PONICS VET: Hydroponics Agricultural Technician

PONICS VET is a European funded initiative that delivers training on the subject of Hydroponics Agricultural Technicians

The training is addressed to young farmers (aged 19-35) , coming from rural and semi-urban areas. It is based on the European credit system for vocational education and training (ECVET) in order to enable the mobility of learners between EU countries and facilitate the creation of employability for young people, especially in the agricultural sector.

The core aim of the PONICS VET project is to build up:
– an innovative professional profile, the HYDROPONICS TECHNICIAN
– a training course for such a profile.

Studies on agriculture reveal that it is a sector still suffering and struggling with economic losses in last years. In addition, there is also a fight against climate-related issues.
Rural territory is very exposed to climate change, as farming activities directly depend on climatic conditions.
Hydroculture has a key role to play in food provision and tackling global challenges such as water scarcity, food security, urbanization and reductions in energy use and food miles.
Hydroculture is per se an innovative farming method, since
– nutrients (from various sources) and vegetables are raised in an integrated system,
– in the future, the agriculture sector will need to produce more with less,
– contributes to create new employability skills and entrepreneurship capability for new green jobs opportunities.
The main advantages of using hydroculture (that entails hydroponics and aquaponics) to grow plants are that:
– No soil is necessary.  And this is directly related to the EU recommendations to go to a reduction of soil consumption, in order to achieving the objectives of the Soil Thematic Strategy and the proposed Soil Framework Directive. A report ordered by the European Commission, ‘Overview of best practices for limiting soil sealing or mitigating its effects in EU-27’ and completed in  April  2011  recommends,  among others, to  compensating   valuable  soil   losses  by  action in  some  areas to  offset drawbacks in eco-function, such should be the use of hydroculture.
– It’s stable and produces high yields.
– There is no high damage from pesticides, since these are limited.
– The   controlled   system   means   that very short nutrition  pollution is released into the environment. Lower nutrient requirements due to control over nutrient levels.
– Lower water requirement as water stays in the system and can be reused. In a hydroponics system some chemical nutrients are used to feed plants. In an aquaponics system, fish feed is used instead, there’s a natural balance of nitrogen and water is never replaced, only topped up due to evaporation.

Participation in this course is free of charge, but participants are asked to fill in separate surveys on the quality and usefulness of the course.

Project partners:
– Latvia University of Agriculture (Latvia)
– IDEC (Greece)
– Eurocrea Merchant (Italy)
– Association for Vertical Farming e.V. (international non-profit organisation)
– Union “Farmers’ Parliament” (Latvia)

Project Agreement No. 2017-1-LV01-KA202-035432

More information on the project website – HERE