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In mid the network presented this annual award jointly to Gregory Chow lecturer of Singapore's Ngee Ann Polytechnic and the Changi General Hospital1s rooftop farm project initiated by Gregory Chow.
Geoff Wilson can be contacted by email: Major keys to this opportunity lie in two words - aeroponics and aquaponics. These two technology spinoffs from hydroponics and aquaculture could make Singapore a world leader in: Rooftop production of fresh vegetables, flowers and fruit. Ground-level production of fin fish, crustaceans and molluscs in specially-designed containers.
A greener, cleaner city-scape for reduced output of harmful greenhouse gases and reduced "heat island" effects -- both of which contribute to global warming and consequent global climate change. The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore already has this opportunity within its easy reach for greater fresh food security for Singapore's three million or so citizens, especially if the AVA teams up in with Singapore's education and commercial entrepreneurs, both of which are already involved in innovative and successful hydroponics and aquaculture.
Singapore's is already a global leader in the aeroponic technology. This is an offshoot of hydroponics, which is most successful for growing temperate-climate fresh vegetables such as lettuce in sub-tropical and tropical conditions. In aeroponics, plant roots are contained in a light-proof box.
Cooling of the nutrient water held at ground level, and subsequent misting of the nutrient in light-proof boxes, lowers the plant root zone temperature and increases root zone aeration.
However, to guarantee productivity of temperate-climate plant crops under Singaporean conditions, it has been found that expensive refrigeration-cooling of the nutrient was needed so that root zones were kept at around 10 degrees C lower than the day-time ambient temperature, which could "cook" the roots and cause wilting and plant loss.
Nevertheless, the economics of the Singapore market where fresh, temperate-climate vegetables are air-freighted to the city daily from three continents has meant that locally-produced lettuce via aeroponics would work.
This has been an economic limitation on the aroponic technology until Thanks to Gregory Chow, lecturer at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore now has Air-Dynaponics - a much less costly way of maintaining low root-zone temperatures for commercially-successful aeroponics.
It costs only about one fifth to cool the nutrient solution. Air-Dynaponics and similar systems use the cooling principles of the latent heat of vaporization and the venturi effect in an air-powered operation that not only reduces the temperature of a nutrient solution, but also adds to its aeration dissolved oxygen.
Plants need this dissolved oxygen - and so do fish. The Air-Dynaponics and similar systems thus also open up wider commercial investment not only in the aeroponic technology, but also in the aquaponic technology in which fish provide organic hydroponic nutrient for plants.
Fish wastes from aquaculture excreta, surplus feed and micro-organisms growing on both provide the sole nutrients for organic vegetable growing in hydroponic channels or from aeroponic boxes.
However, in sub-tropical and tropical aquaponics there are two major advantages offered by Air-Dynaponics and similar systems, which are: Temperature flexibility where a sub-tropical or tropical fish species may require tank water temperature around 28 or 29 degrees C for optimum production, the organic hydroponic or aeroponic element for temperate-climate vegetables may require temperatures around 21 degrees C.
Air-Dynaponics and similar systems could cater for this without undue expense for energy. Improved aeration oxygenation -- dissolving oxygen in water for fish or plants is easier in cooler water. An Air Dynaponics system in aquaponics would mean that the cooler nutrient solution for plant growth can be returned to the fish tank a stripped of its nutrients that lead to fish deaths if allowed to accumulatate b with a much higher dissolved oxygen content for improved fish health and higher stocking rates.
Therefore, Gregory Chow of Ngee Ann Polytechnic and other workers in low-cost cooling and aeration of hydroponic nutrient, are developing a technology of great significance to the execution of a plan by the Singapore Government to increase food production from local farms - both at ground level and on appropriate urban rooftops.
Consequences of refinement of the Air-Dynaponics and similar technologies particularly to produce the best-flavoured produce can allow them to be capable of: Being designed into kit forms for local manufacture and export for both hobbyist and commercial applications in both aeroponics and aquaponics.
Developing another tourist industry segment in Singapore, based on its advanced urban agriculture and aquaculture.
In my view Singapore currently provides some of the world's best hydroponic education. But it could be made even superior through extrapolation of the Air-Dynaponic and associated technology from the existing inorganic hydroponic education -- into organic hydroponics and aquaponics as well.
There is scope for special urban agriculture education in certificate, diploma, graduate and post-graduate studies that focus on the higher technologies of urban hydroponics and aquaculture for the tropics and sub-tropics. For some time now Professor Lee has been advocating "sky farms" that use the aeroponic technology so well pioneered by Singapore's AeroGreen Technology Pte Ltd.
Professor Lee1s "sky farm" concept is another Singaporean idea whose time has come for the whole world's innovative approaches to urban agriculture that meshes with enlightened architectural design and urban planning. It focuses on sunlit bridges between high-rise apartment buildings or even office towers.
They could be retro-fitted as single or double units at first or second-floor levels, or part of a tier of vertical structures servicing the food and organic waste management needs of multiple stories.
Aeroponic vegetable production on the bridges would use nutrient solutions stored and cooled at ground level, then piped to light-proof boxes above.
The "sky farm" bridges can thus be relatively light structures.There is/was a problem with your internet connection. Please note that some features may not function properly.
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By Geoff Wilson. Geoff Wilson is President of the Urban Agriculture Network - Western Pacific and a director of Nettworx Publishing Pty Ltd, based in Brisbane.
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