An agricultural experiment near Houston, Texas may make greenhouses obsolete. Plants are being grown in?
An agricultural experiment near Houston, Texas may make greenhouses obsolete. Plants are being grown in hydroponic bubbles with temperature controlled air currents supporting the bubble. In a one-and-a-half-acre tract on the farm 25,000 tomato plants are sheltering under the bubble, which is the largest of its type in the world.
"Hydroponic" means that the plants are grown in water rather than in soil. They root in gravel and are automatically fed three times a day with a scientifically prepared water solution containing natural nutrients. Fruit is consistent in size and shape and only one sixth of the land and water required for conventional outdoor farming is needed.
The fact that there are no roof supports means that 40 per cent more light reaches the plants. Growing time is faster, loss land is needed and the controlled environment virtually eliminates insects which damage crops. There is therefore no need for pesticides or herbicides. And the bubble costs half as much to build as an ordinary greenhouse.
SYNOPSIS: On a farm near Houston Texas, a hydroponic bubble is a strange feature of the landscape.
The bubble could make conventional greenhouses obsolete. For under its roof twenty five thousand tomato plants are growing on a one-and-a-quarter-acre tract. Hydroponic means that the plants are growing in water rather than soil. They root in gravel. Automatic controls feed the plants three times a day with a scientifically prepared water solution full of natural nutrients.
And what the roots do not absorb is caught and held for the next feeding.
The walls of the bubble are supported by temperature controlled air currents and there is no need for roof braces. This lets about forty per cent light reach the plants. More sun means faster growing and healthier plants. It also allows more plants to grow on a piece of land.
The controlled environment virtually eliminates the insects which damage the plants and dangerous pesticides are not needed.
Another advantage claimed for the bubble is that it costs half as much as an ordinary greenhouse. And fruit produced is consistent in shape and quality. The Texas experiment could lead to a spread of hydroponic bubbles and result in a more stable supply of fruit and vegetables --- and more stable prices.