Development of an alternative method using non-soil medium for growing indoor plants for water conservation purposes and minimum watering requirements.
THROUGH EXPERIMENTATION, we made the following advancements and gained subsequent knowledge: Plants require oxygen, water and nutrients to grow effectively. In order to establish a balance between the water holding capacity of a medium, aeration and drainage are key to optimum plant growth and water conservation. The amount of water any medium holds is dependent on the components used, pore size, distribution, and the shape of the container.
Through research & design, Geoponics found that Lava Rock (as a growing medium) is extremely porous. Due to this characteristic, we discovered that its ability to hold air and water is significant as compared to other mediums (soil & perlite). The pore size of the Lava Rock determined the rate of drainage and oxygen exchange within plant roots.
We further found that large pores in the Lava Rock permitted air to enter the medium freely as the plant was irrigated/watered through the passive wick system. as a result, large quantities of air (oxygen) freely circulated in Lava Rocks (medium) while plants utilized water as per their growing needs, thus, ensuring water conservation (up to 80%) and simultaneously promoting plant health.
For the purpose of this study, Geoponics’ Pots were created by adding a water reservoir at the bottom of a glass/transparent container. The second step was the installation of three cotton wicks which extended from the bottom of the water reservoir to the middle of the plant holding medium (Lava Rocks). Water proof film separated the medium which held the plants from the water reservoir at the bottom.a plastic tube was installed in each jar to fill water in the reservoir.
The tube extended from the water reservoir to the top of Geoponics pot. We identified that the passive wick system which extended from the base of the water reservoir to the middle of the growing medium (Lava Rocks), close to the roots of potted plants utilized capillary action to supply water to the roots as per the needs of the potted plants. We further discovered that the water evaporation was minimal or non-existent as water didn’t travel above the root level of plants.
The rate of water absorption with Lava Rocks through the wick system was controlled and in perfect harmonization with plant needs, when compared to other mediums we tested (soil & perlite).Lava Rocks as a growing medium performed best for plants due to its porous nature coupled with controlled water absorption and retaining properties. Geoponics research concluded with substantial evidence of water conservation (up to 80%) when lava rocks were utilized as a growing/plant holding medium, especially for indoor plants.