Hydroponic System of Farming

by Olalekan Abdulsalami on 02 May 2020 • 5 comments
7 min read

Hydroponics, by definition, is a method of growing plants in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. Hydroponics does not use soil, instead, the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rock wool, clay pellets, peat moss, or vermiculite. The basic premise behind hydroponics is to allow the plant's roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth.

With people taking a turn for more health-conscious lifestyles, the demand for locally produced crops has grown considerably over the past decade. Hydroponic farms are one way that farmers are now making sure they can meet that demand year-round.  If you are considering hydroponic farming, you are likely wondering what the risks and benefits of this method entail. Below, we will list both the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponic crop production.

Advantages
Growing with hydroponics comes with many advantages, the biggest of which is a greatly increased rate of growth in your plants. With the proper setup, your plants will mature up to 25% faster and produce up to 30% more than the same plants grown in soil.

The water used to grow hydroponic crops is reusable. As the water flows through the hydroponic bed, it will eventually come to a stopping point. Many hydroponic farmers collect the water at the end of the cycle, filter it, and push it back through. This is a great way of conserving a precious natural resource and also keeping the cost of growing the crops down to a minimum. This is a major bonus to those who are concerned about the environmental impact of farming in general.

All of this is possible through careful control of your nutrient solution and pH levels. A hydroponic system will also use less water than soil-based plants because the system is enclosed, which results in less evaporation. Believe it or not, hydroponics is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff.

Hydroponic crops are grown in a sterile environment. Therefore, they do not require pesticides. Worms, bugs, birds, and other animals that often create crop damage do not exist within a properly clean hydroponic setup. When you do not have to worry about pest control, you can keep your crops chemical-free, which will make them healthier and more appealing to your customers.

You can avoid the hassle of mulching, tilling, and weeding your crops. Traditional farmers spend a lot of time and money every year stopping invasive species of plants from "choking out" their crops. In the world of hydroponics, this is not a relevant concern. If properly set up, the only plants that will grow in a hydroponic environment are the ones you put there.

Hydroponic harvesting is easy. Gone are the days of having to stand in a field, swatting mosquitoes, and picking fruit or vegetables. With a hydroponic garden, the crops are all gathered in one place, easily within your reach. This makes hydroponic gardening a great method for the elderly, disabled, and anyone else who may struggle with more traditional methods of crop harvesting.

You can grow a hydroponic garden in your own home. It can be a great DIY project and it's inexpensive to set up. There are Hydroponic Grower Kits available if you just want to get started right away.

Disadvantages
Although a hydroponics system has so many advantages, there are a few disadvantages as well. The biggest factor for most people is that a quality hydroponics system of any size will cost more than its soil counterpart. Then again, dirt isn't exactly expensive and you get what you pay for.

There is a limited production to hydroponics. While you can grow year-round (and this may make up the difference) you are limited by the space you have available. A hydroponic plant cannot thrive if it is overcrowded. Where, in more traditional farming methods, plants can be grown right next to each other, a hydroponic plant needs room to spread out. This means the number of crops that can be grown at one time is much lower than those grown in a field.

Another risk of hydroponics farming is the danger of water-based microorganisms. Bacteria and fungi grow in water. While some bacteria and fungi are good for crops, others can be dangerous. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to ward one away without the other. The sterility of hydroponics farming is only as good as the sterilization method of the farmer. Keeping your crops free from bad microorganisms and safe to eat can be a full-time job in itself.

You must monitor a hydroponic garden almost constantly. Keeping the delicate balance of a hydroponic garden in check can be stressful for some, and most hydroponic farmers will have unsuccessful crops their first few tries until they get their methods in check. Be ready to learn by trial and error. This is not an easy task to undertake, even though the benefits are ultimately great.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

The cool thing about hydroponics is that there are many different types of hydroponics systems available. Some of the best hydroponic systems on the market combine different types of hydroponics into one hybrid hydroponic system. Hydroponics is unique in that there are multiple techniques you can use to get the nutrient solution to your plants.


Deepwater Culture


Deepwater Culture (DWC), also known as the reservoir method, is by far the easiest method for growing plants with hydroponics. In a Deepwater Culture hydroponic system, the roots are suspended in a nutrient solution. An aquarium air pump oxygenates the nutrient solution, this keeps the roots of the plants from drowning. Remember to prevent light from penetrating your system, as this can cause algae to grow. This will wreak havoc on your system.
The primary benefit of using a Deepwater Culture system is that there are no drip or spray emitters to clog. This makes DWC an excellent choice for organic hydroponics, as hydroponics systems that use organic nutrients are more prone to clogs.


Nutrient Film Technique


Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, is a type of hydroponic system where a continuous flow of nutrient solution runs over the plant's roots. This type of solution is on a slight tilt so that the nutrient solution will flow with the force of gravity.
This type of system works very well because the roots of a plant absorb more oxygen from the air than from the nutrient solution itself. Since only the tips of the roots come in contact with the nutrient solution, the plant can get more oxygen which facilitates a faster rate of growth.


Aeroponics


Aeroponics is a hydroponics method by which the roots are misted with a nutrient solution while suspended in the air. There are two primary methods to get the solution to the exposed roots. The first method involves a fine spray nozzle to mist the roots. The second method uses what's called a pond fogger. If you decide to use a pond fogger then make sure you use a coated disc, as this will reduce the amount of maintenance required.


Wicking


Wicking is one of the easiest and lowest cost methods of hydroponics. The concept behind wicking is that you have a material, such as cotton, that is surrounded by a growing medium with one end of the wick material placed in the nutrient solution. The solution is then wicked to the roots of the plant.

This system can be simplified by removing the wick material altogether and just using a medium that can wick nutrients to the roots. This works by suspending the bottom of your medium directly in the solution. It is recommended that to use a medium such as perlite or vermiculite. Avoid using mediums such as Rockwool, coconut coir, or peat moss because they may absorb too much of your nutrient solution which can suffocate the plant.

Why Choose Hydroponics?     

Hydroponics is an excellent choice for all types of growers. It is a great choice because it gives one the ability to meticulously control the variables that affect how well your plants grow. A fine-tuned hydroponic system can easily surpass a soil-based system in plant quality and the amount of produce yielded.

If you want to grow the biggest, juiciest, yummiest plants you can imagine, then hydroponics is the right choice for you. It may seem intimidating at first with all the equipment and work involved, but it will all seem simple enough once you get the hang of the basics. Start small, keep it simple, and your hydroponic system will never cease to amaze!



References

Benefits and downsides of a hydroponic system[Accessed from www.epicgardening.com on 30th April 2020]

What is Hydroponics[Accessed from the www.fullbloomgreenhouse.com on 29th April 2020 ]



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5 Comments

  1. paramveer

    03 May 2020 AT 08:22 AM

    Very nicely explained
  2. paramveer

    03 May 2020 AT 19:45 PM

    Very nicely explained
  3. paramveer

    04 May 2020 AT 19:28 PM

    Very nicely explained
  4. Samuel

    21 May 2020 AT 20:19 PM

    So where do you guys come in? How does your job make farming easier?
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