Growing tomatoes in the air
The volume of greenhouse hydroponic tomatoes grown in the US has risen in the last few years as growers embrace growing year-round without soil.
The volume of greenhouse hydroponic tomatoes grown in the US has risen in the last few years as growers embrace growing year-round without soil. A Nevada company, however, has taken the next step and not only has a system without soil, but it doesn't even bother with the water or soil-substitute that many greenhouse growers use. Instead, they grow their tomatoes in the air.
New Gardens provides greenhouse systems which, like most greenhouses, can reap the benefits of growing year-round and extracting more produce per acre. But New Gardens also does without any kind of sublayer, so plant roots hang suspended in air.
This system, which they term aeroponics, suspends plant roots in a box where sunlight is kept out and a nutrient solution is carefully misted to help the plant grow. The water system is computer-controlled and works on a closed loop, so resources are managed carefully.
They provide their system to growers as a turn-key solution to provide fresh produce to consumers since their greenhouses can be placed further along the supply chain. Since transport time is reduced, produce can be left on the vine longer to mature. Additionally, the flexibility of the growing schedule allows growers to time their harvests to take advantage of market conditions.
Currently, New Gardens only grows tomatoes in their facility, but they envision this technology could be useful for a variety of crops, like peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, basil, melon, eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower and many more.
Given all of the advantages of their system, they hope growers will see the value of growing crops in the air.