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The concept of hydroponics for growing food both commercially and at home is gaining popularity and now one group of students has been exploring how to make the process even more sustainable by looking at what water is suitable for growing plants that are fit for consumption using hydroponics.
Innovation Origins reported on the research being conducted at TU Berlin, where students wanted to find out whether recycled water from showers at the city’s beach volleyball facility, Beach 61, in Gleisdreieck Park would be suitable.
They have created a vertical farm near the volleyball courts, where the waste water from the showers is treated and enriched with nutrients before being dripped into the containers holding the plants.
The aim of the project is to look at “how the role of gardens and parks for the urban climate, biodiversity and people’s quality of life can be integrated into political decisions to ensure more sustainable management of urban areas”.
While we’re certainly not suggesting that you use recycled shower water, we do think that hydroponics is a great way to grow your own salad, herbs and many other fruits and vegetables. Our online hydro store has everything you’ll need to get started if this is an area you’re interested in exploring.
We recently explained why hydroponics is such a great option for the home, with one of the benefits that you don’t need any outdoor space to grow your own produce.
It can also have benefits for your mental health, while hydroponic growing typically means that plants grow more quickly and therefore that you’re able to enjoy the fruits of your labour sooner than if you were growing in a garden.
In an article for Gizimodo, Tegan Jones revealed that she set up a hydroponic herb garden during lockdown and that it was very beneficial for her mental health as she found it so soothing to see the plants growing.
Given that 12 per cent of households in the UK have no access to private outdoor space, and therefore nowhere they can grow their own produce, the likes of hydroponics could become ever more important.
The research being conducted in Berlin is also essential to help more people adopt hydroponics, and could be crucial for the future of farming. As Innovation Origins pointed out, droughts mean that we need to find ways to grow food crops by using less water than present and without relying entirely on rainfall.
Agriculture currently uses around 70 per cent of the world’s drinking water supplies, so finding ways of using wastewater to meet its needs could have a significant impact on the sustainability of farming.
A recent article for Gulf News explored how hydroponics and the concept of vertical farming is gaining traction in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that has incredibly low rainfall.
“Vertical farms greatly reduce water use, but also bump up yield and ability to cultivate a larger variety of crops,” the publication noted.
In the UAE, one of the motivations for encouraging hydroponics and vertical farming is that the country currently has to import a significant amount of its food, estimated at 85 per cent. With hydroponics, it could grow more of its own produce and reduce this figure.