Aeroponics improving production

The SPK has brought into use a new aeroponic method for the production of seed potato. The method that is already in commercial use combines top technology and traditional agricultural knowledge. The number of tubers per plant is increased up to tenfold compared to before.

The idea behind the aeroponic method is that potato roots grow hanging in the air in a dark, enclosed chamber. There is no need for peat or other growing medium. The roots are sprayed at strictly defined intervals with a feed that has been tailored, among other things, according to the variety and growth phase. The potato stem stands in light above the chamber. The method requires its own equipment that enables strict control and automation of the feed spraying as well as changes to the lighting.

We use the aeroponic method as part of our minituber production. With the traditonal method, one potato plant produces 4-8 minitubers after 3-4 months' growth in peat. After that they are harvested in one go. The aeroponic production method increases the number of microtubers by up to a hundred per potato plant.

Cultivation experiments in the open field show that the quality and vitality of tubers produced aeroponically are at least equivalent to those grown in the traditional way. The number of eyes per tuber may even be higher. Consequently, the breeding potential of aeroponic tubers in the next phase appears to be greater than that of traditional tubers.

Thanks to the new method, new and promising potato varieties are introduced faster on the Finnish market from domestic seeds and dependency on foreign registered seeds is reduced.

The development project of the SPK has been funded in part by the Symbio programme of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, Tekes.