Wageningen University and Research (NL) and the aeroponic technology specialists LettUs Grow (UK) are collaborating to compare ultrasonic aeroponic and hydroponic irrigation systems in side-by-side trails. The trials aim to boost the understanding of aeroponics in the available academic literature to encourage innovative agricultural practices in the future.
The Netherlands’ embrace of the Quadruple Helix Model of innovation (investing in and connecting science, policy, industry, and society) has enabled it to become a global leader in sustainable agriculture - Wageningen is an exemplar of this. Now, despite its small size, the country is a key agricultural player and the second-largest exporter of agricultural goods.
Hydroponics is a method of soil-less growing, where plant roots are supplied with a nutrient solution in intervals or constantly growing in nutrient solution, whereas in aeroponics, plant roots are irrigated with a fine mist of water and nutrients. Ultrasonic aeroponics uses high-frequency sound waves that shake water and nutrients until they disperse into lots of tiny droplets, like a mist.
The ultrasonic aeroponic system, which has been supplied by LettUs Grow, will be trailed alongside two other hydroponic systems, ebb and flow and deep water culture, in a greenhouse environment. The research will be conducted at Wageningen’s campus greenhouse facilities over a five-month period.
The trials will compare the crop growth, development, and quality of basil in greenhouse cultivation, while also potentially exploring the energy costs associated with each of the three irrigation systems. Researchers will gather data on the following:
- growth rate
- nutritional content
- shelf life
- plant physiological characteristics
- the effects of seasonality
- energy consumption.
This is a research collaboration rather than an outsourced trial, so LettUs Grow will be actively involved in the trial.
Jack Farmer, Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of LettUs Grow said: “It is a core value for us that everything we do and promote is rooted in good science, so it’s really gratifying as a UK technology company within the CEA sector to be collaborating with the leading academics in the space. We’re pleased to have the opportunity to build relationships with Dutch horticulture, which we recognize as world-leading and a cornerstone of the industry.”
Prof. Leo Marcelis, Professor of Horticulture and Product Physiology at Wageningen University, will be leading the trials together with Dr. Katharina Huntenburg. Marcelis said: “We are happy to conduct this research in cooperation with Lettus Grow, addressing an important question with respect to optimizing growth and quality relevant for greenhouse and vertical farm production systems.”
For more information:
Wageningen University & Research