Deep Dive into Aeroponics
Page to capture notes, experiments and builds for aeroponics that have been tested in home environment. This is done for fun and experience and can hopefully help other that take the plunge into this fun and exciting hobby.
What is Aeroponics
A Deeper look at Aeroponics
The simple definition is a growing method in which the roots are grown without a medium, soil or water and hang in the air. Feeding is done by a nutrienet enriched spray at regular intervals (or conitinous). Because of the lack of a grow medium; the plants tend to grow much faster with higher yields; as less energy is put into growing the roots and it maximizes the intake of air/oxgen in root zone. This does come with some negatives.
Massive growth rate increases and shorter cycle times
Uses far less nutrients and resources than hydroponics and most other soil systems. With close looped design; not unusual to run a single nutrient mix for 4-5 weeks with only 10% or so loss from evaporation.
Have direct control over what the plant gets fed with abilty to make almost immediate changes. No guessing needed.
By far the most challenging and fun; the technical expertise required to run a system tends be alot higher (both a pro and con).
Far more expensive for initial setup; upkeep about the same
The system tends to be much more complicated and has very little support for home gardeners
Any mistakes or failures are very unforgiving. Can lose entire crop in matter of hours (ie: pump failure). Due to the roots requiring misting at 5-10min intervals. Once the roots dry out the plant is typically dead or heavily damaged.
This is not a set and forget system; the massive growth rates and razor thing margins for error. Be prepared to spend at least 15-30mins a day during grow cycles.
Main Types of Aeroponic systems:
Low pressure Aeroponics (LPA)
High pressure Aeroponics (HPA)
Fogoponics or ultrasonic mister systems
Other, marketing gimmicks that miss-use the aero name and typically are a drip system or other basic hydroponic system with fancy marketing. Majority of commercial home consumer products are in this bucket.
Will cover the different systems below and the builds we have done and some of the results. Along with bill of materials for reference. The youtube channel and growdiary has some of the results from the last 5 years of testing and experiments in Aero.
Low pressure Aeroponics
The place where most of us start. Budget builds and budget results. These systems leverage a simple sprayer and low pressure fountain pump that is put into the root chamber. They spray upwards and soak the root zone; typically with a 24/7 spray. The issues are many with this build and it is not recommended for anything larger than clones and young plants.
Budget, budget, budget - very low cost system with a 50-100 dollar entry level setup
Simple system with not too many technical details.
Somewhat of a mixture of DWC-hydroponics and aeroponics. Arguable still better then hydroponics.
Roots do not develop the fine hairs and tend to look more like a hydroponics root (sleek and thin).
Makes a great cloning machine.
Constantly leaks, keep a mop handy. Due to way the sprayer works with larger water droplets.
Less then optimized results once the plants get mid-size. Borderline improvement over traditional hydro methods.
The shared root chamber becomes a problem as the roots begin to grow into pump.
High pressure Aeroponics
HPA - monster hairy roots!
High Pressure Aeroponics is typically considered the only true aero systems by some. This is where you will see massive spike in grow rates and yields. The system leverages a fine mist spray at 50 microns or less nozzles with at least 100PSI of pressure.
Most efficient / less waste
Massive yields and growth rates, faster then any other growing method
Can be fully automated (for a price)
Explosive root growth with fine hairs that can absorb alot of nutrients very quickly.
Most expensive by far (10x cost range)
Prone to more failures due to the many moving parts
Nozzle clogs are normal
Can kill an entire crop in a matter of hours
Power of ultrasonic misters
Fogoponics is technically a sub-category of aeroponics; using ultrasonic misters or other devices that create a fog in root chamber. These systems can be complicated or quite simple and usually have similar results to high pressure aeroponics. Some view it as the future of aeroponics growing.
Can be a much simpler system then aeroponics (no high pressure lines, nozzles, solenoids)
Roots develop fine hairs and become huge
Lack of mechanical moving parts means less failures / technical issues
Huge potential for easy scalability and larger grows
Claims / hypothesis that the smaller water droplets can be absorbed faster by plants
Original Nasa aero study found that most plants prefer a 30-100micron sized water droplet for best yield and growth rates. Fogponics is smaller at 5-20 microns level.
Tends to use more nutrient mix then aeroponics due to evaporation after misting.
The shared root chamber becomes a problem as the roots begin to grow into mister heads.
Water can rise in temperature due to mister; cooling/airflow may be required to avoid root rot.
A-lot of the commercial products use the aero name and are actually drip or other simple hydroponic systems. These have nothing in common with aeroponics.
Limited marketplace for actual aeroponics systems that are available for home consumer market.
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