BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department
BS in BioResource and Agricultural Engineering
This project encompasses the design, construction, and evaluation of a vertical hydropoinc tower. The tower was designed to cycle nutrient rich water through two hydropoinc systems, drip and nutrient film technique then return the water back to the reservoir. The tower will grow 5 different plant varieties. Evaluations have been done on the elevation, system type, and crop type to determine the most productive.
The tower contained four troughs where plants were grown. Due to the structure of the tower two of the troughs were elevated 20” higher than the other two troughs. The elevation of the plants did not cause a noticeable difference in growth. The two systems used were Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and Drip. The NFT system contained a set water level in the troughs to allow the plants to receive water through the roots. The Drip system ran a hose to each of the plants allowing the plants to receive water as it passes by their roots. The two systems grew plants at the same rate and growth was not noticeably different between the two systems. The leafy plants used were romaine lettuce, head lettuce, winterbor kale, swiss chard, and bonnie spinach. The crops that exhibited the largest growth in the 18 days were the romaine lettuce, head lettuce, and winterbor kale.
The idea of growing with a vertical hydropoinc tower is to increase the productivity per acre of land. Keeping this in mind a recommendation for future growing cycles is to use the same wood frame but to modify the troughs by adding an additional hole between the existing holes to increase the amount of plants grown. Another recommendation is to only use the NFT irrigation system because you will not need to purchase emitters and additional hose to run to each plant. Lastly growing a variety of romaine lettuce, head lettuce, and winterbor kale together in the system is recommended because they displayed the largest and quickest growth in the 18 days of growing.