India: Kochi students create low-cost solution that triples hydroponics yield

A group of students from the Federal Institute of Science and Technology (FISAT), Ernakulam, have developed a nutrition formula in hydroponics farming that gives three times more yield with a lesser intake of water and fertilizers.

The project was initiated in 2019 under the leadership of three assistant professors – Mahesh C, Bejoy Varghese, and Rajesh TR. They continued experimenting even when the pandemic hit by arranging a small farm at their own houses. Today, the team grows multiple varieties of vegetables in 1.5 acres of leased land near the campus.

As part of a central government project called E-yantra Farm Setup Initiative (EFSI), the team began experimenting based on the topic ‘application of robotics in agriculture’ with the support of IIT Bombay. “We got a well-equipped lab in the year 2017 and conducted many successful experiments regarding smart agriculture concepts. The idea of hydroponics farming, which is prevalent in America and European countries, struck us two years later,” says Bejoy, assistant professor, department of electronics and communication engineering.

“By employing hydroponics, both these issues can be effectively solved,” says Bejoy. “Even though the technique is popular and successful in many parts of the world, our farmers haven’t come forward mostly due to the high initial investment. We worked on that by developing a nutrition formula ideal for the climatic conditions and soil type of Kerala,” he adds.

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