PUNE: Aeroponics, a vegetable-growing technique that Nasa hopes to use on its Mars Mission, has been successfully implemented in Lonavla.
The technique involves minimum usage of water, fertilizers and soil, and is currently being used to commercially grow vegetables and herbs by Flora Consult for their client.
The project has started production of herbs like lettuce (Romaine and Lollo Rosso), basil, parsley and celery, and vegetables like cherry tomatoes, gherkin, and zucchini.
"This is the best tool for farming in urban spaces. Using this technique, one can convert building rooftops to vegetable-production bases. This can enable cities to have more green buildings with a sustainable healthy vegetable production," said Praveen Sharma of Flora Consult.
"This is white-collar agriculture," Sharma said. "Farming of the future. One need not dirty one's hands, remove grass, uproot or plant. We do not plant, under aeroponics. We just place the seedling," he said.
Sharma learnt the technique on foreign assignments in Saudi Arabia and Africa, in 1986 and 1991 respectively, where he got a chance to work with Israeli and Dutch experts.
The aeroponic system, according to Sharma, provides for a clean, efficient, and rapid production of food.
The system uses two main modules of growing — vertical and linear. "In the vertical system, one can grow 60 plants in just one square metre, as compared to just 8-10 plants in traditional hydroponics. The growing is done in specially designed towers," said Sharma, adding that a project of aeroponics technique consumes just 10% of water compared to field grown crops.