Hydroponics is the method of growing crops without soil. It is considered a type of horticulture and is a subset of hydroculture. It is based on the principle that there is no need for soil for growing plants. This system allows the growers to get higher yields with minimum resources any time of the year and anywhere in the world.
Hydroponics- How does it work?
In simple terms, hydroponics refers to providing a different material other than the soil to support the roots of the plants. The other material here is nothing but nutrient-rich water. Designing a hydroponic system can be different. However, the core elements include
Freshwater- Water with a pH level that is between 6-6.5 is considered to be ideal. However, you can use water that is slightly acidic by treating it with over-the-counter solutions that can balance the pH level.
Oxygen- You might be aware that in traditional farming that involves the use of soil, the plant roots get the oxygen that is required for respiration from pockets of air in the soil. In a hydroponic set up you either have to leave space between the base of your plant and the water or oxygenate the water by installing an air pump.
Root support- The plant root has to hold on to something to grow. Therefore, it would be good to use items like vermiculite, coconut fiber, Rockwool, peat moss, etc to provide support to the root.
Nutrients- Just like how you add fertilizers to plant that is grown on soil, it is imperative to add nutrients like phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, etc as plant food to ensure growth and health of the plants growing in water. The nutrients are available as ready-to-use solutions that can be added to the water in which the plants are grown.
Light- You might consider investing in special lights to ensure that the plants get enough light that would help in their growth. The requirement for light varies from one type of plant to another.
Monitoring and adjusting these key variables would ensure the growth of the plants and the success of the hydroponics farming system.
There are six types of hydroponic systems. They include
- Wick system- The plants are grown by placing them directly on an absorbent surface like vermiculite or pearlite
- Water culture- The roots of the plants are in a nutrient solution. This enhances the absorption of nutrients and oxygen and speeds up the growth of the plant.
- Ebb and Flow type- In this system, the flow of nutrients for plants that are placed on a growing medium is controlled using a pump.
- Drip system- The nutrient solution is sent straight to the plant base. You have circulating and non-circulating systems.
- Nutrient Film Technology- It is a system that works out well when you are having plants that require a different level of nutrient solutions
- Aeroponic system- This is a complex system in which the nutrients are sprayed through mist nozzles.
Food safety is the priority after the spread of covid 19 there has been an emphasis on internal and domestic production. Hydroponics can help in achieving higher yield when compared to conventional agricultural practices is what experts feel.