Hydroponics is a unique kind of horticulture farming in which you grow plants using robust mineral solutions that are rich in nutrients. A little difficult right? let’s make it easier. Hydroponics is a type of farming in which you don’t need to use soil to grow a plant. hard to believe right? In fact, plants are sometimes known to grow a lot better without soil, and grow well with their roots in the water (or the artificially created solution where the roots are immersed)- Such a kind of agriculture or method of growing plants without the use of soil is called Hydroponics.
However, this farming or this kind of plant growing- needs is water and nutrients, both easily obtainable from the soil. However without the soil, the proxy that is used is a nutrient-rich solution, where the roots are made to stand. In that scenario, there is no need for the soil. That is what is the s the basic idea behind the technique of hydroponics.
By the way, quick fact. Did you know that tomatoes are grown hydroponically?
What are the uses and benefits of Hydroponics?
While you grow your plants through hydroponics, you must have one key question on your mind. What is the key benefit of a Hydroponics method of Agriculture? The simple answer to that question is a higher yield. Hydroponics growers have discovered that the yield of a Hydroponically grown plant is manifold more than that of a normally grown plant. Why is that? As the roots of the plant are dipped DIRECTLY into nutrient-rich solutions, they are able to obtain a good amount of key nutrients without the use of soil (where the nutrient availability may be less or scattered). Root systems needed for a hydroponically grown plant are a lot smaller and plants can also be then grown in a smaller area helping them divert energy into the growth of leaves and stems. This is also favorable for people who have a lesser area to offer for their produce cush as a backyard or maybe even a small greenhouse. They even are known to grow faster. Also with a curated environment of indoor growing and greenhouses, hydroponically grown plants can be grown all-round the year. Lastly, as soil is completely eliminated from this kind of farming, there is no chance of pests or other harmful entities to destroy the hydroponic produce.
So quickly highlighting the main benefits of Hydroponics.
- More yield
- Lesser area needed
- More directed use of nutrients to allow faster growth of the plant
- No pests (that exist in soil) hence lesser chance of disease or waste of plant
- Can be used all-round the year once an indoor set-up / greenhouse is created.
The Different Methods of Hydroponics- 5 techniques of practicing Hydroponics.
There are various ways in which you can set up a Hydroponics system. You can pick and choose the kind of system as per your convenience. There are five popular methods of hydroponics, all of which have their own sets of merits and demerits. The method which you finally end up taking should depend upon which characteristics are most important to you ; few factors of consideration can be- how easy it is to set up, cost of setting up, lowest maintenance, biggest ROI driver, throughouts and yields, most safe and reliable. And there could be more such deciding pointers.
While each of these techniques is unique, the core principle is the same. There is no use of soil and there is a large usage of a nutrient-rich solution.
Flood & Drain Method of Hydroponics.
Perhaps the most popular method of Hydroponics is the Flood and Drain hydroponics method. What this method entails is the use of a huge reservoir to hold and retain the nutrient solution. Above the reservoir, there is a tray and a big chamber which is used to hold up the nutrient solution. Then there is a pump on the reservoir that takes up the solution to the tray or growing chamber. And this is where the solution is allowed to sit, until the medium can absorb the right amount of solution, then it is drained.
Deep Water Culture Method of Hydroponics (DWC)
Deep Water Culture is also a common method of Hydroponics. The Deep water culture system usually comprises of a main reservoir that is meant to hold up the bulk of the nutrient solution, and an attached system of buckets through which the nutrient solution is allowed to circulate. Each attached bucket is then topped with a new pot lid, through which the plant roots are made to grow. The DWC technique is great for plants that need a lot of water to grow.
Nutrient Film Technique of Hydroponics (NFT)
One of the most commercially used technique of Hydroponics, the NFT hydropnics method consists of the usage of a long grow chamber such as a PVC pipe or a channel. At equidistant spots along the pipe, there are holes made that contain either collars, baskets, or in some cases, grow media in which the plants are held. The roots of the plant are also allowed to hang down in the hole and a shallow stream, or “film” of water is run across the root tips.
Aeroponics Method of Hydroponics
Aeroponics is the most advanced method of Hydroponics. A grower will typically make use of a fabricated Aeroponic system. Once the system is up and running, the system would have to be monitored frequently.
There are multiple kinds of nutrients that can be used in making a Hydroponic system. You can use fish excrement, duck manure, chemical fertilizers and more.
A few Drawbacks of Hydroponics
Well, there are a few drawbacks of hydroponics (but there aren’t many!).
One- you would need to purchase some equipment to get started with a hydroponics system. You would need containers, pumps, lights, nutrients to set up the system.
Also, a lot of time and effort is needed to oversee your hydroponics system so unlike the case of natural growing on soil, you may have to be physically present and around to see the growth of your plant. If you would want to reduce manual intervention, you may have to invest a little more in things like lighting timers or automated systems thereby reduce your dependence.
Lastly, once your hydroponic plant starts to grow rapidly and fast, you may have to change the set-up or immerse the plant in a wider area to factor in this growth.
Hydroponic system is an excellent way to create your own curated set-up, that way you know exactly the kind of conditions your plants are being grown in. You would be able to ensure the plant grows in the right mix of proportions. With the perfect formula of light, pH balance, and right nutrients, you would be able to grow your plants hydroponically. Hope this helps you get started.