Silica-based growth media: Cultivating crops without soil

Samantha Lynn Bogard, Fayetteville State University


Crop cultivation is an essential part of life sustainment and a soil alternative would be beneficial to crop farmers by providing a more efficient means of crop production control. A soil replacement medium composed of finned amorphous silica and nutrient broth was developed and found capable of germinating seed and maintaining growth. Experimental design involved observation over three years of plant heights, taproot lengths, and lateral root numbers to assess growth in soybeans. It was shown that the silica-based growth medium germinated seeds and accelerated growth in soybeans compared to soil. However, plant growth in the silica-based growth medium could not be maintained by the methods described herein. Therefore, further refinement of methodology will be necessary. This study demonstrates a silica-based growth media is possible and may be more efficient. Use of this alternative could reduce reliance on soil and allow for control over nutrient content in crop-growth substrates.

Subject Area

Agronomy|Plant biology

Recommended Citation

Bogard, Samantha Lynn, "Silica-based growth media: Cultivating crops without soil" (2011). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI1521453.