Tshering Namgyal | Mongar
The agriculture research and development center (ARDC) in Wengkhar, Mongar is piloting hydroponics, growing plants in water without any use of soil, which has been done well so far.
The project coordinator and the senior agriculture supervisor, Dorji Wangmo, said this method could be best practised where there is no land like in urban and peri-urban areas.
“One advantage of this farming is the growth faster, and it can be done around the year,” she said. It is also not labour intensive and uses nutrients efficiently.
Research officials said they were using readily available materials in the locality to develop the technology to be cost-effective, although there is standard and expensive equipment on sale in the international market.
As part of the research, the center has adopted two systems of hydroponics-nutrient Film technique (NFT) and deep floating technique (DFT) for this farming technique.
In the NFT method, the plantation is done on the pipeline which is connected to the reservoir which has the water-based nutrient solution.
In the other system, the hydroponics plant roots in the nutrient solution for 15-20 centimetre at all times. Through both BFT AND DFT methods, the center’s research team earlier successfully grew lettuces twice and harvested.
As part of the ongoing work, NFT system is implemented with more than 300 strawberry plants grown in the pipes. Plants have already fruited and some are ripened. Research officials explained that the NFT technique is totally automated and in every five minutes nutrients circulate within the pipeline so that a uniform distribution is made to all the plants.
It is grown in the greenhouse with humidity and the temperature sensor and the balance of heat is also maintained automatically.
If successful, officials said the knowledge would be disseminated to the interesting ones like LUC youth groups, lead farmers and entrepreneurs, making next level of farming available in the Bhutanese agrarian society that we are not familiar with.