Have you ever wondered how you’re able to get fruits and vegetables so fresh in the off-season too? Agriculture technology has actually made planting & seeding of various vegetables, fruits and flowers possible in any kind of environment.
You can now grow lettuce at home, the okra plant in the winter or a mammoth sunflower indoors. This is a combination of smart and biotechnology. Instead of growing crops according to the environment and climate, you create the environment which is suitable for the plant you wish to grow.
Now, how can that really work? Where will you sow the seeds and how will you make them grow with the same nutrition in an adverse climate?
Before we get technical about this, there is a little basic concept about planting that I think you should know. There is a slight difference between seeding and planting. Agriculture technology exists for both. Let’s see how the two are different and how we are applying technology to both.
What is the Difference between Planting & Seeding?
You’ve studied in your biology class that a plant grows from the seed. When the seed germinates, it first sprouts into a seedling. Then, the roots and the stem come out and it becomes a sapling for a while. You keep watering it, till it grows into the plant, tree, crop or flower you want.
Now, the difference between seeding and planting lies in the stage from which you grow your plant. Today, it’s not necessary that you grow your plant from the seed itself. You can use the seedling or sapling too.
Seeding is the process of sowing the seeds in the soil from the very beginning. On the other hand, planting includes growing the crop using its seed, seedling or sapling.
Agriculture technology is applicable for all the methods – whether you’re planting from the raw seed or transplanting a sapling. Let’s see how.
Various Agriculture Technologies Used in Planting
If you know about agriculture technology, then you also must be knowing that it helps farmers with everything – from reducing risks to growing crops in the most adverse conditions. In fact, the need for land, soil and water has also reduced due to technology now.
These 3 agriculture technologies will help you grow plants indoors – either a commercial space or your own house.
To put it simply, hydroponic farming is growing plants without using soil. As a substitute, we use usually liquid nutrient solutions that may or may not have moist materials like vermiculite or rockwool. You might have to pay more attention to your plants if you’re growing them hydroponically.
Setting up a hydroponic farm might cost you a little more as you need to ensure continuous supply of water and electricity, artificial climate control and a clock timer.
Seeding and planting in a hydroponic system is easier, faster and more efficient. This is because there is no wastage and it is comparatively neater than soil for obvious reasons. Following are some plants you can grow faster using hydroponic farming:
Coriander Plant: A cilantro plant or coriander will grow in a span of 4 weeks if you grow it in water. While seeding them, make sure the temperature is between 68-78ᵒF and you’ll see them germinate in 5 days.
Mustard Plant: To hydroponically grow mustard seed, plant it moist rockwool after soaking them in water. Use a sprayer to keep it moist. It will take 7-10 days for it to germinate after which you can transplant it in a fully hydroponic system.
Potato: For planting potatoes hydroponically, the medium you need is perlite. If you’re planting more than 1 potato seeds, you need to place them at a distance of 4-6 inches and under 1-inch-deep perlite. You’ll be able to harvest the potato one month earlier than the traditional medium.
Zinnia: These colorful daisies like sunlight and a moist environment. To plant zinnia seeds hydroponically, you need to ensure the pH range of the liquid is between 5.5 and 7.5. Meanwhile, you maintain the temperature between 74-84ᵒF and make sure not to spill too much water.
Greenhouses are mostly commercial spaces that may be low-cost or pricey. This is because you can artificially control the temperature and humidity inside a greenhouse, also preventing problems like hailstorm, pests, floods and storms. So, the cost of your greenhouse will depend on the level of environmental control that you set-up.
You can grow plants with or without the help of soil here. Usually, in a greenhouse, it is more convenient to plant crops without soil, with either its solid substitutes or hydroponic farming.
Following are some common plants that you can grow here:
Lettuce: This is one vegetable that needs 6 hours of direct sunlight. So, how to grow lettuce in a greenhouse? Here’s what you need to make sure:
- Your bed has to be in a space where you get direct sunlight.
- When you’re seeding the lettuce, make sure there’s a gap of 12 inches between 2 heads.
- The bed needs to have loamy topsoil mixed with 1-2 inches of compost and a balanced fertilizer.
- You need to maintain the day temperature between 50-70ᵒF and night temperature between 45-55ᵒF.
Avocado: If you keep the heat and humidity high, you can easily plant the avocado seed in a greenhouse. To do so, you need to submerge it in a pit that his half-filled with water and support it by 3 toothpicks. After 6 weeks, you’ll see the roots and stem come out.
Wildflower: You can plant wildflower seeds directly in the soil or sprinkle them on a thin layer of peat-free compost. Make sure it doesn’t receive direct sunlight and you’ll find them germinate quickly. However, once they do, it is better to transplant the seedling outdoors.
Bamboo: If you want your bamboo seeds to germinate fast, use a good quality compost as your growing medium. Keep it moist and maintain the temperature between 68-78ᵒF. Do ensure that the spot in the greenhouse doesn’t receive direct sunlight as it can kill the seeds. Within 10 days, you’ll see them sprouting.
The concept was born due to lack of space for growing enough crops. You can practice this in a greenhouse, in your own garden or in any indoor space. Sunlight can be replaced by LED lights, control the temperature and humidity artificially and grow plants hydroponically too.
The point is that you’re utilizing the little space you have to the fullest and get the most out of it. Following are some of the plants you can grow here:
Scarlet Runner Beans: These plants can grow as tall as 15 feet if you grow them in a warm climate. You pant them at a distance of 4-8 inches, each at a depth of 2-3 inches. They’ll take 1-2 weeks to germinate and will bloom flowers in 2 months.
Tomato: This is one of the most common vegetables grown in vertical gardens. If you’re planting them from the seed, here’s what you need to do:
- You need to sow them in a container or trellis with 7.5 cm deep layer of moist compost.
- Add a thin layer of vermiculite on top.
- Then, water it and cover it with a cling film till it germinates.
- Once they germinate, you transplant the tomato seedlings in 5 cm containers filled with moist compost.
- Keep the day temperature between 60-65ᵒF and night temperature between 70-80ᵒF if you plant them indoors. For outdoors, ensure they get 6 hours of direct sunlight.
Strawberry: You can get hanging planters made of waterproof material. Strawberry seeds take a few weeks to germinate. You need to sow them on the top layer of moist and highly organic soil. If the weather is nice and warm, you don’t even have to water them daily.
Equipment Used for Seeding & Planting in Agriculture Technology
Carrying out artificial methods of planting requires you to have some machinery and equipment. We saw many examples of seeding and planting in different types of environments. Now, we take a look at some machines and smart tech that facilitate seeding.
Do you have enough space for a garden but aren’t good with gardening? If yes, then the best thing that can help you is a seed drill. This machine helps you with seeding in the right way – placing them at the right depth and the right distance from each other.
It can prove to be really helpful for growing grass, crops, flowers, vegetables and fruits. You need to place your garden seeds in the hopper and adjust the distance between the tubes. When you start the machine, the drill will sow the seed in the soil.
If u have a garden, you can use these drills for seeding perennial ryegrass, zoysia grass seed (lawn grass), vegetable seeds and flower seeds. It is equally helpful for commercial farming of food crops.
They’re one way you can practice farming sitting at home. Before you proceed for seeding, you can take a look at satellite images to understand the condition of the soil. It helps you understand the evenness of the surface, presence of rocks and many other factors that help you understand where and how to plant your seeds. The same can be used after seeding also, to monitor them for planting.
When you’re using satellites and seed drills, the technology can be completed with sensors. They allow you to understand soil conditions, temperature, humidity and other factors that visual images cannot provide. Additionally, they help you understand the exact spot where you need to sow the seeds along with the distance between them.
Following are the sensors used for seeding in agriculture:
Location sensors: For tracking the exact latitude, longitude and altitude for seeding.
Optical sensors: For analyzing the presence of organic matter, fertility and clay matter in the soil.
Electrochemical sensors: For measuring pH and nutrition levels in soil.
Dielectric Soil Moisture Sensors: For measuring moisture level of soil.
Weather Sensors: For measuring temperature, humidity, flow of wind and other weather-related factors.
Other Uses of Agriculture Technology
So, we’ve seen how agriculture technology is helping us with planting & seeding of crops in different ways and environments. However, there’s a lot more after seeding – irrigation, monitoring and harvesting. All of this also uses agriculture technologies like precision farming, agricultural robots, automated tractors and smart irrigation.
In fact, even blockchain is being used in agriculture for ensuring transparency in the food chain and ensuring food safety. You can buy and sell your vegetable seeds online at good rates as the transactions are irreversible and transparent here.
So, from planting and seeding to selling your yield, agriculture technology is assisting you everywhere. You don’t even need a large field now if you wish to start. Wouldn’t you give it a shot with it?