Aeroponics vs Fogponics Which is better?

Advanced irrigation

Both aeroponics and fogponics are relatively new growing techniques in greenhouse farming, indoor farming, vertical farming, and urban farming worlds. Both can be defined as plant growing methods when the roots of plants are hanging in water and nutrient aerosol, mist, spray, fog. Nevertheless, no matter how you define or classify these systems, they have already proven their superiority to hydroponics and soil-based farming. You can read more about it in this general introduction.

What is Fogponics?

Fogponics is a plant growing method when the roots of plants are hanging in water and nutrient aerosol generated with ultrasonic foggers. You can read more about fogponics here.

What is Aeroponics?

Aeroponics is a plant growing method when the roots of plants are hanging in water and nutrient aerosol generated through spraying nozzles. In most cases experts point out two main types of aeroponics: Low-pressure aeroponics (LPA) and High-pressure aeroponics (HPA). You can read more about aeroponics here.

aeroponics

Are Aeroponics and Fogponics the same thing?

Some industry experts and scientists do not separate aeroponics and fogponics as different methods or techniques of growing plants. In their eyes any form of growing plants in aerosol is considered aeroponics which is then differentiated into low pressure aeroponics, high pressure aeroponics and ultrasonic aeroponics (fogponics).

Why use Aeroponics and Fogponics?

No root disease

Root disease is a big problem for hydroponic farmers. If one plant in the production line gets it – every plant does. That’s not the case in aeroponic and fogponic technologies, because fog is an awful carrier of disease, quite often fog generators, high pressure or ultrasonic, rip apart any cellular organisms too. Since plant-to-plant contact is restricted in aeroponic and fogponic systems and each aerosol pulse can be sterile, aeroponics and fogponics helps reduce the spread of root disease. Also, if a single plant does get root or any other disease, it may be easily removed from the growing system without upsetting or infecting other plants.

Healthy roots on the left and Diseased roots on the right

More oxygen in the root zone

Aeroponics and fogponics are superior to hydroponics on this issue because oxygen solubility in water has a natural limit, when in aerosol environment there is more oxygen than needed by the plant. Because of the increased aeration of the water nutrient solution there is more oxygen for the roots of the plant, therefore it enables faster and better metabolism, stimulating growth and preventing formation of pathogens.

I. Aeroponically grown II. Hydroponically grown III. soil grown

Better nutrient uptake

Aeroponically and fogponically grown plants spend majority (99.98%) of their time hanging in the air and very little (0.02 %) time in direct contact with water nutrient solution that has been converted into aerosol. The atomized water and nutrient mist makes a major contribution to the roots’ efficient oxygenation. The roots are able to absorb oxygen more effectively because of the period spent without water. For contrast, aeroponics has a throughput of 1.5 milliliters per minute, nutrition film technique (NFT) has a throughput of 1 liter per minute.

How are Aeroponics and Fogponics different?

Technology differences

As we have already established, both aeroponics and fogponics are aerosol based growing systems. The main difference lays in the technology and method of aerosol generation. Low-pressure aeroponics uses low pressure sprayers that are very similar to your simple garden sprinklers. High pressure aeroponics uses high pressure nozzles and pumps. Ultrasonic aeroponics or fogponics use ultrasonic foggers that are very similar to home humidifiers. Naturally, these different technologies generate aerosol with different physical properties that have a tremendous effect on plant roots and their development.

Low-pressure aeroponics
Ultrasonic fogger

Aerosol differences

In low-pressure aeroponics systems, cheap and simple sprinkles squirt water nutrient mix in simple patterns and water droplet sizes bigger than raindrops. This results in root systems frequently having dry patches, preventing appropriate oxygen and nutrition uptake.

In high-pressure aeroponic systems, the plant roots are hanging inside a closed system above tubing with high pressure nozzles that generate 20–50 micrometer sized water droplets. Smaller droplets generated with high pressure stay airborne longer, have better distribution and reach of roots, do not carry root disease, use less water and nutrients.

In fogponic (ultrasonic aeroponic) systems, when the ultrasonic fogger is turned on, the liquid water fertilizer mix is converted into fine fog. This fog has the water droplet size of 1 to 10 microns, which makes it almost gravity defying and easily dispersible. This way the fog can travel, surround and penetrate all spaces around root systems, fully cover the roots.

Problem differences

Low-pressure aeroponics doesn’t have any technical problems that could bring the growing system down, but it’s unimpressive yields and inferiority to HPA and fogponics makes it an undesirable growing technology for industrial scale farmers.

High-pressure aeroponics brings the best yield results to the table compared to other two, but this methodology has some serious drawbacks. The biggest issue of HPA systems is clogging. HPA uses high pressure nozzles that have extremely narrow and small spraying holes for water nutrient solution spraying. Naturally, that means – nozzles clog up easily. When they clog up, your crops do not receive water and nutrients that they need. Without moisture the roots will dry up rather quickly and the result shall be death of your plant. If multiple nozzles clog up… Imagine this happening when it‘s almost time for harvesting, your long and hard work could go to waste immediately. Maintenance of these nozzles is a difficult and expensive feat. Also, HPA systems are the most expensive out of the three that we are discussing here.

Clogged nozzle on the left and New nozzle on the right

Fogponic systems have some similar problems to HPA. Fertilizer salt build up clogs ultrasonic misters that fogponics use. Yet again cleaning and maintenance becomes a serious issue. The most important part of the ultrasonic foggers is piezoceramic disk or membrane. These piezoceramics crack over time, and that happens more often than not, then the equipment stops working, doesn’t generate fog and your crops die. Another technical flaw of these foggers is energy inefficiency – 90% of the electricity used is converted into heat, not vibrations. This heat transfers into your nutrient water mix and badly affects plant roots. Moreover, the extremely small size of the water droplets results in high surface tension of the water droplet which makes it hard for the droplet to stick to the roots. Sometimes this fine or dry fog provokes the plant to develop an abnormal amount of secondary roots. So instead of growing it’s leaves, the plant is desperately trying to survive and develops a bunch of useless roots.  

Fogponic roots

Aeroponics vs Fogponics. Which is better?

Both aeroponics and fogponics have proven themselves as superior to hydroponics and soil farming techniques. Nevertheless, they come with a fair share of technical flaws that make these systems quite undesirable for larger scale farmers.

So, the short answer to which is better is Baltic Freya Fogponics 2.0

Baltic Freya has developed Fogponics 2.0 fog generator that doesn‘t clog. Our mist generators look like nozzles, but require no high pressure. The water and nutrient delivery hole within our fog generators is millimeters wide and it vibrates. We tried to purposely clog it by adding sand, by adding glass shards to the water nutrient solution and we failed to clog it.

Baltic Freya Fogponics 2.0 fog generators do not crack either. Even though our technology is ultrasound based, it doesn’t use piezoceramic plates or membranes that could crack or break. Our mist generators efficient energy design doesn‘t overheat the nutrient solution too. Baltic Freya Fogponics 2.0 fog generators can and do deliver the correct water droplet size of 20-30 microns. But if you wish for a different one – Baltic Freya fog generators are tunable, they can generate water droplets varying from 5 to 60 microns.

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