Agriculture

Hydroponics – 6 Importance and Usefulness.

Hydroponics - 6 Importance and Usefulness
Hydroponics - 6 Importance and Usefulness

Hydroponics is often referred to as one of the best emerging technique of farming. Apart from coming up with the advanced technology-driven environment, something that is raising our concern in the world is the technique of farming. People all around seek healthy food, grown in a healthy environment. This is one of the reasons that is making organic farming more adoptable. In this context, hydroponics is one of the most emerging terms.

What is Hydroponics?

According to Wikipedia, Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture which involves growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent

Terrestrial or aquatic plants may grow with their roots exposed to the nutritious liquid, or, in addition, the roots may be physically supported by an inert medium such as perlitegravel, or other substrates.

The nutrients used in hydroponic systems can come from many different sources, including fish excrement, duck manure, purchased chemical fertilizers, or artificial nutrient solutions. Plants commonly grown hydroponically, on inert media, include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuces, cannabis, and Arabidopsis thaliana, which serves as model organism in plant science.

Hydroponics has two terms involved i.e. \’hydro\’ which means water and phonics is toil. People have defined hydroponics as the process of growing the plants in water. Photosynthesis is the process through which plants grow, using sunlight. Chlorophyll is present in their leaves and is essential for the growth.

This chemical composition helps to convert carbon dioxide (present in the atmosphere) and water (extracted from soil) into glucose and oxygen. Therefore, the presence of soil is not always important because components need by plants for growing are nutrients and water. It is possible to grow plants without soil if these two components get a substitute from any other source.

How Do Roots Get Support in Hydroponics?

As this process doesn’t have the support of soil, the question arises, how do these plants get the support? Here, the whole system of the roots get support by the medium of an inert such as rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss vermiculite etc. the basic concern lies here is to bring the plant in direct contact with the solution having required nutrients.

Importance of Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is good for all types of growers. Scientists have discovered that plants are healthier, juicier and bigger in nature when this process is adopted. Compared to all other techniques, this is more simple, easy and cost-effective when it comes to gardening. Just with the prior basic knowledge of techniques and methods, it is an easy process to adopt.

Listed below are 6 importance of Hydroponics.

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Picture Credit: Zoe Schaeffer 

1. Maximizes Space and Saves Water

Hydroponics requires far less space than plants grown in soil. Depending on the system, when hydroponics are combined with vertical farming techniques, they can use up to 99 percent fewer lands than typical farming techniques. 

One reason for the smaller footprint of hydroponic plants is that the roots do not have to spread out to search for nutrients and moisture. Water and nutrients are delivered to the roots directly, either intermittently or constantly, depending on the hydroponic technique being employed. This means that each plant’s root system can take up far less space, resulting in the ability to grow more plants in a smaller space. When you add in vertical stacking methods, it’s easy to see how a much smaller area is needed to produce a hydroponic garden than a traditional one.

It may seem counterintuitive, but growing plants in water actually use less water than growing the same plants in soil. In fact, hydroponic plants can grow with up to 98 percent less water than traditional growing methods.

2. Facilitates a Micro-Climate

This means they can have their own micro-climates, insulated from many of the difficulties that traditional farmers must work to address. They aren’t left to the mercy of pests and don’t need to be treated with a wide range of insecticides.

3. Produces Higher Yields and Help Crops Grow Faster

Creating ideal conditions ensures plants receive the perfect amount of nutrients, which come in direct contact with roots. Additionally, microclimates allow for year-round growth and faster crop cycles. All of this adds up to create far higher yields than traditional farming methods.

4. Hydroponics Require Less Labor and doesn’t require Soil

Without the need for tilling, weeding, herbicide and insecticide application, and other labor-intensive farm jobs, hydroponics offers a lighter load for laborers and can easily be managed with far fewer man-hours. This both cuts back on the cost of producing crops, and frees up time for other pursuits. In fact, a small hydroponic greenhouse can be entirely managed by a single part-time worker.

Also, With hydroponic gardens, the soil is not a concern so farmers can grow whatever crops would be most beneficial to their community without concern for soil degradation.

5. Produces Higher Quality Food

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, fresher is unmistakably better. Few people happen to live in an area where they can get fresh produce year-round due to climate and soil conditions. So how do we get high-quality food into the hands of the majority of the world’s population, even in the offseason?

With traditional farming, the answer has been to pick the produce before it’s ripe and then let it ripen in warehouses and along the supply chain. At times, ethylene gas is used to artificially ripen food that has been picked too early. This is necessary if traditionally farmed crops are going to reach consumers in far off places. 

Food that ripens naturally, on the plant, typically has more nutrients and better taste too. Because hydroponic gardens contain their own microbiomes, these crops can be grown just about anywhere. This means they can be picked at the peak of ripeness since they don’t have far to go before they reach the homes and restaurants where they’ll be enjoyed.

6. Hydroponics Help Predictability and Seasonality

We’ve all seen it. Buy strawberries in the middle of the summer and they’re cheap, fresh, and delicious. Try to buy them in the winter months and you might pay as much as three times the price for berries that don’t taste nearly as good. Seasonality is an unfortunate reality for traditional farming methods. 

Farmers also have to contend with unpredictable weather problems that can wipe out an entire crop in a matter of days. Floods, fires, drought, pest problems, and more are a fact of nature and can happen anytime and anywhere. And when the area that supplies a particular crop has a major catastrophe, it can have a ripple effect across the entire food chain.

In a hydroponic greenhouse, conditions are controlled by the grower. This means you can grow your strawberries and harvest them in the dead of winter. And if a locust swarm comes through, the greenhouse will protect your precious crops from damage, no matter how many of the critters infest fields nearby. For growers, this means the ability to enter into longer-term wholesale contracts with fixed pricing. And they’ll be sure to deliver, come what may. 

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