Plants convert light energy into chemical energy through the process of Photosynthesis. They need light, water, CO2, and certain minerals. Plants get water and nutrients that are important for growth in the soil. In 1860, Von Sachs, a German botanist, showed that plants can grow without soil if they are given a nutritious solution and meet their oxygen needs. This process of planting plants without soil is known as hydroponics. It may sound strange to grow plants without soil but there are many plants like tomatoes that are already grown hydroponic.
Soil is an important source of nutrients and minerals for growing plants. Also, it has a responsibility to facilitate the exchange of gas between the atmosphere and roots and helps to protect plants from erosion, and facilitate water retention. However, this article discusses a system – hydroponics, in which plants can be grown without soil. Read on to find out what hydroponics is and get important information about it.
What is Hydroponics?
The definition of hydroponics is the cultivation of plants in water. It is part of hydroculture and is a useful way to grow plants without soil.
In this way, the roots absorb the nutrients that are present in the water and meet their growth requirements. In addition, in this way, one can plant plants in liquid, sand, or desert by simply adding certain nutrients to them.
In recent years, hydroponics has gained momentum in the field of commercial production and horticulture. Similarly, urban dwellers use this approach to grow new crops in and around the home.
In hydroponics, the process of photosynthesis is expressed by:
Carbon dioxide + Water = Glucose + Oxygen
6CO2 + 6H2O = C6H12O6 + 6O2
Some of the most common examples of hydroponics include – the production of artichokes, shoots, cabbage, peas, onions, tomatoes, and yams.
Fact: The word Hydroponics is derived from ‘hydros’ and ‘ponos’ which is translated into Greek as ‘water performance’.
Types of Hydroponics Systems
Here are the different types of hydroponics systems.
Wick System: In this system, nutrients are pumped into the pond and transferred to the roots of plants through the capillary movement of the wick.
Ebb and Flow: Also called the flood system and drain and is usually automatic with a timer. The growth tray is filled with nutrient solution and then released backward.
Water Culture: Plants are stored in net pots and placed on a floating platform over a container of water and nutrients. To facilitate growth and development, the established roots are extended to an oxygen solution, which is rich in nutrients.
Drip System Discovery: In this setting, nutrient solutions are pumped through a tube and dropped to the roots by suction lines.
Apart from this, the nutritional film process and the aeroponic system are also popular types of hydroponics systems.
Benefits of Hydroponics
The following benefits make the use of hydroponics possible and effective –
- High yield.
- Controlled level of nutrition.
- Plants are healthier, and they ripen faster.
- Weeds can be easily eradicated.
- Infestation with pests and diseases is minimal.
- Default is possible.
- The water in the system can be reused, making it easier to conserve water.
- Harvest easily.
- The plants produced are ready for use.
- A small production area can be successfully rehabilitated.
- Regardless of its benefits and uses, hydroponics has its share of disadvantages as well. Read below for more information on hydroponics and its outstanding problems.
Here are the most common hydroponics problems –
- Initial investment costs.
- The need for technical knowledge.
- The process is usually careful and time-consuming.
- Only certain soluble nutrients are used.
- The recirculation system is usually infected with water.
Can Hydroponic efforts towards agriculture be predictable and seasonal?
Farmers need to deal with unpredictable and unexpected weather problems that could lead to the extinction of the entire crop in a few days. Floods, fires, droughts, pest problems, etc. it is a fact of nature and can happen anytime and anywhere. And when the food crop is in dire straits, it can have a detrimental effect on the whole food chain.
In a hydroponic greenhouse, conditions are controlled by the farmer. This means you can plant your strawberries and harvest them in the winter. And when a swarm of locusts arrives, the tropical area will protect your precious plants from damage, no matter how many invaders enter the nearby fields. For farmers, this means the ability to enter into long-term contracts for stores with fixed prices. And they will be sure to deliver, no matter what.
Does Hydroponics Help Generate High-Quality Foods?
With traditional farming, the answer has been to pick up the unripe product and let it ripen where it is stored and in the supply chain. In some cases, ethylene gas is used for the automatic maturation of pre-selected foods. This is necessary if the plants grown traditionally will reach consumers in remote areas.
Natural, plant-based foods are often more nutritious and taste better. Because hydroponic gardens contain their own microbiomes, these plants can be grown anywhere. This means they can be selected at maturity as they do not have to travel long distances before arriving at their homes and restaurants to enjoy themselves.
Key considerations in Hydroponics
While you can grow almost anything with hydroponics, some vegetables grow better in hydroponic systems than others. Choose plants that are resistant to moisture and do not grow well in their composition, such as cucumber, tomato, capsicum, strawberries, lettuce, and leafy vegetables.
Also, when establishing a hydroponic garden, depending on the size, strength, and development of plant roots to grow and system structure, one needs to decide whether to use only a solution culture or a specific type of growth.
Also read: Cytoskeleton
1. What Does Hydroponic Mean?
Ans: In simple terms, hydroponic is a method of growing plants without soil. It is part of hydroculture, which uses mineral nutrients to grow plants such as peas, artichokes, cucumbers, onions, radishes, leeks, etc. Hydroponics is simply the growth of plants without soil. Plants also need light, water, carbon dioxide, and oxygen in the root zone. In hydroponics, plants are grown in inactive areas such as rock or coco coir fibre and are fed a solution that contains a complete mixture of basic, secondary, and micro-nutrients.
2. What Is the Importance of Hydroponics?
Ans: Hydroponics helps to increase crop production even in areas where the soil is barren. Also, the plants produced are healthy and not susceptible to pests and diseases. Similarly, hydroponics helps to use small areas effectively in agriculture. Recently, I have had endless arguments with a few friends about hydroponics. They believe that hydroponics should not be as important as other growth methods because of its limited size. Therefore, I decided to make a list of the most important hydroponic features that could change the world.
- Plants That Grow in Any Climate
- Use of Low Pesticides
- High Food Production
- Water Efficiency
- Direct Farming
- Solving World Hunger
3. What Are the Benefits of Hydroponics?
Ans: Benefits include increased crop yields, better and faster yields, and easier planting.
Increase Space – Hydroponics requires much less space than plants planted in the ground. Depending on the system, when hydroponics is combined with specific farming techniques, it can use a few 99 percent of the fields in addition to conventional farming methods.
Water Conservation – Hydroponic plants can grow up to 98 percent more water than traditional growing methods.
Medium Weather – Hydroponic gardens can easily be found inside the hydroponic greenhouse. This means that they can have their own climatic conditions, trapped in the many difficulties that traditional farmers have to work to cope with.
Produces Great Harvesting – Creating favourable conditions ensures that plants get the right amount of nutrients, which comes in direct contact with the roots.