Growing Potatoes in Thin Air with Aeroponics

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We all know that potatoes are a staple of the American diet, and they are just as important across the rest of the world.  According to the International Potato Center, the potato is the third most important food crop in the world in terms of human consumption, behind only wheat and rice.  More than a billion people worldwide depend on potatoes for food, and global crop production exceeds 300 million metric tons.

Potato farmers face many challenges, however, and meeting the global demand for crops is just one of them.  Potatoes are prone to a plethora of pests and plant diseases, and in developing countries, many farmers do not have access to or can not afford quality seed for good harvests.  The International Potato Center (CIP) was founded to help combat these challenges and to work toward developing sustainable solutions that will help combat world hunger and the degradation of natural resources.

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Aeroponic potatoes at their first harvest (70-80 days) via CIP

One of the projects that the CIP has been developing as a sustainable farming method is growing potatoes using aeroponics.  Aeroponic growing is a soilless method where plants are grown supported at the top with their roots hanging into a box.  A solution of nutrients mixed in water is periodically pumped into the box and misted onto the hanging roots.  The roots stay hydrated and absorb their nutrients without having to stay suspended in soil or water.

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Amazing root growth at 3 months via CIP