Assoc. Prof. Dr. Manoon Sirinupong, lecturer at the Department of Technology and Industry of the Faculty of Science and Technology, PSU Pattani Campus, and Head of the research team on “Environmentally-friendly Non-soil Farming of Melons”, referring to the research on growing melons using local resources, said that there have been trials on growing sprouts without using soil but sponges to create a water system, and growing the sprouts with sawdust from rubber plants and coconut shells. These organic fertilizers are mixed with nutritious substances for the plants. The water is controlled, so plants only receive as much as they need. However, the greenhouse must be well-managed because melons have many threats, especially mealybugs since the humidity creates a perfect habitat for them. The research team is still searching for the best solution to the bugs’ problem.
Melons take three months to grow, from the time of planting the seeds until cultivation. The difficulty is the requirement of grower’s constant attention to details. Even though it is a plant that requires little water, farmers need to consistently pay great attention to the water system.
“When we first began, we focused on using water efficiently. Using a non-soil growing method in still water leads to certain amounts of water becoming waste that needs to be replaced. However, we do not want to waste the water, so we work on a water treatment system, which will help transform the water, perhaps by adding certain compounds to it. The goal is to reuse the water for growing other plants, without compromising its quality. In this research, both vegetables and fruits were used, such as tomatoes. The plan was to use the recycled water for raising fish. If fish can live in it, then the water is considered to have returned to nature without negative effects on the environment. We will then use the water from the fishpond again for farming. The water cycle continues as such, and water will be used in the most responsible way,” explained Dr. Manoon.
Dr. Manoon also pointed out that the best plants to grow during the dry season are obviously plants that require little water. Farmers should learn about the amount of water needed by each plant. In his research on non-soil farming, he used a closed water system to examine the limitations of each plant. During the dry season, vegetables do not grow well, but fruits perform much better, such as melons. The climate in the South has changed drastically in recent times, so farmers need to adapt and consider changing their old ways of farming. All these will require new investment and a market for the products.
News from PSU, Pattani Campus Radio Station.