ULTRASONIC AEROPONICS - SOILLESS CULTURE OF THE FUTURE

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  • 1 USDA-ARS and Plant Breeding Department, 1017 Bradfield Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853

Aeroponics, as a method of soilless culture, has been in intermittent use since the 1950's. Early Russian and Italian research suggested that productivity and use of space was optimized with this technique. Prior to the introduction of ultrasonic techniques, aeroponics utilized spray nozzles or spinning disks. In addition to the need for frequent cleaning, the first results in the formation of a boundary layer on the root surface, similar to that formed in hydroponics, which results in nutrient and aeration gradients. The second results in significant physical disturbance to the root system and, except under very controlled conditions, also develops a boundary layer. Ultrasonic fogs avoid these side effects and allow the use of carbon dioxide enrichment of the root zone as well as reduced nutrient concentrations. Initial results with commercially available equipment are very promising. Commercial implementations of ultrasonic aeroponics promise to be far less energy and manpower intensive than any other method of plant culture. Lettuce, corn, tomato, soybean, dry bean, and geraniums have all been cultured with this method.

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