Assessment of Electricity-Free Hydroponics in India: A Proof of Concept Field Study

  •  Indira Roy    
  •  Yelena Naumova    
  •  A. J. Both    


Subsistence and smallholder farmers in the Deccan plateau region of India struggle with a predominantly hot and dry climate and often accumulated debt due to the cost of fertilizer that they need to increase yields for profitability. While a low-cost deep-flow technique hydroponic growing system (DFT) as a supplement to soil-based agriculture could help reduce debt, the cost of electricity needed to operate the DFT makes it inaccessible to these farmers. The objective of this project was to test the viability of electricity-free DFT which would substantially reduce production costs. Two DFT systems were set up in a shade net house and prepared with identical nutrients to grow chili pepper seedlings. Each DFT system was oxygenated for 30 minutes per day, one system using an electrical air pump, and the other system was oxygenated manually. After four weeks of growth, the dry mass of the shoots of the chili pepper seedlings in each system was measured. While the pump-oxygenated DFT system produced more dry matter, the manually-oxygenated system produced a larger number of visually healthier plants. Therefore, we conclude that electricity-free DFT hydroponics may be a viable alternative to pump-oxygenated DFT hydroponics, making hydroponic farming a cost-effective option for poor farmers.

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