Over the years, the focus from large-scale farming and imported produce has shifted to growing one’s own food and using minimum resources. In this regard, several new technologies have been developed world-over. As the population increases, the agriculture and food industries are forced to look at new ways to grow food in a limited space with resources saved, especially water.
In this regard, the invention of the hydroponic growing system is a positive step in this direction.
Hydroponics is a system of growing crops without soil, and is often called soilless farming. In the hydroponic system, the plant’s roots grow in a liquid nutrient solution or inside the moist inert materials such as rockwool and vermiculite. The liquid nutrient solution is a mixture of essential plant nutrients in the water. As experts explain on bartonbreeze.com, the plant roots are suspended either in the static liquid solution or in a continuously flowing nutrient mixture. The hydroponic growing system requires continuous attention to the crops, unlike the traditional farming system.
This new way of growing food without soil has been considered revolutionary as it allows people to grow food anywhere in the world, whatever be the season, with guaranteed higher yields and fewer resources consumed. By adopting hydroponics, we can create hyper-local food systems – something that is seen in several Indian cities today. Container farms are being set up within neighbourhoods and it is possible to put a farm directly behind restaurants that want fresh produce.
We now take a look at how hydroponics works:
- Hydroponic systems work by allowing minute control over environmental conditions such as temperature and pH balance, maximised exposure to nutrients and water.
- Hydroponics operates under a very simple principle: provide plants exactly what they need when they need it. Hydroponics administer nutrient solutions tailored to the needs of the particular plant being grown.
- The system also allows you to control exactly how much light the plants receive and for how long. pH levels can be monitored and adjusted. Plant growth accelerates in a highly customised and controlled environment.
- In gardens and fields, plants are introduced to a host of factors that negatively impact their growth. By creating a controlled environment, many risk factors are reduced: insects, fungal growth that can spread diseases to plants, wildlife hazards, pests, etc.
- Not many know that without the mechanical resistance of the soil, seedlings can mature much faster. By eliminating pesticides, hydroponics produce much healthier and high-quality fruits and vegetables. Without obstacles, plants are free to grow vigorously and rapidly.
Components of a hydroponic system
This is the most important part of a hydroponic system. It is important to know that the primary reason hydroponics gardening is effective is because the plants are fed not just water, but nutrient-enriched water that lead to optimal plant growth.
This is the substitute for soil, however, it does not provide any independent nutrition to the plant. What the porous media does is that it retains moisture and nutrients from the nutrient solution which it then delivers to the plant. Many growing media are also pH-neutral, so they will not upset the balance of your nutrient solution. There are a host of different media to choose from, and the specific plant and hydroponic system will dictate which media best suits your endeavor. Hydroponic growing media is widely available both online and at local nurseries and gardening stores, states freshwatersystems.com
Not essential, but this is a material that experts recommend. Airstones are ideal for adding oxygen into the nutrient solution, which will promote faster growth rates in your plants. If there is no pump to circulate the solution and no airstone, well, there will be very little oxygen in the water. The airstone will solve this problem, as well as keeping the nutrient solution fresher.
The six types of hydroponic systems
Wick system: This is a passive system that involves no moving tools. The water and nutrients solution is transported to the plant roots with the help of wick which is connected to the growing media.
Deep Water Culture system: This is most suited for growing water-loving plants such as lettuce, parsley, etc. It is known to be a cheap system which can be made from an old aquarium or watertight containers. You need to be aware that this isn’t suitable for big or long-term plants.
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain) system: The ebb and flow system has been found to be effective at growing nearly all types of plants, which includes certain root vegetables like carrots and radishes. However, it’s recommended that you don’t use particularly large plants with this system.
Nutrient-Film Technique (NFT system): In this active recovery hydroponic system, there is a constant supply of nutrients to the plant roots in this system. A timer is not used, rather a submersible water pump is used to pump the nutrient solution into the plant growing tray, the solution flows horizontally encountering the plant roots.
Aeroponic system: In this most advanced hydroponic gardening system, the primary growing medium used is majorly air.
Dutch Bucket system: This system involves growing the plants in the Bato bucket which is also known as Dutch bucket. This system involves 3 major things, as such the bato bucket with the growing media, watering line and the drainage line.
You can visit https://sensorex.com/blog/2019/10/29/hydroponic-systems-explained/ for further details on Hydroponic Systems.