IN THE NEWS
HYDROPONICS, CAN REVOLUTIONIZE PHILIPPINE AGRICULTURE
ASTS | 2010-08-02 11:43:30 AM

The overwhelming challenge of sustainable production of fresh vegetables in the country will probably end when Filipinos learn to revolutionize their approach to farming through the utilization of modern technologies like hydroponics.

Hydroponics, a type of urban agriculture, is a potential approach to revitalize agriculture by fundamentally altering the manner crop is produced, i.e., eliminating the dependence of plant on soil by completely changing the growing medium. Its concepts prove that soil is no longer crucial for the plant to thrive when the required mineral nutrients are artificially introduced into plant's water supply and plant roots absorb them.

Hydroponics makes use of crafty facilities, resource-efficient and cost-effective cultures and systems to allow more effective use of land, nutrient, water and labor in a comfortable and sanitary working condition. It also permits the grower to exercise better control of weeds, pests and diseases and in modifying plantís diet resulting to larger yield of better quality vegetables up to 10 times the yield of geoponically cultivated crops. While some plants grow better than others, almost any terrestrial plant will grow hydroponically.

Hydroponics is a clean, safe horticulture technique that offers economic and healthy alternative to organic soil gardening. Growers rely on higher yield and longer period of harvest season to offset the increased cost of maintaining the system and greenhouse structure.

In hydroponics, the use of any growing medium is possible but raising plants in a sterile growing medium with no reserved nutrients is advantageous. However, the choice is a question of economics and availability. Rice hull, an agricultural waste abundant in most rice-producing regions of the country and pumice, an extruded stone plentiful in Lahar Areas and coco peat, a by-product of the coconut industry, are better choices.

A system can also be designed as recovery system that would ensure every plant gets the precise amount of water and nutrients it needs in exact doses at prescribed interval. Sweeter and larger fruit can be produced using a flow rate of 1 to 3 L/hr and an application interval of 24 times x 15 min per day. Recovery or recirculating systems guarantee tremendous saving in water and nutrients.

Recent development in Central Luzon State University, in the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija, proved that honeydew melon can be successfully cultured hydroponically using rice hull, pumice and coco peat as growing media with nutrient solution delivered by low-head submersible pumps powered by a low-cost automatic controller. Under tropical greenhouse condition, good quality melon fruits were harvested about seventy days after seeding and can increase the growing season to four per year. The system has 36 percent of the harvest to break-even.

Hydroponics is still in its infancy in the Philippines as it is only practiced by hobbyists, businessmen, research-oriented institutions, and universities for research purposes. Thus, promotion of this high-technology farming systems in the country requires concerted effort from the government, businessmen and technocrats. Given preferential attention and top-priority advocacy, it can become a technical reality to promise yield never before realized and provide positive future to feed millions (cfsace227@yahoo.com).

Honeydew melon hydroponically grown in non-soil media under tropical greenhouse condition: (top left) during vegetative stage; (top right) in full bloom of flowering; (bottom) mature fruits hang on the trellis awaiting harvesting.

* Published in Manila Bulletinís Agriculture Magazine, June 2009 issue

The overwhelming challenge of sustainable production of fresh vegetables in the country will probably end when Filipinos learn to revolutionize their approach to farming through the utilization of modern technologies like hydroponics.

Hydroponics, a type of urban agriculture, is a poten...

The Agricultural Science and Technology School is now pursuing tomorrow’s agriculture. Using modern systems like greenhouse and pressurized irrigation technologies, the school exploits hydroponic techniques to grow honeydew melon and other high value crops.

Established on August 18,...

The Agricultural Science and Technology School is pursuing tomorrow’s agriculture. Using modern systems like greenhouse and pressurized irrigation technologies, the school exploits hydroponic techniques to grow honeydew melon.
The ASTS was established on August 18, 1995 to revitalize t...