Aeroponics used to produce better potato tubers
The University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) is testing the use of aeroponics to produce cheaper and disease-resistant potato tubers.
The project, which was funded by the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) in collaboration with the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), will end in 2017.
Providing cost-effective planting materials is crucial to increase the income of local potato farmers especially when they are competing with imported potatoes from China and other countries.
However, tissue-cultured tubers and plants are expensive, so farmers just cut stems from rejected tubers which could affect the quality of the potatoes.
Potato seed production through aeroponics is a soilless method, where plant roots are enclosed in a dark compartment and kept moist by a mist device containing water and nutrients. Aeroponics requires smaller space and potentially lower input costs like labor, nutrients, water, and chemical pesticides.
Ongoing field tests in Benguet State University has produced 19 tubers per plant, in UPLB 15 tubers per plant, and in the Northern Mindanao Agricultural Crops and Livestock Research Complex 25 tubers per plant.
UPLB is targeting 40 tubers per plant, compared to the conventional method which produces eight tubers per plant.