University of Agricultural Sciences-Bengaluru, which has set up the State’s biggest multi-model hydroponics unit, is set to popularise this method of soilless cultivation in a big way through training programmes. It will launch free training courses in various hydroponics models for the general public from December.
The varsity, that has been focusing on various models of hydroponics for the last year through a project, has set up an one-acre hydroponics unit with eight different models. Though a few private firms have managed to set up even bigger hydroponics units, this is said to be the biggest in terms of multi-models.
Under the hydroponics method, there is no need for soil, but water and plant nutrients have to be given to plants in accurate proportions. This system is on display at the ongoing Krishi Mela.
Nagaraj Hullur, research associate from UAS-B, said the university is mainly proposing all the models of hydroponics for those in urban and peri-urban areas. “This is mainly for those who have lesser quantum of land, but are ready to take up intensive cultivation,” he said, while pointing out that it is possible to get more yield through hydroponics if one adopts a vertical farming method within polyhouses.
However, the initial investment as well as maintenance costs for this kind of cultivation are much higher than the conventional cultivation methods. But Mr. Nagaraj says is possible to recover the entire investment in about four years as the yields would be higher.
On terrace, in gardens
The university is also set to develop its own model structures and methods for those who want to take up urban horticulture like terrace farming or cultivation in the porticos of apartments basically to grow vegetables and greens. “We are promoting cultivation of high-value vegetables including leafy vegetables under the hydroponics method,” Mr. Nagaraj said.
One of the models being promoted by the university is aquaponics in which fish rearing would be taken up in a tank along with hydroponics. The excreta from the fish tank would pass through the hydroponics structure and act as nutrient for plants. The aquaponics method is being promoted as organic, as no chemicals like fertilisers or pesticides would be used. Leafy vegetables are being promoted under this method.
Another model which is on display is Dutch Bucket System where in nutrients would be supplied to each plant through drip irrigation system. Cultivation of vegetables like tomato, pumpkin, beans, cucumber, broccoli, bottle gourd and capsicum is being promoted under this method. It is also experimenting with cultivation of dragon fruit.