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Killing two birds with one stone thanks to organic vegetable towers

Killing two birds with one stone thanks to organic vegetable towers

A vegetables growing model applying advanced irrigation technology in Hanoi.

When “symbiosis” and “recycling” join hands

If diversity is the key to agroecology transition, symbiosis enhances the main functions of food systems. Agroecological practices make full use of symbiotic relationships to increase the efficiency of resource usage and plant resilience.

The symbiotic relationship in agroecology, which has been utilized by humans for thousands of generations, is presented through the form of biological nitrogen fixation by legumes in intercropping or rotational farming systems. This approach saves an estimated USD 10 million per year in terms of nitrogen fertilizer while still contributing to soil health. Another example is that approximately 15% of nitrogen fertilizer used for crops is derived from livestock manure - a combination based on plants and animals.

From symbiotic relationships, the elements in the agroecology system will treat waste more efficiently, which also means more recycling. By mimicking natural ecosystems, agroecological practices help promote recycling of nutrients, biomass and water in production systems. And more recycling equals lower economic and environmental costs in agroproduction.

Eco Vietnam Organic Vegetable Tower is nearly as tall as an adult's chest.

Eco Vietnam Organic Agriculture JSC has recently demonstrated a great example by introducing the startup team “Eco Vietnam Organic Vegetable Tower(EVOVT)”.

Mr. Tran Dinh Kham, a team member of the EVOVT startup, said that the default tower has six floors, vertically designed. When planted each tower occupies an area of ​​about 1 m2, but the harvested vegetable output is equivalent to 4-5 m2 of plane land.

The special feature of EVOVT lies in the microorganism core and accompanying parts such as a trash tray and a tray for worm tea juice (a type of irrigation water rich in nutrition).

The microbiological core has a diameter of 15 cm, approximately 1m high, capable of processing 30kg of fresh organic waste each month thanks to the composting principle as well as the active activity of Perionyx excavatus (composting worms) and natural microflora in the soil.

This microbiological core acts as the digestive organ of the vegetable tower, with decomposed waste as food for the worms. Decomposed waste water, worm juice and residual irrigation water flowing down are collected by the worm tea tray. Grower can then use this to irrigate directly the vegetables.

Composting worms eat rotting organic waste, dig to help loosen the soil, and discharge vermicompost everywhere to increase the fertility of the soil. After three months the organic waste in the core of the tower will be processed into organic fertilizer, which can be used to re-fertilize the tower.

Thanks to this natural circulation principle, Growers using EVOVT do not need to fertilize or change the soil. The more vegetable planted, the better and more fertile the soil becomes. The core of the tower also plays a role in creating air circulation in the soil. The soil is even more porous thanks to the movement of composting worms, thus always remaining its richness in oxygen, making it easy for plant roots to absorb oxygen and minerals.

An organic vegetable tower model on the roof of an apartment building.

A potential source of economic profit

It is becoming increasingly clear that the concept of agroecology not only proves useful in rural areas or large areas but can also be a foundation for breakthroughs in urban areas.

There are hundreds of square meters of roofs in Vietnam covered with corrugated iron. Therefore rooftops can be used as a location to treat a large amount of organic waste. Because according to statistics, 65 - 70% of domestic waste is organic waste treatable at home.

Another advantage is that people when applying this model will not have to pay excessive costs as the products can be sold at retail prices, killing two birds with one stone: protecting the environment, and having an additional income.

For example, with the average vegetable cost of each household in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (VND 1.2 - 1.5 million/month according to clean organic vegetables standard), organic vegetable growers not only contribute to solving existing environmental issues but can also generate an income of VND 5 - 10 million/month after deducting costs.

Agroecology is capable of creating human and social value. Through smart and advanced farming models, agroecology creates more job opportunities for women, ensures a varied and healthy diet, empowers humans and communities as a whole to join hands and solve daily-life problems.

Authors: Bao Thang - Hoang Anh

Translated by Samuel Pham

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