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Universal solution will help grow tomatoes in the north and Arctic

Elena Fritz

Universal solution will help grow tomatoes in the north and Arctic
Tomatoes without soil
Staff of the TSU Biological Institute have developed a new solution concentrate for growing tomatoes without soil. This is optimal for critical farming areas—the northern regions and the Arctic. The biologists' development differs from the many other compounds used for growing crops with the hydroponics method in that tap water rather than distilled water can be used in the preparation of the solution and aeration is not required, which simplifies cultivation and reduces the cost.

A group of TSU Biological Institute researchers who study the characteristics of plant mineralnutrition has been developing a new composition of the nutrient solution. In a series of experiments, they analyzed the effectiveness of the preparation, studied its stimulating properties, and evaluated its productivity.
- To check the performance of the solution, we chose tomatoes, because it's a very convenient model, - says Yury Yakimov, the project curator, a senior lecturer at the Biological Institute. Now we are working with a ground grade, which is distinguished by its low growth and shade tolerance. In addition, we tried to grow cucumbers in this solution. As in the case of tomatoes, the productivity is high—on average, 35% higher than when grown in the traditional way.

According to the developers, there are many formulations of nutrient media for hydroponic systems, but there are two main difficulties in using them. First, because a lot of solution is required, it always has to work with concentrates, which must be diluted with distilled or deionized water. Second, growing in solutions requires aeration using an air compressor or a water pump. Without aeration, it is extremely difficult to achieve good results.

The novelty of the TSU biologists' development is that the concentrate can be diluted with tap water while receiving a clean working solution without sediment. There is no need for aeration, because even without it, the solution ensures the full development of plants—it contributes to good seed germination and improves the development of the root system and other parameters.

Currently, researchers are developing a technology for growing plants using this new preparation. It can be transferred to farmers and organizations engaged in cultivating crops. It is intended primarily for obtaining high-quality seedlings, so gardeners will be able to use it.
- The traditional method of cultivation is inconvenient because the quality of the soil is often low, so the seeds germinate unevenly and the root system of the plants is weak, - explains Yury Yakimov. - This problem is especially acute for the northern regions and the Arctic, where soils with poor mineral composition predominate, so vegetables are mostly imported and very expensive. Growing in hydroponics using a new solution makes it possible to obtain strong plants with good fruiting without the use of soil.

The solution can be used not only for vegetable crops but also for growing flowers, including "fastidious" plants. The preparation facilitates grafting, stimulates the development of roots, and promotes rapid survival after transplantation into the soil.

In the near future, the researchers and students of the Biological Institute (future agronomists, biotechnologists, and plant protection specialists) will begin a new experiment: they will start testing the drug on eggplants and bell peppers.

The composition of the concentrate, which includes balanced complexes of macro—and micronutrients, has recently been patented by the developers and named Unix. The product is ready to be launched.

Provided by Tomsk State University