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China: The aeroponic cultivation in Lishui City

From October 10th to 11th, Lishui held the International Conference on Ecological Value Realization Mechanism and the Closed Summit of Ecology. During the meeting, members of the American Academy of Sciences and professors at Stanford University visited their farm about aeroponic cultivation and vertical cultivation in Liandu District.

Three dimensional growing-fields
The cultivation frame for growing vegetables is about 1.5 meters high. On one growing spot, two of these frames can be planted. The space above the two walls can also be used and planted with tomatoes, which indicates vegetables here do not need any soil to grow. The farm uses aeroponic cultivation technology to cultivate, simply put, the nutrient solution is sprayed on the roots of vegetables, after vegetables absorbing nutrients and enough light, they can grow up healthily.

Dragon fruit plants adopt IoT technology in the greenhouse, and all aeroponic cultivation farming is controlled by computer with smart sensors and accurate fertilization, and vegetable roots absorb nutrients with high efficiency.

In the case of small vegetables, such as tomatoes, aeroponic cultivation can prolong its growth cycle compared to traditional soil cultivation.

"Earth building"
The above farming mode is suitable for carrying out in an open plain. Considering that without soil resistance, vegetable roots can grow very long. In the urban area, vegetables and fruits will be in the "earth structure". (An earth structure/building is a building or other construction structures made largely from soil.)

On the hillside of Yumenggang Village, a “Fujian earth building” rose from the ground. This is also an aeroponics shed, and it is about 18 meters high, the fog pipes rise spirally, and vegetables and fruits grow on the pipes.

The greenhouse is divided into three floors. Different layers of temperature and light will produce different fruits and vegetables. At present, small tomatoes are planted on the second floor and dragon fruit is planted on the third floor. The small tomato plant is as high as 2 meters and is full of fruit.

Xu Weizhong, the director of the Rapid Propagation Center of the Lishui Academy of Agricultural Sciences, was the developer of this aeroponic cultivation farming technology. The project “Innovation and key technology research and demonstration promotion of urban-style facilities horticulture cultivation mode” that he studied won the second prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award.

He said that this "earth building" is based on the development model of urban agriculture, which can take spatial planning into account and maximize the utilization of space capacity.

“In Lishui city, the land is a scarce resource, and we hope to build a greenhouse of 30 meters or even higher to increase the utilization rate of land.” Xu Weizhong is full of confidence. He feels that the future production methods and farming methods will develop toward no soil and verticalization. His aeroponic cultivation farming technology will play a greater role and help more farmers.

Flowers growing on the wall will be more beautiful. Director Xu said that the fruits and vegetables cultivated in this new way will not lose to vegetables cultivated in the soil in terms of taste, and the nutritional value is even better.

At present, the aeroponic cultivation model has been exported as a “Lishui Project” to other cities, such as Shangyu City and Zhengzhou City.

"We hope that it will become an industrial revitalization model and allow more regions of agriculture to develop." Next step, Xu Jianfei hopes to promote this model to the whole country and even abroad.

He said that the farm will continue to update the types of fruits and vegetables, and introduce the flowers cultivated in the fog. It will also carry out the integration and development of agricultural tourism, building a science base, developing research and tourism.

Aeroponic cultivation technology
The use of aeroponic farming technology is not only to cultivate without the soil but more importantly, it can develop into building a three-dimensional spatial farming model. Other surfaces, such as walls and rooftops of urban buildings can be cultivated, which can create a real urban forest-like ecological space and is an important technical support for building a sustainable city.

The application of aeroponic cultivation technology can be without any restrictions. The farming system can be built anywhere. It can be built on the Gobi desert, saline-alkali land, high mountains and islands, and even harsh environments such as polar areas, and space. The zero-emission circulation production method of aeroponic cultivation farming is the basis of permanent farming. The light, soilless, non-substrate, and no water flow of aeroponic cultivation farming are favorable conditions for spatial development. The suspended root growth mode is the key to rapid growth and efficient production. The integration of nutrient solution heating and cooling technology combined with the artificial cooling technology is the guarantee for the realization of pan-variety. This means, combining any facility technology and control means in any region and environment can cultivate any variety.  In the future, temperate crops such as cherries and apples will be produced in southern cities, such as Hainan, and tropical fruits such as mango longan lychee can be produced in the north, which is the basis of pan-species.

In particular, the application of urban vertical farms, using the lightness of the farm, effectively solving the bearing problem of farm building construction, is the basis of agricultural pan-urbanization. Vertical farms create a spatial basis, and aeroponic cultivation techniques are organically integrated to liberate agricultural production from the wilderness of rural fields, as an important supporting ecological infrastructure and composition for future urban construction.


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