Andhra Pradesh

Growing custom-made crop sans soil, now possible!

SVU botany head Sudarsanam Gudivada showing the plants grown using hydroponics technology at the lab in Tirupati.

SVU botany head Sudarsanam Gudivada showing the plants grown using hydroponics technology at the lab in Tirupati.  

SVU offers hydroponics course to not just students, but also to farmers

Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil in a controlled environment, is receiving better patronage as Sri Venkateswara University’s(SVU) Department of Botany has embarked on a mission to train students and farmers the nuances of this emerging technology.

The huge glass house built four decades back, now lying unused, is the hydroponics lab. Here, not just common vegetables like lettuce, coriander, mint, cucumber, tomato, capsicum and beans are grown, but even higher varieties like redsanders, bamboo and ferns are grown using just water.

The process

In a conversation with The Hindu, SVU botany department head Sudarsanam Gudivada said, “Generally, soil is both the holding medium and a supplier of essential minerals for a plant. In hydroponics process, we replace soil with inert media like clay balls, pebbles, sponge, rock wool, coco peat or perlite. For nutrient supply, the germinated plants are typically grown in small cups with porous bottom, inserted in a long pipeline made of food grade plastic. The continuous flow of nutrient-enriched water touching the plants ensures constant supply of oxygen to the roots, as well as minerals to the plant.”

Looking beyond classroom

Launched in 2017, the Hydroponics course covering soil-less culture, plant nutrition and nutrient solutions, is offered as an open elective, which is of interest to microbiology, chemistry, virology and home science students. “We are also extending the training programme to homemakers and youth in setting up kitchen, balcony and rooftop gardens,” Prof. Sudarsanam added.

Consultancy services are also provided to large farmers interested in replicating the technology. Evincing interest, the Chattisgarh government has recently requested Prof. Sudarsanam to conduct training for its farmers.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 9:53:01 PM |

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