Using technology to enhance farming without soil
In a four by four feet space, one can grow up to 60 plants and immediately after harvesting plant new seeds.
Shade net is ventilated to drop temperatures from inside. This ensures that fungus and diseases do not excel because of cold.
Using water efficiently, plantlets are watered three times a day.
Watering the plantlets using recycled water harvested from the trays.
Seven-day-old barley shoots or wheat grown from the improvised aluminum trays. Similar sprouts in soil would take at least 21 days.
Grandeur Africa technician laying a tray with mature fodder ready to feed livestock on the farm. The innovation eludes soil to speed up the growth as well as eliminating plant diseases.
Pigs feed on forage from the garden. Samuel says pork from pigs fed on hydroponic fodder has demonstrated reduced fat depth equivalent to a kilogram of fat from 72-kilogram carcass.
For leafy vegetables, soluble nutrients mixed with manure are embedded in aerated rocks which make plants grow faster. The presence of air spaces in the rocks makes it easy for rocks to absorb water leading to faster growth of the plants.
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In this photo-gallery and podcast interview, we showcase how Samuel Mbugua and Wachira Mwangi, biochemist graduates of the University of Nairobi, are using biochemist concepts and integrating it with that of the internet to enhance farming through hydroponic farming innovation, which is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil
Mbugua tells SciDev.Net that it can help in addressing existing challenges like climate change, lack of food, unemployment as well as scarcity of productive land faced by many, especially the youth and young graduates. Through their Grandeur Africa Limited firm they hope to train and equip farmers with the requisite skills for operating their own hydroponic structures.
The two young farmers demonstrate how innovation works. Twenty-seven-year-old Mbugua says they farm vertically in a small land where they use 1.2 liters of water to get one kilogram of fodder harvested after seven days from planting to feed their livestock grazed in the same premise. Recycling of water, which is a scarce commodity, ensures sustainability.
According to Mbugua other farmers visit their premises to learn about the technology, and they transfer the same techniques to them. He says that food security is crucial, especially in urban areas because of land scarcity as well as growing population.
Wachira Mwangi, his partner, says that elimination of plant diseases like fungus and pests is easy using this technique, and together they are exploring planting small leafy vegetables, for instance, spinach, coriander, and strawberries in tins and pipes filled with aerated rocks with soluble nutrients as an extension of their venture.