Performance of basil plants in three greenhouse irrigation systems is being compared in a five-month trial at Wageningen University & Research (WUR) in the Netherlands.
The trial is growing the plants in two types of hydroponic set-ups – ebb and flow and deep-water culture – and in an ultrasonic aeroponic system using technology developed by Bristol-based company LettUs Grow.
Plants in aeroponics are suspended in air and misted with the nutrient solution, applied usually via a nozzle. By introducing ultrasonics to create high-frequency sound waves, the water is dispersed into tiny droplets, removing the need for nozzles and increasing the viability of using aeroponics in large-scale settings, the company says.
Researchers will collect data on growth rate and productivity; nutritional content; shelf-life; plant physiology; the effects of seasonality; and energy consumption.
LettUs Grow’s ultrasonic aeroponic technology was developed initially for container and vertical farms, but the company is now working on a rolling bench which can be retrofitted in greenhouses. The bench is currently being trialled in a feasibility study at Stockbridge Technology Centre, and subsequently at commercial nursery, funded by Defra’s Farming Innovation Programme.