Course Blog

Key technique to coupling plant hydroponic system and algae culture in famliy plant farm


Nowadays, food production land is decreased each year because of urbanisation and other human activities. Compared with that, global population is increasing [1]. Commercial food production, which is a common way to provide vegetable today, will cause large wast during production and the product was stored 2-3 days before goes to customers.  Our project aims to develop a food production system to make out kitchen not only an eating place but also a production place, and also keep food recourses fresh in our meal. The project could explore a low waste, high efficiency way to solve the food problem in cities. Meanwhile, by living and working in this pleasant family farm, citizens could have a break in busy life.

Hydroponic system

The most important part of this project is a hydroponic food production system. Hydroponic plant culture system has been successfully applied in many area [1]. Compared with traditional soil agriculture, this technique allows us to do more specific control of the plant growth especially for indoor culture. The waste of this system mainly comes from culture media, which is rich in nutrient element and cause “red tide” pollution. “red tide” caused by algae in water could compete O2 with other organism and produce toxic in water, leading to deterioration of water quality. To achieve maximum use of medium, Plants have different requirement of nutrient element could be selected and form a plant series [2].

Coupling algae with hydroponic system

After the culture medium go through the plant hierarchy, there are some nutrients cannot be absorbed by plants but still cause water pollution. In this project, we plant to culture edible algae with the hydroponic waste. For example, spirulina, an edible algae, could grow under 18°C -38°C, with low sunlight requirement[3]. Recent study has proved that the nutrient in algae is the best for human. algae is high in lipids, such as oleic acid, DHA, are important in human health [4]. Another advantage of using waste medium is that waste medium has relatively lower nitrogen where the algae will be stressed to produce more lipid [3]. Nature products form algae are expensive to synthesis by chemical method and very low in other plant. However, the algae cultivation will be influenced by the plant hydroponic system, some researches has coupled algae with different hydroponic plants [4] , proved that hydroponic plants could influence algae quality. We are going to carry out some experiment to test which algae species to use and how efficiency the algae culture is. in the future, we might be able to generate algae with special functions or tests by controlling the growth condition.

Sunlight as another key factor to be considered

On the other hand, since the sunlight of is very limited at indoor area, the utilisation of sunlight should be very efficiency in the system. A possible solution is a vertical culture system.  in this system, the plant are allocated at different position with difference sunlight requirement. Generally, when we arrange the plant hierarchy, we need to consider both sunlight and nutrient factors. EDIS website give use some growth requirement for common plant species [5]. in the next few weeks, we hope to select possible species in our hydroponic system to test the growth of the whole systems.


[1] Barbosa, G., Gadelha, F., Kublik, N., Proctor, A., Reichelm, L., Weissinger, E., Wohlleb, G. and Halden, R. (2015). Comparison of Land, Water, and Energy Requirements of Lettuce Grown Using Hydroponic vs. Conventional Agricultural Methods. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(6), pp.6879-6891.

[2] Nguyen, N., McInturf, S. and Mendoza-Cózatl, D. (2016). Hydroponics: A Versatile System to Study Nutrient Allocation and Plant Responses to Nutrient Availability and Exposure to Toxic Elements. Journal of Visualized Experiments, (113).

[3] Estim, A., Saufie, S. and Mustafa, S. (2018). Water quality remediation using aquaponics sub-systems as biological and mechanical filters in aquaculture. Journal of Water Process Engineering.

[4] Eduardo, C C. Carlos, A C. Ana, T L. Maria, I L. Coupling microalgal cultures with hydroponics: prospection for clean biotechnology processes. J. Algal Biomass Utln.  2015, 6 (1): 88- 94

[5] Natalie B. Parkell, a. (2018). HS1279/HS1279: Leafy Greens in Hydroponics and Protected Culture for Florida. [online] Available at: [Accessed 22 Mar. 2018].