Naftali Lazarovitch, Ben-Gurion Univ of the Negev, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer Campus, ISRAEL, Shimon Rachmilevitch, French Associates Institutes for Agriculture and Biotechnology of Drylands, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research, Sede boqer, Israel and Naftali Lazarovitch, The Wyler Dept of Dry Land Agriculture, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Sede Boqer, Israel
Conventional agriculture usually suffers from overuse of nutrients and water which in turn results in waste of resources and accumulation of toxic substances. Such practices eventually lead to poor soil condition and ground water contamination. This work was initiated to investigate the roles of aeroponics on water and nutrient uptake, water use efficiency (WUE) and growth of tomato; and to test the suitability of a newly designed aeroponics apparatus, ‘ECOPOD’ as a plant growing system. Tomato plants were grown in aeroponics, soil and hydroponics growing systems under greenhouse condition each in four replications. The aeroponics method showed significantly higher performance (P<0.01) in plant height and total fresh weight over soil and hydroponics methods. In total dry weight, both aeroponics and hydroponics methods were significantly higher than the soil. With regard to stomatal conductance, chlorophyll content and stomatal density, aeroponics and soil methods showed similarities both being higher than hydroponics. Hydroponics and soil systems have consumed 75% and 7% more water per plant per day than the aeroponics system respectively. The aeroponics system had higher WUE (more than 100%) than hydroponics and soil methods. Apparently, aeroponics system through the use of ‘ECOPOD’ apparatus is a promising strategy for better plant productivity and WUE.