held in large vertical grow racks, and essential organic liquid nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, are added to a large water reservoir. These nutrients are then delivered directly to the root zone in the form of a mist. Indoor grow lights are optimized to promote plant growth, and the overall enclosure is kept within certain limits for both temperature and humidity.
Aeroponics offers several advantages over traditional farming methods. It uses 98% less land by utilizing vertical space, allows for year-round production, uses 95% less water, and is more efficient. The plants grown in these systems are known to grow up to three times faster than those in outdoor farms. Moreover, because the environment is closed, there is no need for herbicides or pesticides, resulting in a more organic product.
The use of aeroponics has been expanding in recent years, with companies like Living Greens Farm operating one of the largest indoor aeroponic farms in the United States. The company uses aeroponics to grow a variety of products, including salad greens, microgreens, and herbs.