An up-close render of a plant root during the aeroponic irrigation process





As operators in the Controlled Environment Agriculture are searching for new ways to improve yields while reducing costs, one area that deserves more attention than it receives is aeroponic irrigation.

Aeroponics can outperform all other forms of hydroponic and substrate-based irrigation systems in total yield, harvests per year, and product quality. Crops grown in aeroponics develop significantly more phenols, vitamins, anti-oxidants and have recently been observed to produce previously undiscovered secondary metabolites exhibiting anti-cancer activity.

However, if you ask a grower about aeroponics, 9 out of 10 will tell you that it is a complicated, niche approach reserved for researchers and extreme yield seekers. This used to be true because despite the benefits, aeroponic irrigation used to be extremely difficult to implement and operate at any scale due to high-pressure pumping, clogging nozzles, as well as upfront and operating cost.

Freya Cultivation Systems has developed an aeroponic irrigation technology that eliminates all the legacy issues of aeroponics – and advances the state of aeroponic technology to a level where we are buildng commercial-scale aeroponic platforms for greenhouses.

If you are interested in doubling your yield, forget any pre-conceptions and continue reading.


Aeroponic irrigation is a process of growing plants in air while intermittently spraying them with aerosolized nutrient solution. When done right, plants can be sprayed for 3 seconds every 10 minutes.

Different terms have been used to describe aeroponics - such as “high pressure aeroponics (HPA)”, “low pressure aeroponics (LPA)”, and “fogponics”. These terms loosely describe the particle size of irrigation water misted on the plant roots. HPA, which uses very high pressure pumps with pressure-nozzles is the most productive due to the droplet diameter that it produces (between 30-70 micrometers). This particular droplet diameter range effectively boosts plant metabolism, oxygenation, disease resistance – but achieving the required droplet diameter is very difficult operationally. Therefore, other “alternative” techniques have emerged, such as LPA or fogponics, that may look the same, but in reality, they do not produce the right spray and therefore do not induce the required plant response - and are therefore far from the actual potential of aeroponic irrigation."

Freya’s ultrasonic irrigators have the ability to produce aeroponic mist in adjustable droplet diameters without any pressure-pumping. The e-nozzle technology uses ultrasonic vibrations within a titanium nozzle body to efficiently disperse high flow-rates of nutrient solution – up to 50 Liters per hour per nozzle. Moreover, because the nozzles are uncloggable, labor is near-zero and full nutrient solution recirculation is possible without any filtration.


AEROFRAME cultivation platform developed Freya Cultivation Systems

Increased cultivation area

Unlike the flowing nutrient solution in hydroponic and NFT systems, aerosolized nutrient solution can travel in three dimensions. This means that vertical structures, such as aeroponic A-frames, towers, walls and other cultivation structures can be deployed, resulting in 2x to 10x and higher plant density per available square footage.

Increased plant metabolism

One of the standout advantages of aeroponics is its ability to boost crop yields significantly. Studies have shown and our research as confirmed that aeroponic systems can deliver 10-60% higher saleable biomass yields compared to traditional growing methods. This means more produce with less space and resources, making it an attractive option for operators seeking to maximize their productivity.

Aeroponically grown baby leaf roots in a greenhouse

Enhanced Plant Quality

Crops grown in aeroponic systems are not only superior in yield but also nutritionally richer. They tend to be higher in antioxidants, vitamins, and other valuable compounds, making them more appealing to retailers and consumers. For growers looking to stand out and cater to health-conscious consumers, aeroponics provides a compelling advantage.

Aeroponically grown lettuce roots, upclose, visible root hair, grown by Freya Cultivation Systems

Disease Suppression

The elevated oxygen levels in aeroponic systems act as a natural defense mechanism against disease development. Increased oxygenation bolsters the plant's immune system, making it less susceptible to pathogens, as many harmful microorganisms thrive in low-oxygen environments. This protective effect enhances overall crop health and minimizes the risk of disease outbreaks.


Root zone oxygenation is an underutilized value driver in most CEA operations.

It is well established that plant roots can absorb and utilize oxygen. The positive effect of oxygen was first observed in field agriculture, where compacted soil was observed to produce lower yields compared to loose, well-aerated soil. This has led to innovations in field agricultural practices and equipment, for example, aeration equipment, or tractor tires that reduce soil compaction. When it comes to CEA, proper root zone oxygenation is rarely achieved due to the limitations of oxygen solubility in water.

Increased oxygen availability to the roots enhances yield, crop health and product quality. Oxygenation boosts the plant’s metabolic activity and induces the release of additional energy as ATP (adenosine triphosphate, universal cell energy currency). Increased root oxygenation has also been proven to increase plant resilience, stress resistance, nutrient and water uptake as well as reduce root disease formation and spread.


In typical CEA practice, careful consideration is given to avoid “overwatering”, which submerges the roots in water and displaces dissolved oxygen (DO) in the root zone creating hypoxic root conditions. In drip-fed hydroponics that utilize a fibrous media, e.g. rockwool or coco coir, a natural limit is reached relatively quickly for irrigation, a limit beyond which excess water will starve the plants of oxygen. In deep water culture (DWC) systems, liquid or aerated oxygen is supplemented continuously to maintain acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen in the root zone, with the natural limit being the physical property of water to dissolve oxygen at a given temperature and pressure.

Most CEA facilities operate at a temperature range between 20° C and 25° C (68° F – 77° F), which limits the DO concentration in the nutrient liquid to approximately 20 ppm. Dissolved oxygen is rapidly taken up and needs to be replenished - popular DO management techniques include disk aerators in liquid reservoirs, high flow rate mixing (agitation), air stones, Venturi systems, plasma treatment, and chemical additives.

New oxygenation technologies are emerging – including a novel nanobubble technology promising to maintain DO at 25 ppm – but these numbers are still too low for maximized plant performance.

Hydroponic lettuce roots
Aeroponically grown baby leaf roots in a greenhouse


Aeroponic irrigation works in a different way. Instead of submerging plant roots or using drip-fed growing media, plant roots are suspended in air with the nutrient solution delivered to the roots as an aerosol. Ideally, for most indoor crops, aerosol droplet diameter will be between 10µm and 50µm, depending on the plant and desired outcome.

The natural limit of dissolved oxygen (DO) in hydroponics is lifted for aeroponics. Whereas hydroponics struggles to maintain DO of 20 ppm, the DO of air is over 210,000 ppm (21% oxygen). Roots grown in aeroponics therefore have access to all the oxygen they could need to develop to their full potential. Operationally this is even more significant, because it means no extra effort or expense is needed to oxygenate the nutrient liquid.

Because oxygen concentration in the ambient environment is always around 21%, plant roots are exposed to significantly more oxygen than in hydroponic systems, maximizing plant metabolic potential. The boosted plant metabolism results in higher total yields, increased number of harvests and improved produce quality when compared to hydroponic or substrate-based approaches. In addition, due to the nature of aerosol delivery, it is possible to introduce a precise volume of water and nutrients resulting in predictable and repeatable outcomes, including weight and biochemical profile, resulting in less water and nutrients waste, and greater efficiencies and cost savings.

Further, when comparing root development between hydroponics and aeroponics, aeroponic roots develop unencumbered by growing media. Utilizing small droplet diameters, aeroponics dramatically increase root surface area compared to DWC or drip-fed media systems. Increased root surface area increases the potential for nutrient and oxygen uptake, and therefore increased metabolic activity. Furthermore, high combined surface area of aerosol droplets enhances the mineral nutrition effectiveness resulting in increased accumulation of minerals.

A microscope photo aeroponic root compared with a hydroponic root, taken by Freya Cultivation Systems


To master aeroponics, several key factors must be managed:

An up-close render of a plant root during the aeroponic irrigation process

1. Stages of Aeroponic Irrigation

The aeroponic cycle involves several critical stages, from aerosol dispersal and thin-film formation to nutrient uptake and oxygenation. Understanding these stages and optimizing them for different crops is essential for success.

An upclose photo of tiny droplets landed on plant roots

2. Key Factor: Droplet Diameters

The size of aerosol droplets, measured as the variable mean diameter (VMD), significantly impacts a plant's ability to capture and absorb the nutrient solution. Droplets that are too small or too large can hinder plant growth and performance.

Aeroponic spray intervals examples, taken from research studies, with sources

3. Spray Intervals

The frequency and duration of aerosol application intervals determine root oxygenation and metabolic factors. These intervals must be tailored to the specific crop, droplet size, and desired phenotypic expression.

A rotating ultrasonic aeroponic nozzle developed by Freya Cultivation Systems

4. Aerosol Distribution in the Root Zone

Efficient aerosol distribution within the root zone is critical for consistent yields and product quality. Factors like humidity, droplet size, root architecture, and plant distribution can influence aerosol distribution.


While aeroponics offers numerous advantages, it's important to acknowledge its limitations. These limitations can vary depending on the technology and methods used.

  1. Flawed spraying methods: Existing implementations of aeroponics, such as pressure-based systems and piezoceramic foggers, come with their challenges. Pressure systems are prone to nozzle clogs, which can disrupt nutrient delivery. Foggers produce droplets that are too small for many crops and generate excess heat.
  1. Operational complexity: Operating aeroponic systems can be complex and costly. Pressure-based systems require high upfront investment and specialized equipment. Maintenance costs can be high, and clogged nozzles can lead to crop losses. Fogger-based systems, while addressing distribution issues, also have their drawbacks, including high energy use and nutrient solution alterations.
  1. Research and Knowledge Transfer: aeroponic research mainly focuses on the effect of different irrigation parameters in a specific installation. When researchers discover favorable irrigation parameters, copy-pasting to a large-scale operation will not yield the same results due to the variety of environmental differences.A standardized platform is required to validate and implement favorable research findings at commercial scale.


As we conclude our journey through Aeroponics 101, it's clear that aeroponics represents a compelling future for agriculture. Ongoing research, technological advancements, and the commitment of dedicated growers hold the promise of overcoming current limitations and unlocking even greater potential.


Download our whitepaper on aeroponics and learn more about:

  • Why has aeroponics not become as popular as hydroponics?
  • What are they stages of aeroponic irrigation?
  • What are the existing technologies of aeroponics?
  • What is the new technology enabling easy adoption of aeroponics?

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Ultrasonic aeroponic irrigation nozzle developed by Freya Cultivation Systems spraying at plants roots in a greenhouse