Hydroponics refers to the art of gardening with no soil. Hydroponics is derived from Latin and means “working water”. Without soil, water works to supply nutrients, hydration, oxygen and other vital elements for the life of plants. The careful regime of hydroponics can make plants thrive from watermelons, jalapenos and orchids. Hydroponic gardening takes up little space, uses 90 percent less water than conventional agriculture, and is able to produce beautiful fruits & flowers in half of the time.
Although the technology may sound cutting-edge Hydroponics’ history is rooted in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was channelized into channels that swam through the extravagant garden walls. Marco Polo described floating gardens in China in the 13th century. Hydroponics isn’t a brand modern technology. NASA developed aeroponic beans to seed seeds for space agriculture. Hydroponics is a dynamic and long-lasting method of water conservation and crop production.
What exactly is hydroponics?
Hydroponics Hydroponics is the process of cultivating of plants with water without soil. Inert media is used to cultivate hydroponic herbs, plants and veggies. They are then supplied with nutrients, oxygen, water, and other media for growth. This method encourages rapid growth, higher yields, and higher quality. Plants are grown in soil. The roots of the plant constantly seek out nutrients to sustain them. When a plant’s root system is directly exposed to nutrition and water it doesn’t have to expend any energy in sustaining itself. You can redirect the energy that roots used for getting water or food into the plant’s maturation. Foliage growth is encouraged as are the fruiting and flowering of flowers.
Photosynthesis is the process by which plants can sustain themselves. Chlorophyll is a green pigment in plants that captures sunlight. They make use of light’s energy to the breaking down of water molecules that they’ve taken through their root system. Hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide and produce carbohydrates, which plants need to sustain themselves. Oxygen is then released into the air, a crucial factor in preserving our planet’s habitability. Plants that photosynthesize do not need soil. They require soil to replenish their water and nutrients. When nutrients are dissolved in water they can be directly applied to the root system of the plant by flooding, misting, or immersion. The hydroponic innovation has shown that direct exposure to nutrient rich water is more effective and flexible than traditional irrigation.
What does hydroponics look like?
The hydroponic system allows for precise control of the surrounding conditions, including temperature as well as PH balance. It also maximizes the amount of nutrients that are available to. The principle behind hydroponics is simple. It gives plants exactly what and when they need it. Hydroponics administer nutrients tailored to the needs of the particular plant being grown. They can be used to alter the amount of light that plants receive, and how long. You can adjust pH levels. Plant growth can accelerate in a controlled, highly customized setting.
A variety of risk factors can be reduced through controlling the plant’s environment. Many variables can negatively affect the health and growth of plants that are grown in gardens and fields. Plants can be infected by fungi that cause soil damage. Your garden can be purged by animals like rabbits. Locusts and other pests can descend upon crops, and then eat the plants in the afternoon. Hydroponic systems end the unpredictability of cultivating plants outside and in the soil. Seedlings will mature much quicker if they’re not subject to the mechanical resistance of soil. Through the elimination of pesticides, hydroponics produce much better-quality and healthier fruit and vegetables. Plants can grow quickly and vigorously without any obstacles.
What are the elements of a hydroponic system?
To maintain a flourishing hydroponic system, you will be required to know the components that help hydroponics run smoothly.
Inert media, which help anchor the root structure and support the plant’s weight, are commonly used in hydroponic plants. Growing media is a substitute for soil, however, it does not provide any independent nutrition for the plant. Instead, this porous medium holds nutrients in the solution and delivers these nutrients to the plant. A lot of the media used for growing are pH-neutral so they won’t alter the ratio of nutrients. There are a variety of media available. The particular hydroponic system and the plant will determine which media is best suited to your requirements. Hydroponic gardening media is readily available in local nurseries and garden stores and online.
Air pumps and stones
The plants that are submerged in water can quickly drown if the water is not sufficiently oxygenated. Airstones release tiny bubbles of oxygen throughout the nutrient solution reservoir. These bubbles also distribute the dissolved nutrition evenly. Air stones don’t generate oxygen themselves. They need to be connected to an external water pump via transparent tubing made of plastic. The opaque will prevent algae from growing. The most commonly used components for aquariums are air pumps as well as stones. They are available at pet stores.
Net pots are mesh plantsers that house hydroponic plants. The latticed material allows roots to grow out of the sides and bottom of the pot, allowing greater exposure to oxygen and nutrients. Net pots are better for drainage than plastic or clay pots.
What are the six types of hydroponic systems?
There are a myriad of hydroponic methods, but they all come from six basic hydroponic systems.
1. Systems for deep-water culture
Hydroponics are plants that are suspended in aerated water. DWC systems are among the most popular and simplest way to grow hydroponics. DWC systems are made up of net pots with plants, which are positioned in a large reservoir of oxygen-rich nutrients. The solution keeps the roots of plants hydrated and gives them constant access to water, nutrients and oxygen. Deep water cultivation is considered the purest form for hydroponics.
The proper water oxygenation process, which is crucial to the life of the plant is essential because the root system can be suspended in water at any moment. The plant will die if it doesn’t get enough oxygen. For oxygenation of the whole system, connect an airstone to an air pump to the reservoir. The bubbles from the air stone will also help circulate the nutrient solution.
It is easy to put together an advanced deep-water culture system at your classroom or at home using minimal hydroponics equipment. To house the pots that are net, you can make use of an old aquarium or a clean bucket to hold the solution. DWC systems should not allow roots to be submerged in the solution. It is not allowed to submerge stems or vegetation. It is possible to keep approximately one inch and a quarter of the roots above the waterline. The air bubbles will break off the surface and splash down onto the exposed roots, so they will not be in danger of drying out.
What are the advantages of deep-water culture systems?
- Low maintenance: After a DWC system is set up, it’s extremely easy to maintain. Fill the nutrient solution as necessary, and make sure that the pump is pumping oxygen to your air stone. It is usually not necessary to replenish the nutrient solution once every two weeks. But, this can depend on the dimensions of the plants.
- DIY appeal: Deepwater culture systems have the benefit of being simple to construct, unlike many hydroponic system. You only need to go to your local nursery or pet shop to buy the air pump and nutrients.
What are the disadvantages of deep-water culture systems?
- Restrictions: Deep-water culture systems are excellent for growing lettuce and herbs but struggle to grow bigger and more slow-growing plants. DWC systems are not suitable for growing flowers. However, you can cultivate bell peppers, tomatoes and squash in the DWC with a bit of work.
- Control of temperature It is essential that your water solution doesn’t exceed 68°F and not be below 60°F. DWC systems have water that is not recirculating and it is therefore more difficult to regulate the temperature.
2. Wick systems
The wicking system is where plants are planted in growing media, then placed over a container. This reservoir holds water with minerals that are dissolved. Wicks move from the reservoir to the growing tray. The flow of water and nutrients flows through the Wick before flowing into the growing media. Wicks can be constructed of material as simple as string, rope or even felt. This is the easiest method of hydroponics. Wick systems are passive hydroponics – meaning they don’t require pumps or other mechanical components to function. This makes them perfect for situations in which electricity is not reliable or not available.
The capillary action process is the reason the wick systems function. The wick absorbs water it’s immersed in like a sponge and when it comes in contact with the porous Grow Bags media, it releases the solution of nutrients. Wick system hydroponics can only be effective when it is accompanied by a growing medium which can facilitate nutrient and water transference. Coco coir (fibers formed from the coconut’s outer husks) retains a lot of moisture and is pH neutral. Perlite, which is extremely porous and pH neutral, makes it ideal for wicking. Vermiculite is extremely porous structure, and also a great capacity for exchange of cations. It can also conserve nutrients for later use. These three growing media are the most suitable for hydroponic wick systems.
Wick systems are quite slow compared to other hydroponic systems, which does limit what is practical to grow with these systems. Make sure you have at minimum one wick in every growing tray. These wicks should be placed near the root system of the plant. Although wicks can be used with aeration, many users add an air stone or pump to the reservoir of their wick system. This adds extra oxygenation to the hydroponics system.
What are the benefits of a wick system for your company?
- Simplicity: A wick system can be set-up by anyone and does not demand excessive attention after it is operating. The wicks will constantly provide your plants with water which means there’s no chance that they will dry out. Plants such as lettuce thrive in the one-way wick system. This will ensure an excellent return on your hands-free investment.
- Space-efficientWick Systems are not noticeable and can be set up anywhere, seeing as they don’t require electricity to operate. It is a perfect system for teachers, novices or anyone interested in exploring hydroponics.
What is the downside to Wick systems?
- LimitationsLettuce (and herbs like rosemary and mint) are quick-growing and don’t require large amounts of water. On the other hand, will struggle to thrive in a wick system due to of their high demand for nutrients and hydration. Others plants will not thrive in an environment that is always moist. A wick system won’t allow root vegetables such as carrots or turnips to thrive.
- Highly susceptible to Rot. The hydroponics wick system is constantly moist and humid. This increases the chance that fungal outbreaks or rot could occur in the organic growth media as well as on the roots of your plants.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
Systems using the Nutrient Film Technology (NFT), suspend plants over a continuous flow of nutrients. The solution is washed across the root systems. The channels holding plants are tilted, permitting water to flow down the length of the tray before it drains to the reservoir beneath. The reservoir then gets aerated by an airstone. A submersible pump then pumps the water that is rich in nutrients out of the reservoir and back to the top of the channel. Recirculating hydroponic systems employ the technique of nutrient-film.
NFT systems differ from deep water culture hydroponics. The roots of NFT systems aren’t immersed into water. Instead the stream (or film) flows over the roots’ ends. The roots’ tips will bring moisture to the plant, while the root system that is open has plenty of oxygen. The bottoms of the channels are sloping, which means that the shallow film can pass over the root tips with ease. This prevents water from pooling on the root system or damming it.
It is essential to empty the reservoir each week, and refill the nutrient solution. This ensures your plants receive ample nutrition. NFT channels should be angled at an angle that is gradual. If the slope is too steep, water will flow down the channel without properly feeding the plants. If too much water is being transported into the channel, it will overflow and plants could drown. NFT hydroponics can support many plants per channel, and they are easy to mass-produce. Systems that use nutrients films are ideal for lighter plants such as lettuce, spinach and tomatoes, as well as strawberries and mustard greens. To support larger fruiting plants like tomatoes and cucumbers Trellises are required.
What are the advantages to the use of a nutrient film?
- Low water consumption: Because NFT hydroponics circulate water, they don’t require huge amounts of water or nutrients in order to function. It’s also less difficult for salts build up on the plant’s roots because of the constant flow. Nutrient film technology systems don’t require the growth of media. It is possible to reduce the cost of buying media and the hassle of replacing it.
- Modular Design Nutrient Film Technique Systems are ideal for large-scale commercial ventures. Once a channel is set up and operational, it’s easy to expand it. Multiple channels are possible to fill your greenhouse, each supporting different plants. It is recommended for each channel to have its own separate reservoir. It’s unlikely to stop all of the operation if the pump malfunctions or a disease is transmitted to the water.
What are the disadvantages of the nutrient-film method?
- Pump failure Your plants will be dry if the pump ceases functioning and the channel fails to circulate the nutrients in the films. If you don’t have water the entire crop could die within a matter of hours. An NFT hydroponic system requires constant monitoring. It is important to be attentive when monitoring the efficiency of your pump.
- Overcrowding: If the plants are spaced too close together or the root growth is too proliferate, the channel can become clogged. Roots can block the flow of water, causing your plants to become starved. This is especially relevant to plants at the bottom of the channel. Take into consideration removing plants from the bottom of the channel, or shifting them to a smaller channel if they seem to be performing poorly.
4. Systems of ebb and flow
By flooding the growing bed below with a nutrient solution Ebb and flow hydroponics is performed. The reservoir’s submersible pump comes with an alarm clock. When the timer starts, the pump will fill the growing bed with water and nutrients. When the timer stops, gravity slowly drains the water from the grow bed and flushes it back into the reservoir. A overflow tube is installed in the system to stop flooding from exceeding the limit which could cause damage to fruits and the stalks of the plant. An ebb & flow system is not so dependent on water. The plants absorb the nutrients via their roots, even when the growing bed is continuously being flooded. The roots become dry after the water has receded and the bed becomes empty. The dry roots then oxygenate during the time before the next flood. The length of interval between floods is determined by the dimensions of your garden bed as well as the size of your plants.
One of the most common hydroponic gardening methods is the ebb and flow system (also known as flood and drain). The high levels of oxygen and nutrition the plants are supplied with allows for rapid and rapid growth. The flow and ebb system is easily customizable and versatile. The grow bed can be filled using a variety of net pots, as well as different vegetables and fruits. The ebb & flow system offers more options than other hydroponics system. You can play around with your plant, media, and media.
Ebb and flow systems are capable of accommodating nearly all kinds of plants. Your grow tray’s size and depth are the main drawbacks. Root vegetables need more space than strawberries and lettuce. Popular ebb-flow crops include peas, tomatoes and beans, as along with cucumbers, carrots and peppers. You can attach trellises directly to the grow bed. The most widely used growing media in hydroponics with ebb flow include “Grow Rocks” and “Grow Pebbles” (hydroton). They are light and washable, they can be reused and re-used. They drain as efficiently. This is a crucial feature in ebb and flow systems.
What are the advantages of an ebb-flow system?
- Flexibility You can grow larger plants in an ebb-and-flow system than with other systems for hydroponics. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables alike respond very well to flow and ebb hydroponics. You can expect a huge harvest if you take care to provide your plants with the proper size grow bed, nutrition, and other necessary items.
- DIY appeal: You could make your own ebb flow hydroponic systems at home in hundreds of different ways. An easy way to get all the materials you need for an ebb/flow system is to visit the pet and hardware stores. Although they are more costly to set up than other DIY methods like wick or deep water culture, ebb and flow systems support a greater range of plant life than they can.
What are the drawbacks of an ebb and flow system?
- Pump Failure As with any system of hydroponics that depends on a pump to function in the event that the pump ceases working, your plants will be in chaos. To ensure your plants’ health and well-being, you should be aware of the flow as well as the ebb of water. If water is rushing in and out too fast, your plants will not receive an adequate amount of water and nutrients.
- Rot and disease:Sanitation, maintenance and inspection are essential for an ebb/flow system. Root diseases and rot can develop if the bed isn’t draining properly. A dirty ebb-flow system could draw in insects and cause mold to grow. You can cause damage to your plants if you don’t keep your environment clean. Certain plants aren’t able to respond to rapid pH changes that can occur from extreme flooding and drainage.
5. Drip systems
In the hydroponic drip system the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir is pumped through a series of tubes to the individual plants. The solution is slowly dripped into the soil around the root system, keeping the plants well-nourished and moist. Drip systems are popular hydroponics methods, especially for commercial growers. Drip systems are available for both individual plants and large-scale irrigation.
There are two types of drip system hydroponics. The most well-known recovery method is designed for small farmers in the home. This means that excess water is drained out of the grow bed and recirculated to the reservoir. The water that is not removed out of the media before going to the drain. This method is preferred by commercial growers. Though non-recovery drip systems can appear to be a waste, large-scale growers are very conservative with water usage. The drip systems are created solely to provide the quantity of solution needed to keep the growth media surrounding the plant hydrated. Non-recovery drip systems use complex timers that reduce waste.
The plants that are grown in a drip plant system need to be sensitive to changes in the pH of the nutrient solution. This is the case for any system in which wastewater is re-circulated into the reservoir. The solution is depleted by plants, which will also alter the pH balance. Thus the grower will require more monitoring and adjustments to the solution reservoir than in a system that is not recovering. Additionally, the growing media may be excessively rich in nutrients and will need to be changed regularly.
What are the benefits of drip systems?
- Variety of plant choices: A drip system can accommodate plants that are larger than other systems for hydroponics. Commercial growers are enthralled by this system. Melons, pumpkins, onions and zucchinis can all be well supported by a correctly designed drip system. Drip systems contain higher quantities of growing media than other system, allowing them to accommodate bigger root systems. Drip systems are best suited to slow draining media such as coco coir, rockwool and peat moss.
- Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operations are easily supported with drip systems. Growers can connect new tubing to the reservoir in order to accommodate additional plants. An existing drip system can be updated with new crops. This is another reason drip systems have become so well-liked for commercial hydroponics.
What are the drawbacks of drip systems?
- MaintenanceIf you are growing plants using a non-recovery drip system at home, there is a significant amount of maintenance involved. It is essential to keep track of the pH and nutrient levels of the solution. You will need to drain and replace if necessary. It is possible for the lines of recovery systems to become clogged from dirt or plant matter. Therefore, you need to clean and flush the lines frequently.
- ComplexityDrip systems are easy to create complicated and complex. This is not a problem for professionals in hydroponics, but it is not the best system for home growers. It is possible to use simpler systems like the ebb-flow system for hydroponics at home.
Aeroponics systems suspend the plants suspended in the air and expose them to a nutrient-filled mist. Aeroponics systems use enclosed structures, such as towers or cubes that can hold a variety of plants at once. A reservoir is used to store nutrients and water. Next, the solution is then pumped into a pump that disperses it in fine mist. The mist is typically discharged from the top of the tower allowing it to cascade through the chamber. Certain aeroponics spray continuously the roots of plants, similar to NFT systems which expose them to film of nutrient constantly. Others function more like the flow and ebb system, spraying roots with mist at intervals. Aeroponics requires no substrate media to survive. Since they are continuously exposed to oxygen, their roots can absorb oxygen in a fast rate and then grow.
Aeroponics systems use less water than other type of hydroponics. Aeroponics uses 95% less water than an irrigated crop. Vertical gardens Because their vertical design takes up little space, they can accommodate several towers to be placed in the same place. Aeroponics produces high yields and can be achieved even in confined areas. Aeroponic plants are also more efficient than hydroponically grown plants since they have a higher oxygen supply.
Aeroponics allows for easy harvesting year-round. Vine plants and nightshades such as bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants all thrive in an aeroponic environment. You will also find baby greens and herbs, along with watermelons, strawberries, ginger, watermelons, and lettuce all flourishing in an aeroponic setting. Obstacles are too heavy and bulky to be grown aeroponically. Plants that have deep root systems like potatoes and carrots can also not be grown.