What is Aeroponics?
Are you looking for alternative ways of growing plants? I have always loved gardening, but due to lack of space had to restrict my choices.
One day, I met a person who was using aeroponics to grow plants. It was exciting, and I started to research more about it. I soon realized that aeroponics is one of the types of hydroponic systems.
It works on a simple concept, though it is probably more technical than the other methods. I have been tinkering around with high-pressure aeroponic systems for a long time and have achieved excellent results.
It is probably the best way to grow plants without soil. Plants are not contained or rooted in any solid material.
The plants’ roots hung in the air in an enclosed chamber and sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution or high-pressure mist.
You can say that, instead of plants searching for nutrients in the soil, here, the nutrients are being delivered to the plants! The plants grow faster because they absorb the nutrients better.
If you are keen on learning how to build a high pressure aeroponics system, then this article can help you and offer step by step, easy to follow the process.
- What is Aeroponics?
- Types of Aeroponic Systems
- Working of A High Pressure Aeroponic System
- What Do You Need to Build High Pressure Aeroponics System?
- Steps for Building High Pressure Aeroponic System
- Some Pros and Cons Of High Pressure Aeroponic System
- Choose the Location Carefully
- Importance of The Nutrient Solution
Types of Aeroponic Systems
There are two types of aeroponic systems
Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA)
LPA is the most commonly used system because of the ease of setting it up and availability. It does not cost as much as an HPA system.
The system has a standard pump combined with some tubes and sprinklers. The water comes out as reasonably large droplets which cover the plant roots.
LPA systems generally run continuously throughout the day and keep the roots always wet. This system works well and is easy to build.
High Pressure Aeroponics (HPA)
HPA is more complex and requires more components than the LPA system. You will need a strong pump and a good accumulator tank apart from nozzles, switches, etc.,
Buying good quality parts will ensure better results. HPA produces very fine mist, and that is because of the pressure. The roots can absorb more of the water & nutrient solution and faster because of the micro size.
Working of A High Pressure Aeroponic System
You must remember this process does not require soil and any other solid material for the plant to grow into. In aeroponics, plants are inserted through the holes on a platform and hang in the air.
The whole plants or plants are inside a sealed chamber. But remember plants’ support collars have to be strong enough to hold the plants yet have enough flexibility to allow the roots to grow freely.
High-pressure aeroponics system uses a durable pump to create vapor or atomized mist, a mixture of water, nutrients, and supplements.
This mist is sprayed into the part of the chamber, which has the hanging roots. It provides a precise amount of this solution to the plant for its growth. The timer ensures that spraying takes place at the exact time and duration.
The secret to successful high-pressure aeroponics will depend on the right amount of oxygen and other nutrients reaching the plant via the roots.
What Do You Need to Build High Pressure Aeroponics System?
Are you ready to set up an HPA system? We can trace the design of HPA to the 1970s. However, it was only in the 1990s that NASA made it famous by proclaiming it an efficient way to grow plants in the space.
It is a simple yet effective way to grow plants without soil. You will be able to grow healthier plants with this system. I have tried growing different types of plants and find them equally suited to vegetables and other plants.
If you are ready to take the plunge, it is time to collect everything you need and understand the process fully.
Here is a list of things that you can procure easily from any local gardening store or even online. You can watch this video to understand different component functions.
- Growing chamber: you should get an airtight and light-proof container. Only air should reach the roots and not pests or insects. Water should not spill out, and humidity should remain inside.
- Container for Nutrient Solution: this is an essential component of any HPA system. These containers or tanks are pre-pressurized and prevent the pump from overheating and overworking. They generally have two compartments and regulate the pressure.
- Pump: the pump is the heart of any HPA system. It has to produce the right size of droplets and at the correct pressure. The pump has to produce 80 psi regularly, so you should buy the right quality pump.
- Spray Nozzles: pump sends the water to the nozzles in a highly pressurized way. The atomization of water occurs because of the high pressure and small nozzles. Choose the mist nozzles carefully because high pressure can even damage the roots if it is directed at one point. Keep the nozzles clean and prevent clogging by using a mesh filter.
- Solenoid: this is the coil of wire used to stop and start the water flow as per the timer settings. This is an electrically operated valve and works as an automatic lawn sprinkler.
- Pressure Switch: it tells the pump when and at what pressure to turn on and off. Some pumps come with this control switch, while for some, you will have to purchase separately. It is best to set the pressure on at 80 psi and off at 100 psi.
- Tubes: you need rubber or PVC tubes to take the water from the nutrient pump to the spray nozzles.
- Baskets/Platform: you need the right kind of baskets or any other platform with the right type of support for hanging the plants.
- Timer: either an inbuilt timer or one bought separately is a must. It will accurately turn on and off the pump.
Apart from these things, you should ensure that you choose a convenient location for you to manage. There should be room around the chamber for you to move freely.
Steps for Building High Pressure Aeroponic System
Have you collected all the items listed here? Now, follow these steps to build your little garden without any hassle.
The first step to do is to decide how much of the HPA system you are planning to build. You can get readymade containers and chambers, or you can choose to build it.
You can use different materials like wood, plywood, or plastic containers lying around the house. The size will depend on the type and number of plants.
It should have enough depth for the roots to hang and grow freely. There should be enough space for oxygen and CO2 to circulate.
Depending on the material and weather, you can line the box with some insulating material like a plastic sheet or Styrofoam.
Next would be to install the spray nozzles. The number of nozzles will depend on the number of plants and how you have placed them.
If you position the plants in a row, you will need a metal or PVC pipe running through the length with equidistant nozzles. However, if you stack the plants together in a circular formation, you can place central nozzles. You can use couplings for installing nozzles.
Now comes the most crucial part where you put all the components together. The basic working of any system will be as follows.
The nutrient in the accumulator tank gets sucked into the pump, and then through the tubes goes to the spray nozzles.
However, the working may differ from system to system depending on the type of kit, plants, and quality of components. Having a switch for pressure and timer will add to the accuracy.
Once you build the setup, test it thoroughly while checking the pressure and droplet size. A pressure of 80 psi is a minimum requirement for the mist to form.
Buy nozzles which have a conical shape so that mist spreads evenly. The timer controls both the supply and pressure of the nutrients. Once you are satisfied with the working, ensure that you fix it firmly in an ideal and suitable location.
Things to Remember
- Some essential things that you should keep in mind when you take on this project are your capabilities, money, time, and the plants you want to grow.
- It is better to start small. As a beginner, you will be experimenting and learning, so don’t invest too much money initially.
- Always buy the right quality components.
- There are many kits available, and you can choose to ultimately build or assemble readymade kits depending on your skill level.
Some Pros and Cons Of High Pressure Aeroponic System
The best benefit of an aeroponic system is the higher yield and faster growth of plants. However, there are a few drawbacks as well, though the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
- This system uses almost 90 % less water than conventional growing systems
- You will require only about 1/3 rd of the nutrients in this method
- Faster plant growth because roots are regularly exposed to oxygen
- Higher yields and more harvest cycles possible
- No growing medium so you don’t spend money on soil, and roots absorb all nutrition
- By sterilizing the mist, you can prevent plant diseases
- Easy to move the plants from one collar to another.
- You don’t need much space. With a modular system, it is easy to maximize the use of small spaces
- Quite easy to replace old plants with new ones
- A great educational tool for kids to teach them about plants without getting them dirty
- The initial investment for buying different components
- Close monitoring and frequent maintenance is necessary
- Even a short failure can lead to a loss of the whole crop
- Technical knowhow of the system is essential and could be difficult for beginners
- Any power outages can cause a problem
- You will have to disinfect the chamber to prevent root disease regularly
Watching a plant grow brings immense joy, and with aeroponics, you get to experience an alternate method of growing plants.
You may have to learn and research a bit, but the pleasure of building your high-pressure aeroponic system will be immense.
Choose the Location Carefully
You must consider the placement of the system carefully otherwise it can hinder the growth of plants.
- Light: if you can get natural light for about 8 hours, it will be perfect. Depending on the plant variety, you may need more or less light. You can add artificial lights if natural light is not enough.
- Water: use distilled water as far as possible. As you will be adding nutrients to the water, you don’t want any contaminants.
- Air: air movement is crucial. Stagnant air can be harmful to a plant’s growth.
- Health & Hygiene: disinfect all the components before setting up the system. Keep the plants and the system in a safe area. Keep an eye on the roots for any signs of pests and use natural insecticides as far as possible.
- Temperature: plants don’t grow well at lower temperatures. A range between 70 degrees and 85 degrees is ideal for most plants.
- Moisture: you have to be careful while setting the timer for spraying interval and duration. Different plants have different needs at each stage of their growth. Excess and less moisture, both are harmful.
Importance of The Nutrient Solution
Do you think water is just water? Well, it is not! If you travel frequently, you would have noticed how water tastes and feels differently in every new place.
Just like us, plants also thrive with an ideal water solution. Here are some pointers for you
- This system uses very less water and nutrients, so use good quality water only
- Hard water is not suitable for plants. It has calcium carbonate in high quantity which is difficult for plants to process
- You must check the mineral concentration in the water as well check for good and bad minerals
- The right pH level is essential. Most plants grow well between 6 and 7 pH levels. Buy nutrients which will help keep the pH level in this range
- Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen are already present in the air and water. Apart from these, it would be best if you had phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium, zinc, boron, manganese, etc. for a healthy plant.
Does all this information seem a bit overwhelming to you? I can understand because I was once in your position. Initially, it may seem complicated, but if you follow all directions, in no time, you will be reaping the benefits, literally!
When I started, it wasn’t easy to find the right information and high-quality components, but now both are available easily. It may seem too technical initially, but once you understand the working, rest is about joining the various tubes and connecting everything properly.
With experience, you can make the system thoroughly self- monitor itself. Depending on how technical you want to get, you can also collect a lot of data about light, humidity, moisture, etc. to ensure better plant health and faster yield.
By deciding to build a high-pressure aeroponic system, you have taken a significant first step. I am sure that after reading this, you are in a better position to take the next step.
Feel free to contact us if you have any doubts or questions. We are happy to receive any feedback and ready to help in any way we can. Build the HPA system and watch your little garden take off.