Are potatoes the next hydroponic crop?

The resilience of global food security is a critical concern. Facing limited access to land and potential disruption of the food markets, alternative, scalable, and efficient production systems are needed as a complementary buffer for the maintenance of food production integrity. The purpose of this study was to introduce an alternative hydroponic potato growing system where potatoes are grown in bare wood fiber as a growing medium.

A system utilizing drip irrigation and plastic bags as containers was tested for three different types of wood fiber, two cultivars, and two fertigation strategies. Implementation of the system resulted in ~300% higher tuber production when compared to the local conventional farming.

The mineral composition of the tubers obtained from the hydroponic system was similar to the composition of tubers grown in the field and revealed the potential for biofortification. In addition, a fertigation strategy where the two application points were separated across the root zone resulted in tubers with dry matter content comparable to the potatoes grown in soil.

The recyclability, reusability, and simplicity of this solution may encourage its application for improving the security of food production in selected areas of the world as well as its utilization in urban agriculture.

Kusnierek, K., Heltoft, P., Møllerhagen, P.J. et al. Hydroponic potato production in wood fiber for food security. npj Sci Food 7, 24 (2023). 

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