The word "aeroponics" is derived from Greek: “aer” meaning air and “ponos” meaning labour. In a nutshell, Aeroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil or any other aggregate medium, in an air or mist environment.
Aeroponics differs from both conventional hydroponics, aquaponics, and in-vitro (plant tissue culture) growing in that it doesn’t utilize any growing medium, although some consider it to be a form of hydroponics since water is used to transmit nutrients when misting.
Plants are suspended in a closed or semi-closed environment where the lower stem and dangling roots are misted with a nutrient-rich water solution at regular intervals. The roots are usually separated from the rest of the plant by a support structure and a type of closed-cell foam. Trellising is used for larger plants to support the weight of the fruit.
The growing environment should ideally be kept free from pests and diseases to allow plants to grow quicker and healthier. However, most aeroponics grow rooms are not perfectly closed off to the outside, which means that pests and diseases may still pose a small threat. In a controlled environment, plant development, health, growth, flowering and fruiting for any plant species and/or cultivar will be advanced.
While optimized access to air aids in successful plant growth, materials and devices holding/supporting the plants must be devoid of disease or pathogens. Minimal contact between the plant and support structure is necessary to allow for the natural growth and root expansion of the plant, and to allow access to pure water and air exchange.
Growing plants aeroponically involves the use of sprayers or misters to deliver a fine mist of nutrient solution to the roots. Key to the root development is the size of the droplet sprayed. Too large a droplet means less oxygen available to the roots, while too fine a droplet produces excessive root hair without developing a lateral root system for sustained growth.
The increased aeration of the nutrient solution delivers more oxygen to plant roots than conventional growing methods, which in turn stimulates root growth and helps to prevent pathogen formation.
The use of LED lights for photosynthesis allows plants to be grown almost anywhere and can improve crop yields and quality for leafy greens.