PS Nutraceutical International Limited (PS Nutrac) now grows crops without using soil. PS Nutrac deploys several technologies including hydroponics (plants in water), aquaponics (using waste produce of fishes to feed plants) and aeroponics (plants growing in air). Using these methods, crops can now be grown all year round, no longer seasonally.
Statistics has proven that over 50% of the Nigerian soil is not good for growing without the use of fertilizers. While it is easy to blame the farmer for the decline in the quality of crops, farmers have to combat the low fertility of the soil. Planting without soil thus saves the farmer the cost of importing foreign fertilizers.
Ogbole Samson, a co-founder of PS Nutrac, said that “plants grown without soil have higher phytochemicals, antioxidants as compared to those grown in soil.” There is healthier growing as there is reduced use of inorganic fertilizer (it can be totally eliminated), no pest, no fungicide and insecticides or other agrochemicals on the crops. There are aeroponics farms in Ibadan, Abuja, Umudike in Abia state and Araromi Ake in Ogun state.
According to Ogbole Samson “planting without soil is easy, it is first about understanding that plants do not need soil to grow, rather they need nutrient. The soil only acts as a support system – an anchor. Thus to grow without soil, a support system needs to be created – it can be a bucket, bamboo, basket, wood, PVC etc. Then a misty environ or nutrient-laden environ is created around the root region such that the plant has access to nutrient, and planting can either be done via seed or vine. The fundamental thing is to understand the natural growth pattern of the plant as well as physical attributes, as these will guide in choosing a system design as well as ensure space optimization.”
He also disclosed that there could be special sensors used in the farm based on specific request by the farm owner. The sensor monitors activities such as the nutritional level, moisture level, temperature etc. With the sensor system on the plants, the farmer has better control of the farm and the plants give feedback to the farm owner by sending text messages or email according to the farmer’s preference – yes the plants will send text messages or email.
This way it is as though the farmer can communicate with his farm as he gets regular feedback from the plants and the environs, ensuring the farmer has better control of the farm and understands per time what is happening in the farm and even within the plants.
“This method of farming will attract more people to agriculture as they see agriculture in a new light. Labour is cheaper as the farm is automated, there is healthier growing as there is reduced use of inorganic fertilizer, there is more income for the farmer, more job creation and grasses can now be grown in 7 days which will aid in reducing the clashes between herdsmen and farmers” said Ogbole Samson.