Aeroponic technology revolutionises seed potato cultivation

Initially developed in Peru, aeroponic technology is now being explored by AUSVEG, Australia’s National Peak Industry body for Vegetable and Potato Growers.

Potato seedlings used to produce seeds in the aeroponic system Image credit: flickr User: ILRI
Potato seedlings used to produce seeds in the aeroponic system
Image credit: flickr User: ILRI

According to the press release by AUSVEG, this cost-effective method of producing quality disease-free potatoes that are suspended in the air, removes seed cultivation from potentially contaminated soil so that seed potatoes can be grown with maximum efficiency before being sold on to commercial growers.

“Seed potatoes are a potato which is planted prior to commercial cropping for human consumption. From this ‘seed’ a plant bearing potatoes will grow. It is extremely important that seed potatoes are as free of plant diseases as possible before they are propagated. The technology may be a lofty concept to grasp; however, the implementation and construction of aeroponic growing operations are actually rather simple. All that’s required is a large, dark wooden box to simulate the effect of soil, and a mist dispersing pump to provide plants with their required nutrients,” said AUSVEG spokesperson Michael Bodnarcuk.

“Aeroponic seed growing operations run according to a process. Initially, the potato plant is grown in aeroponic growth chambers over a period of approximately two years. Once the seed potato has developed, it is screened for disease before being planted and propagated in soil. After a further two years, the seed potato can be sold to commercial growers with the assurance that it is free from most harmful pests and diseases,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.

Researchers from Cornell University in the United States have begun utilising this revolutionary technology in cultivating disease-free seed potatoes in New York State, where golden nematode disease has been laying waste on the region’s potato crops for several decades.

The New York aeroponic cultivation project is explored in the inaugural seed potato special edition of AUSVEG publication, Potatoes Australia, set to be distributed this week, along with features on seed potato treatment for commercial cropping, seed potato disease findings from the Australian Potato Research Program and a profile piece on young seed grower, Ben Warner from Lameroo in South Australia.

“AUSVEG is excited to release our first ever themed edition of Potatoes Australia and looks forward to continuing to promote the efforts of seed potato growers,” said Mr Bodnarcuk.

 

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