Using the wrong growing medium can have a devastating effect on production, including stunting and even killing the plant.
In hydroponics, a growing medium is used.
What is hydroponics?
It refers to the material where plants develop their roots and grow at ground level or in a container.
According to an indoor herbs and garden website“The growing medium regulates watering, aeration and nutrient uptake in plants.”
“There are dozens of different growing media that can be used alone or in combination. The best growing medium must match the water and nutrient needs of the plant.”
The new study from the City of Tshwane Agriculture, the Rural Development Division, the Agricultural Research Council’s Biometry Unit and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) will examine whether reusing these materials will lower agricultural costs.
In the three-year log experiment using hydroponically grown tomatoes, researchers are also investigating whether the reused growing medium maintains crop growth, yield and quality.
“Due to the ever-increasing cost of growing media, hydroponic farmers are eventually reverting to conventional farming practices,” said Katlego Mathebe, Environmental and Agriculture Organization of Tshwane City.
“Reusing growing media would encourage continued and sustainable farming practices on hydroponics,” Mathebe said.
The research project involves farmers, experiential training students, and agricultural consultants as part of executing the project.
The research initiative is funded by the Gauteng Ministry of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and is located on the Agri-parks Rooiwal and Soshanguve, with an expected completion date of March 2023.
“With this project, two students who follow an experiential training will be able to complete their studies.
“Farmers, researchers and agricultural consultants gain the knowledge and understanding of the effects of reusing growing media,” says Mathebe.
It will also strengthen the skills in tomato hydroponic production, maximizing profits and reducing production costs.
This will ultimately contribute to sustainable practices, better income generation, more employment and greater food security.