Hydroponic farming is working with water. The technique is best for growing plants without soil. The production of plants is in nutrient-rich solutions. The plant growth rate in this condition is high. It is due to the rich nutrients and ideal conditions of growing plants.
Advantages of Hydroponic Farming
1. Faster growth
Plants grow fast in hydroponics depending on their genetics. Hydroponic plants grow 50 percent faster. This is because the plants do not need to expand their roots to search for nutrients. They have them in plenty. The growth rate of a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent higher than a soil plant. The growth conditions are the same in both types of plants.
2. Less space consumption in hydroponic farming
The farming is on a vertical system. This reduces the space consumption. The output per square foot increases. The plants can be grown even in a small space. In this system, the roots don’t need to spread as water and nutrients are available for them. Cultivation of crops is closer to each other which helps in huge space savings.
3. No need for soil
Hydroponics is a technique for growing crops without soil. The necessary nutrients reach into the water for the plants. As soil is not required for growing crops there is no need for any insecticide, chemicals, or weed. There is no issue of soil-borne diseases.
4. Climate control
As the crops are grown in a polyhouse, the temperature is set as per the needs of the plant. This helps the plant to grow faster and stronger. The system provides absolute control over the climate. It is because it can adjust the temperature, CO2, light, and air as per the needs of plants.
5. Productive use of nutrients
Plants access all the nutrients that they need and in the right proportions. In this system, plants get nutrient solutions mixed in water. This has better control over what nutrients their crops soak up. Plants don’t have to spend time developing their root systems in search of nutrients. They can grow much faster.
6. Improves growth rate in hydroponics
Plants grow faster in hydroponics as compared to other farming techniques. Plants get ideal conditions, rich nutrients, the correct amount of water, and electricity. This boosts the growth rate of the plants. The produce you harvest from your hydroponic farm will be fresh, healthy, and tasty.
The water recycles for further use, water consumption is less. There is no wastage of water. This reduces the production cost. It is very useful for large scale food production. It uses 10 percent of water used on ordinary planting. This helps in growing crops where you have a limited supply of water.
8. Production in any season is possible
Hydroponic plants are suitable in any season. This is possible due to its own controlled environment. There is no seasonal limit as crops can be grown year-round. It is not dependent on the weather. By eliminating the effects of mother nature, there’s no such thing as a ‘seasonal crop’.
9. Can grow anywhere
Plants can be grown anywhere. It can be grown near the market area. This will reduce transportation cost, increasing profit. No particular type of land or soil is necessary for cultivation in this method. We can grow any plant in any part of the country. They can be grown closer to their sales point and use less fuel.
10. Less use of insecticides
As no soil is essential in this method, the use of chemicals is least. The output is clean and healthy foods. This process doesn’t use any weeds. As the plants are grown in a closed system, the surroundings are safe for the crops. Hydroponic systems are generally indoors, so insecticides aren’t necessary.
Disadvantages of Hydroponic Farming
1. Requires time and responsibility
Hard-working and responsible attitude is a must in hydroponic farming. Plants will die out without proper care. Proper maintenance of the system is also required. The survival of plants depends upon your punctuality and reliable engagement.
2. Technical knowledge and experience
The system works on many types of equipment. Proper expertise is essential for all these devices. If there is any mistake in the system you will be damaging the whole progress. A proper set up of this system is very complex.
3. Risk of system failure
Electricity is the main source to manage the system. If there is a power cut, the system will stop working. The plants will die out in several hours. A backup system is necessary to conduct the process of farming if there is an issue with power.
4. High cost in installation in hydroponics
The cost of purchasing the equipment and the first installation is high. A wide variety of items are necessary to set up the system. They are pumps, lights, etc. An initial infrastructure is a hurdle in this farming.
5. Long term return per investment
The cost of initial expenses is very high. The return on investment is uncertain. It is not clear about the profitability at the start. This makes it difficult to find investors. The plants need careful monitoring from specialists for them to thrive. This increases the expense.
6. Disease spread
Hydroponic is a closed system. The water goes on recycling in this farming. If any plant has infections or pests, it will spread to other plants. Balancing out any mistakes can be even more difficult. You need good experience.
7. Problems in water and electricity cut-off
The system works on water and electricity supply. If there is a power cut the system will stop working. The plants may dry out and die in several hours. Keep safety precautions before starting to work with water and electric equipment.
Types of Hydroponic System:
1. Wick system
The wick system is the easiest form of hydroponic system. It is best for beginners as it has low maintenance. The solution reaches the tray through the wicks. This system can use a variation in growth mediums. The most popular ones are coconut fiber, perlite, pro-mix, and vermiculite.
The vast difficulty of this system is with large plants or plants using more water. They may consume nutrients faster than the wick can supply it.
2. Water culture
The plants are floating on recirculating water. The base that grips the plant is of Styrofoam and floats on the nutrient solution. An air pump provides air to the air stone. This stone bubbles the nutrient solution and provides oxygen to the roots of the plants. This system is best for fast-growing water-loving plants like lettuce.
The major drawback of this system is it does not work with large plants or long-term plants.
3. EBB and Flow in hydroponic farming
The system works by oversupplying the container with a nutrient solution. Then evacuate the solution back into the water tank. The process is possible with the help of a submerged pump well-connected to a timer. When you turn on the pump the nutrient solution flows in the plant container. When you turn off the timer the nutrient solution flows back to the water tank. The timer is set depending on the size and type of plants, type of growth medium used.
The biggest drawback of this system is that of power outages and pump and timer failures.
4. Drip System
The drip system is simple and used all over the universe. A timer is set on the submerged pump. The timer turns on the pump and the nutrient solution reaches the plants. This is possible through a small drip line. There are two methods of doing the drip system. The first one is the recovery system. Here the excess nutrient solution flows in the water tank for reuse. The non-recovery system does not collect the water.
The major problem with this system is that the drip lines may get clogged. This will dry the plants fast.
5. NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) in hydroponics
This system is common and used by people opting for hydroponic farming. Here there is a constant flow of nutrients. The nutrient solution pours into the plant container by a tube. The solution pours over the roots of the plants and then drains back into the water tank. The system uses air as a growing medium. This cuts down the expense of replacing the growing medium after every crop.
The difficulty of power outages and pump failures is common in this system. The roots get dry and damage the plants.
This method is an innovative technique. The growing medium is air. The roots hang in the air drizzling with nutrient solution. As the roots get air exposure, the nutrient solution drizzling is a must in every few minutes. It uses 95% less water and zero pesticides. A timer manages the nutrient pump. The containment system is necessary to protect the roots from exposure to the light.
The clogging issues are worst in aeroponics. The systems use electrical power to pump water and plants are set up with high energy grow lights. If any power issue generates, it will damage the plants.