Aeroponic greenhouse opens in Turin

Yesterday the Italian Società agricola Alfa inaugurated their new Grugliasco facility. In the 2,500 m2 greenhouse they try to grow their vegetables with minimum environmental impact and a maximum level of automation. "We created one of the most technological aeroponic crops in Italy to produce healthy food without using chemical crop protection. The model was developed to grow greenhouse vegetables with a very low environmental impact", they explain. 
 


Healthy food and respect for nature
Società agricola Alfa's mission is based on the principles of healthy food and respect for nature. The company has extensive experience in modern produce cultivation and in highly-innovative structures.

The Grugliasco facility is controlled through a computerized system that manages all cultivation phases from spraying to the regulation of temperature, humidity, acidity and alkalinity levels. "Everything to guarantee a healthy natural environment where vegetables grow protected from weather events and diseases caused by parasites, bacteria or fungi", they explain. "We do not use chemical crop protection, weed killers or fungicide treatments - there's no need for them with aeroponic cultivation, as plants do not grow in soil or water." 


 
Contact with air
The plants are grown with their roots uncovered, growing in direct contact with air. They are periodically sprayed with water enriched with mineral nutrients. The solution that is not absorbed is collected in ducts and recirculated after being filtered, analyzed, sterilized and reintegrated with the substances absorbed during the cycle. This in turn means no water is wasted (up to 90-95%) and no chemical fertilizer is used. What is more, thanks to the closed cycle, there is no pollution of groundwater and the environment. 

The aeroponic cultivation covers 5,000 square meters with a covered cultivable area of 2,500 meters with a continuous cycle. 

Coming to life
Gaetano Verdoliva, developer of the aeroponic system for the company Aeroponica International, explains: "We've worked on this project for a year and we're very happy to have seen it come to life. Our grow rooms guarantee a production 10 to 20 times higher than traditional cultivation with high quality standards. This way, we can quickly meet the demand of clients looking for healthy food that has undergone no chemical treatment. Our next objective will be to create a range of nutraceutical food, i.e. that favors the psycho-physical well-being of consumers." 


 
Technical characteristics of greenhouses
The greenhouses grown in are Dutch, of the Venlo type, and are made of iron, glass and aluminium. Ducts are located on mobile boards so as to optimize space. A computerized system monitors all parameters and automation, while a cooling/heating system maintains temperature and humidity levels constantly.

Aeroponic vs traditional cultivation
"Plants grow better than with traditional systems because they are put in a condition to express their full potential. Continuous cycles deseasonalise the production cycle", the suppliers explain. "Aeroponic cultivation reduces water consumption up to 95% (in Italy, it takes 200 liters of water to produce one kg of tomatoes. With the aeroponic method, it only takes 6-10 liters)." 

One of the other benefits, they explain, is how aeroponic cultivation does not pollute groundwater or the environment thanks to the "closed cycle" system. "Transplant and crop change times are very quick and production is fully mechanized. And in addition to being a highly-innovative production system, aeroponic cultivation provides the chance to use disadvantaged areas, cultivate in areas with difficult climate conditions and overcome problems due to decreased soil fertility. Aeroponic cultivation reduces the need for pesticides and parasite treatments, safeguards the environment and produces perfect natural products." 
 
Aeroponic vs hydroponic

Unlike with hydroponic cultivation, plants are not submerged in nutritional substances but are suspended in an environment that is periodically sprayed. This means air has a better impact on plant development, making it possible to save substances and water and prevent the development of an environment suitable for the spreading of mold and potential viruses.
 
For further information:
Alfa Verdure 

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