Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has successfully developed a low cost indigenous greenhouse substrate hydroponics technology (soilless vegetable raising) for higher vegetable yield and lower water and nutrient consumption.
The technology has been developed using recirculation system on the pattern of the United States and European countries. Balwinder Singh, director of research, PAU, inaugurated the technology on Wednesday in the research field of the department of mechanical engineering. VP Sethi, head, department of mechanical engineering, PAU, has been instrumental in designing and developing the technology under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) project.
Sethi said the technology had been developed with two years of continuous efforts and experimentation. In this method, plants were grown in suitable size pots (two plants per pot) filled with porous root media, having properties similar to soil. A balanced solution of water and nutrients is premixed in a dossier system and pumped to each plant intermittently in a controlled manner, thereby, enhancing the crop yield several times in much lesser space as compared to conventional soil based greenhouse or polyhouse cultivation.
“Most importantly, use of this technology significantly lowers the cost of pesticides and nutrients apart from limiting the use of water (saves about 90% water),” he said. The main feature of the soilless technology was that it eliminated the problems of all soil-borne pathogens, he said.
At present, cucumber, tomato and capsicum crops, which have attained fruiting stage in less than six-week time after transplanting, are being tested under this technology.
PS Chahal, deputy director of research, said PAU would soon develop its own low cost crop specific nutrients. He said vegetable experts should prepare year round crop rotations to be grown under this technology, thus, making it affordable to the marginal farmers.