Solving the various constraints in the agriculture industry demands invention and implementation of new methods that can maximize the production and minimize the costs.
This article will compare the primary method of spinach cultivation: geoponic or traditional method of cultivation of spinach with the relatively new: hydroponic (soil-less) method of cultivation of spinach.
Researchers in Pakistan have carried out this experiment which finds that in accordance to the relative water use, productivity of the hydroponic spinach crop was 97.42%. Moreover, the growth efficiency of the hydroponic crop was much higher than the geoponic crop: approximately, the leaf was 24% bigger, height was 25% higher, and steam scale was 24% greater. Hence, the research has shown that hydroponic system leads to approximately 25% greater crop yields than traditional geoponic methods.
The emphasis of this research is that it not only saves a huge amount of water and fertilizers, but also increases the crop yield. Moreover, Internet of Things (IoT) can be utilized with the hydroponic models to further increase yield.
The Hydroponic Model:
Before cultivating the seed in the hydroponic system, the seed was grown in a seedling tray. To prepare the hydroponic model, local materials were used to develop a cheap model which approximately costs around PKR 10,000.
The first thing any hydroponic model needs is a reservoir which will store all the nutrients and ingredients for the system. This is usually made from a Styrofoam raft at top which holds net cups and aeration stone at the bottom to provide oxygen to the system.
In the research, measured distilled water was filled into the water tank so that the gap between net pots and water remains optimal. A porous air stone is placed at the bottom of the tank with silicon so that oxygen is received from the pump and can dissolve the solution in it. Aluminum foil should be added on the top as it prevents sudden temperature changes and growth of organism like algae.
There are designed net pots available for hydroponic systems. They have a space in the bottom so that roots can go to the nutrient solution and also allow for air to travel from the cup to root area.
For each plant to grow at an optimal level, there is a need for sunlight. However, as there is reduced sunlight to Hydroponic systems. There is a replacement such as Full-Spectrum Light-emitting diode (LED) with IP65 waterproofing. The light is attached to a plastic pipe which stand along with a timer system to monitor the LED light.
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