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IIT Kanpur Researchers Develop Solar-Powered Root Zone Heating System for Plants at High-Altitude Environments

The researchers at IIT Kanpur have developed a solar-powered root zone heating system for growing plants at higher altitudes.

Kritika Madhukar
T564he root zone heating is scientifically examined and modeled by burying a network of GI Pipes
T564he root zone heating is scientifically examined and modeled by burying a network of GI Pipes

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur have devised a solar energy-based root zone heating system and vermi-bed approach for plants growing in high-altitude environments.

According to authorities, the method, for which the researchers have also been given a patent, was created in response to the paucity of fresh vegetables or agricultural products in high-altitude places such as the Ladakh region, as well as the lack of proper organic waste management.

"When it comes to fresh produce availability and organic waste management, high altitude places pose some critical issues, particularly for our armed services, who require a considerable amount of fresh produce in their daily meal. Fresh food is difficult to obtain all year due to temperature and weather circumstances "Abhay Karandikar stated.

"As a result, this unique technology of root zone heating system and vermi-bed method created by the team at our institute is a big step towards providing fresh vegetable supply and a way to effectively combat organic waste," he added.

The essential assumption of the technology, according to the researchers, is a greenhouse (polyhouse) vegetable plantation and the supply of a heating root zone for the plants. 

The root zone heating is scientifically examined and modeled by burying a network of GI (Galvanised Iron) pipes conveying solar-heated water and incorporating aluminum sheet fins with the buried GI pipes to improve heat transmission.

"During the trial, a substantial temperature increase (7 degrees Celsius to 18 degrees Celsius) in soil was achieved, depending on the temperature of hot water flowing within the GI pipes." 

This increased warmth allowed plants to develop quicker and healthier than plants planted outside at lower temperatures. "In high altitude places, such a system can improve the farming cycle to provide fresh veggies even during the winter," stated Anubha Goel, Professor at IIT Kanpur's Department of Civil Engineering.

"This technology was field-tested, and it provided an effective solution for producing top-quality veggies in a protected environment," she explained. "The results were forecasted for high altitude places where the temperature drops to -15 degrees C or lower."

To address the waste management issue, on-site vermicomposting of organic waste was also carried out within the polyhouse in a pit, where extra heat was delivered to the vermi-bed by pouring hot water through underground rubber tubing. "As a result, this technique created a symbiotic system that not only increases fresh food supply in high altitude places throughout the winter but also gives options for creating practically zero waste."

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