What is hydroponic?
The word “hydroponic” is derived from a Latin word meaning working water. Simply put, hydroponics is farming without soil. This method of farming uses nutrient-rich water to grow plants. Some of the common plants grown in hydroponic farming are flowers and vegetables.
Although hydroponics forms an ideal concept in agriculture today, the method of farming can be traced back to the days of Babylon. However, due to technology evolution, hydroponic has eliminated the struggles in traditional farming like loss of soil fertility and water use. Besides, hydroponic has facilitated the increased production frontier in agriculture as it enables crops to be grown in multilevel buildings and year-around.
6 Common Hydroponic Techniques
This technique contains no moving parts. The growing mediums like perlite and Rockwool are placed in a tray. The nutrient solution is then released into the tray via the so-called wicks.
One of the major advantages of the wick system is that there is no pumping of water or the use of timers. This means it does not require constant monitoring. This method is also very applicable to the production of vegetable crops like kales, spinach, and broccoli.
2. Nutrient Film Technique System (NFT)
In the NFT system, planted crops are supported in plastic baskets in a given tray with plant roots hanging into a nutrient solution. The system is designed in such a way that it provides constant nutrient solution flow into the tray.
The nutrient solution then drained into a reservoir. It is ideal for plants with large established root systems like tomatoes as well as cucumbers. NFT can also be used for commercial production of favorable crops.
It is a systematic technique where roots are discontinuously or continuously kept in an environment saturated with a nutrient solution in the form of an aerosol (fine drops). However, the technique requires no substrate. We offer a pump that is specifically used for Aeroponics, shop here.
The growing plants’ roots are suspended in a deep air or a given growth chamber, with periodic wetting of the plants’ roots with a fine mist of atomized nutrients. This method does not only improve increased yield but also enables the plants to grow faster.
Moreover, Aeroponics has proved to be commercially successful for propagation, seed germination, as well as the production of tomato, seed potato, and leaf crops. Below is an illustration of how an Aeroponics system is setup.
4. Ebb and Flow (flood and drain sub-irrigation)
Ebb and flow can be simple yet complex. In the simplest form, there is a tray above a reservoir of nutrient solution. The tray is filled with growing medium, commonly clay pebbles, or planted directly in the tray.
On regular basis, a simple timer causes a pump to fill the upper tray with nutrient solution, after which the solution drains back down into the reservoir. This keeps the medium regularly flushed with nutrients and air.
Once the upper tray fills past the drain stop, it begins recirculating the water until the timer turns the pump off, and the water in the upper tray drains back into the reservoirs.
5. Deep Water Culture (DWC)
In this technique, plants are produced by suspending the plant roots in a solution of nutrient-rich, oxygenated water. Traditional methods of DWC use plastic buckets and large containers.
A net pot containing a plant is then suspended from the lid while the roots are suspended in the nutrient solution. An air pump is an important component in this system due to the limitation of oxygen in this system. Oxygen provides the plants with the energy it needs to uptake the nutrients. As a note, this system is the simplest and easiest system to get started with hydroponics. Microgreens like lettuce and basil are typically grown in this system.
6. Drip water hydroponic
This technique uses individual pots for growing plants. The plants get water from the reservoir by a network of drip tubing. Regular water pumping or a gravity-based system is used to pump water from the reservoir to the pots.
Growers can easily determine the control water supply to the individual plants via emitter. This is because each emitter has mechanisms that allow you to control the water flow into the pot. The growing media needs to be given time to breathe in between flows. If not controlled, the drip system may flood the plants hence drowning them. Therefore, the system requires good planning. Once the drip lines are carefully installed, it operates with minimal assistance.
Benefits of hydroponics
Economic use of water
Hydroponics saves up to 90 percent of water. This allows you to become water-efficient as oppose to watering soil. Simply change the water every week and your system will run with little to no maintenance.
Hydroponic farming yields 3 to 10 times more compared to traditional farming practices. This means that you can increase the production of vegetables and flowers without increasing the amount of space. Consequently, modern technology will enable the world to produce more than enough food. Amazingly, there will be increased access to affordable foods. Health-wise, you and your family with be able to meet dietary needs hence healthy living.
Shorten crop life cycle
Many crops produced under hydroponics like flowers reached useful stage earlier compared to crops under traditional farming methods. This means farmers can be easily managed especially in olericulture and floriculture farming.
Increased nutritional values
Hydroponic farming crops are characterized by decreasing the time between harvest and consumption. This implies that there is an increased nutritional value of the end product of the crops cultivated under hydroponic farming. Therefore, there is increased consumption and boosted immunity hence improved health status.
Just like greenhouse farming, indoor farming, hydroponic facilitates the production of crops under a controlled environment. Consequently, the practice makes farming possible in dry and acidic soil. In essence, you can do hydroponic farming anywhere, anytime.
No chemical use
Hydroponic farming eliminates the use of chemical farming. This means that when you practice this kind of farming, you will get products that are toxic-free. This means that there are no cases of food poisoning and pollution of the environment that chemical farming use like pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides.
No need for soil
Access and use of land for agricultural production is a major challenge. However, hydroponic farming forms a solution to landless people to do agricultural farming.
In order to know the most applicable technique for you, it is vital to know the features as well as the requirement of each technique or hydroponic method. If you want to jump-start and get started with hydroponics today, we offer a variety of turnkey hydroponic systems. Shop our hydroponic systems collection here.