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Can maincrop potatoes grow in soil-less environment?


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  #1  
Old 03-03-2017, 10:08 AM
kr3t3n kr3t3n is offline
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Default Can maincrop potatoes grow in soil-less environment?

I've searched the Internet for answers but cannot seem to find anything about maincrop potatoes being grown in soil-less environment. Do any of you have any experience or knowledge on the subject?

My idea is to grow potatoes in 3 stages in aeroponic/aquaponic systems (depending on viability):

Incubator for small plants ready to become cuttings
Suspended aeroponic system for maximum yield of seed potatoes
Suspended aeroponic system for growing the seed potatoes to mature potatoes.
Has anyone tried growing maincrop or mature potatoes in aeroponics system? Or in aquaponic?

I was thinking of a plastic net, much like the ones potatoes are sold in bulk, attached to the tank on several heights where you would place your cuttings, with side holes for the plant stem and leafs to grow upwards.
The plastic net (if correctly chosen) should provide structure without covering the tubers too much, leaving them no air.

Having no other media to take up the space for growth and having top to bottom watering with nutrients might work?

Here are some drawings of the concept: http://imgur.com/a/QfSzw
As you can see in drawing 1, I'm thinking of securing two levels of plastic net with space in between them a bit more than the diameter of a fully grown potato. Those are inside of a barrel or a tube.

The tube has holes on its south facing side where the potato cuttings would grow out and feed on sunlight as described in drawing 2.

Then in drawings 3, 4 and 5 are three separate methods of watering with nutrients
drawing 3: with a mist making machine
drawing 4: with sprinkler type system
drawing 5: with top shaworing system

As for the plastic net, I am thinking of something like this: https://sc01.alicdn.com/kf/HTB1kKALG...Xq6xXFXXXO.jpg

Also, as the plants grow, they could potentially be pulled back inside the barrel (in the plastic net area where the potato growth would happen).
If the leafy part requires some structure to climb on, I can build a wall from another type of plastic net: https://www.sure-green.com//media/pr...s/thumb388.jpg

And end up with a situation like this: http://imgur.com/a/B8cyl

That should provide them the area to grow and wrap around if my logic is correct.

Please share your thoughts!

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Old 03-03-2017, 02:12 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello kr3t3n,

I haven't grown potatoes hydroponically yet, but do have plans to grow them using an aeroponic system. My plans include building a insulated box with a removable side. Insulated to help keep the roots cool. A removable side in order to be able to access the root system and be able to harvest the potatoes while the plants are still growing.

I wouldn't use the netting inside, otherwise the root system will become attached and intertwined in the netting. You won't be able to harvest the potatoes without killing the whole plant. If you tried to just cut the potatoes off and leave the dead roots attached to the netting, you'll provide food for pathogens and cause disease. I also wouldn't use a fogger for a few reasons. I would use mister/sprinkler heads at the top and let the water/nutrients rain down over the root system. You can use either a high pressure or low pressure system, but the low pressure system would be much simpler and cheaper to build.

If you want to use a 55 gallon barrel, I would create a door/opening on one side large enough to access all the roots inside. Make sure it's waterproof when closed. Then insulate the barrel to keep the root zone cool. Make small openings in the top of the barrel to place the mister/sprinkler heads into for easy access and maintenance, and so the water/nutrient will rain down over the entire root system. Then assuming it's a recirculating system raise it up high enough so it's above the reservoir, and create water return line from the bottom of the barrel back to the reservoir.
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Old 03-03-2017, 04:35 PM
kr3t3n kr3t3n is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello kr3t3n,

I haven't grown potatoes hydroponically yet, but do have plans to grow them using an aeroponic system. My plans include building a insulated box with a removable side. Insulated to help keep the roots cool. A removable side in order to be able to access the root system and be able to harvest the potatoes while the plants are still growing.

I wouldn't use the netting inside, otherwise the root system will become attached and intertwined in the netting. You won't be able to harvest the potatoes without killing the whole plant. If you tried to just cut the potatoes off and leave the dead roots attached to the netting, you'll provide food for pathogens and cause disease. I also wouldn't use a fogger for a few reasons. I would use mister/sprinkler heads at the top and let the water/nutrients rain down over the root system. You can use either a high pressure or low pressure system, but the low pressure system would be much simpler and cheaper to build.

If you want to use a 55 gallon barrel, I would create a door/opening on one side large enough to access all the roots inside. Make sure it's waterproof when closed. Then insulate the barrel to keep the root zone cool. Make small openings in the top of the barrel to place the mister/sprinkler heads into for easy access and maintenance, and so the water/nutrient will rain down over the entire root system. Then assuming it's a recirculating system raise it up high enough so it's above the reservoir, and create water return line from the bottom of the barrel back to the reservoir.
Thank you very much for the reply! It is very useful. The more I thought about how I will have to seal the holes to keep the light away from the roots, the more it became clear that having a box/table makes a lot more sense than a barrel. Now I'm thinking of a big box with side opening and the only thing I am unsure of is how to help the growing potatoes from falling off due to their weight. That was my primary reason to use plastic net. I am trying to avoid soil at all costs and other growbed media appear restrictive for the growth.

How are you planning to grow them? In soil?

And why are you against foggers?

Last edited by kr3t3n; 03-03-2017 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 03-04-2017, 12:59 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello kr3t3n,

As I mentioned in my earlier post I plan to grow them using an aeroponic system. The potatoes won't fall off because of weight. The plants roots are quite strong, as well as get bigger and thicker as the tuber (potato) gets bigger. The bigger the potato gets the bigger the root supporting it will be. It's not like a melon or pumpkin that can get over 10 pounds. Even the large baking potatoes only weigh about one pound.

You do need good plant support to keep the whole plant from falling through the opening into the root zone though. Support the main root ball at the base of the stem while allowing the roots to grow through, and support the foliage above as well.

Foggers by themselves simply don't supply nearly enough moisture. The fog always falls to the bottom making it very hard to get even coverage throughout the entire root system. The ultrasonic pads tend to clog (even the Teflon ones can), and foggers have been known to aid fungal growth.
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Old 03-04-2017, 01:14 PM
kr3t3n kr3t3n is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GpsFrontier View Post
Hello kr3t3n,

As I mentioned in my earlier post I plan to grow them using an aeroponic system. The potatoes won't fall off because of weight. The plants roots are quite strong, as well as get bigger and thicker as the tuber (potato) gets bigger. The bigger the potato gets the bigger the root supporting it will be. It's not like a melon or pumpkin that can get over 10 pounds. Even the large baking potatoes only weigh about one pound.

You do need good plant support to keep the whole plant from falling through the opening into the root zone though. Support the main root ball at the base of the stem while allowing the roots to grow through, and support the foliage above as well.

Foggers by themselves simply don't supply nearly enough moisture. The fog always falls to the bottom making it very hard to get even coverage throughout the entire root system. The ultrasonic pads tend to clog (even the Teflon ones can), and foggers have been known to aid fungal growth.
Thanks very much for the answer and the explanation, good to know! In that case, I guess you would use a low-pressure system with "sprinklers"?

How would you calculate the watering frequency and gaps between?
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Old 03-04-2017, 02:25 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Hello kr3t3n,
Yes, it will be a low pressure aeroponic system. Not only is a low pressure system much easier and cheaper to build, but a low pressure system would also produce larger diameter roots, and thus I would think potatoes as well.


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How would you calculate the watering frequency and gaps between?
Like always, by plant observation mostly. There are so many variables that the only real way to know if a plant is getting what it needs is by observation. I would probably start with a regular timer that has minimum 15 on/off times, and run it alternately. 15 on, and 15 off. If I felt that was to long between cycles, I would switch to a cycle timer and probably start running it for 5 on, and 5-10 off.
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