Hydroponic farming —growing plants in micro nutrients enrich-water solution instead of soil — is fast catching the attention of farmers struggling with shrinking land and water resources.
Scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s lab- Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT), Palampur have come forward to arm the farmers with the technical know on plant propagation in hydroponic and aeroponic system, that is also being termed as a game changer technology.
IHBT Director Sanjay Kumar said that as majority of the rural regions in India is experiencing population shift in recent years due to animal menace and poor returns from traditional farming system, it is high time our youth adopt new techniques of agriculture like hydroponics and aeroponics.
In this regard, the scientists from the IHBT have been conducting training program on this farming technique from time to time, the recent being early this month wherein farmers, unemployed youth, students from Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Gujrat attended the four-day training workshop.
Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants without soil by using water solvent which consists of mineral nutrient whereas aeroponic is the technique of growing plants in air without soil and using external nutrients. These techniques provide higher yield and economic returns compared to traditional agricultural practices, because of increase in harvest cycles and balanced nutrient supply.
Kumar added that such farming systems are the need of hour given that arable land per person is projected to decrease by 2050 to one-third of the amount available in 1970. Also, the plant’s grown like this consume only 10 per cent of the water used in the field and thus saves water.
“The interested farmers can start startups for the production of nutrient enriched spice, herbal and high value crops which has huge demand in the urban market. But before venturing into such new arena, they need to have technical knowledge about it,” he said.
Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Programme coordinator at the IHBT added : These eco-friendly techniques can be practiced in smaller space and are successful in advanced countries. “There is no environmental risks due to less use of water, more productivity per unit area, labour saving, no use of pesticides,” he said.
In India as the urban population is expected to rise by 50 per cent 2030, the overall hydroponics system market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 12.1 per cent by 2025.
Training Co-cordinator at the IHBT, Dr Ashish Warghat said revenue generating cultivations such as herbs, spices and floriculture crops can be grown under hydroponic and aeroponic system. “although the initial investment cost for setting up the system is high but in long run it will provide better returns to farmers,” he added.