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Hydropolis » Blog » Hydroponics: What is It, and How Can You Benefit From It
07.07.2022 Autor: Hydropolis

Hydroponics: What is It, and How Can You Benefit From It

Hydropolis » Blog » Hydroponics: What is It, and How Can You Benefit From It
Autor: Hydropolis

Known for centuries, recently, it gained popularity on earth and in space! We speak about hydroponics, one of the three irrigation methods used in vertical farming.

Source: Hydropolis

Hydroponics Origins

It differs from traditional practices in not requiring soil and a significant reduction in water usage. It was as early as 500 B.C. when the king of Babylonia, Nebuchadnezzar II, appreciated the benefits of hydroponics. As a gift for his wife, he commissioned the design of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, now considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! Thanks to the warm climate and access to water from the flowing river, the roots of plants could get everything they needed. That’s how they could transform into lush gardens.

What is Hydroponics?

Unlike conventional growing methods, in hydroponics plants grow without the use of traditional soil or soilless mixes. Is it possible to conduct such farming? Absolutely! To ensure a plant’s healthy growth, when using hydroponic irrigation, you need to provide it with water with nutrients and oxygen. In the hydroponic method, one puts a plant in a growing medium and/or immerses the root in water rich in nutrients. That’s how it gets all the necessary nutrients and can be grown optimally without using the soil.

Growing Without Soil is Possible

Soil allows plants to absorb water and nutrients right to their roots. So how can this element be replaced? In the hydroponic technique, you use an inert growing medium instead. It allows the accumulation of these necessary ingredients and minerals just as good as soil. It also anchors the roots in place and provides support to the plant. They can grow above the water with their roots submerged in it. That’s how they get all needed to grow fast and healthy.

The growing medium can be perlite, coconut fiber, rock wool, expanded clay, or vermiculite. As for the water solution, it should contain oxygen and the most vital minerals. These are macro elements, such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and micro elements such as boron, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, chlorine, and iron. The concentration of these elements should be adjusted to the specific crop to obtain optimal growth conditions.

Hydroponics and Controlled Environment

Hydroponics can be used both outdoors and indoors, e.g., in greenhouses or shipping containers. Obviously, it’s easier to have a year-round outdoor farm in places with mellow climates. But what about regions where the weather makes it impossible to grow all year round? Then indoor hydroponic comes in handy. With certain conditions, such as the right gas and humidity levels and access to natural or artificial lighting, there’s no problem for a plant to have optimal growth. Building an indoor farm allows us to isolate the plants from external factors and the proper system with automation crop software makes it possible to grow any kind of plant species.

Types of Hydroponic Systems

There are six basic types of hydroponic systems. Each of them slightly differs from another and uses alternative solutions. The choice of a method depends on the skill level and technological possibilities. Below we describe what these systems are.

Wick System

Considered to be the most basic and easiest of the hydroponic systems. Most often used by beginners due to its versatility. The plant in a growing medium is above the reservoir. Water

is transferred capillary through a wick line. It goes from the reservoir to the growing medium. The roots remain immersed in a water solution, enriched with nutrients. As a result, they stay nourished and moisturized all the time.

Source: Grow Without Soil

Ebb and Flow System

In this system, the plants are above the water tank. However, the water is provided differently to the plant. A special pump periodically pours it into the tank where the plant roots are. After the plant receives all the water and nutrients, the water flows back down through the drains. All thanks to gravity.

Source: Hydropolis

Deep Water Culture

One of the easiest and cheapest hydroponic growing methods. In this system, plants are placed in a net pot with the substrate. All the time, the crops are floating over a container of nutrients and water. The roots of the plant can develop and expand in a water solution, and the pump constantly oxygenates the water. Thus, the plant is ensured to grow healthy.

Source: Canva

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

The NFT is a closed system in which water is first pumped into the upper channels and then flows down into the reservoir. Plants are placed in sloped, hollow pipes or channels. The water solution is constantly pumped through these channels, which makes it possible to nourish the root systems. There is no need for additional growing mediums, such as vermiculite or rock wool.

Source: Hydropolis

Drip System

This technique uses drip lines and pumps. The water is transferred from the reservoir to the plant that is placed above, in the growing medium. There is a special dispenser next to each plant that allows for precise watering and dosing of nutrients to the roots. The water can be recycled or pumped out.

Source: Dripworks

Aeroponic System

Plant roots are suspended in the air. The nutrient solution is misted onto the plant continuously or at scheduled intervals, depending on plant needs. This is a more advanced technique that requires a piece of specialized equipment.

Source: Oasisgarden

Hydroponics Advantages

Hydroponic farming has many benefits. After all, it gains worldwide popularity in domestic and commercial use for a reason. One can farm with hydroponics anywhere in the world. Crop yields can be higher thanks to no need for traditional soil or help. Farming in a controlled environment allows for minimizing the negative impact of external factors, such as poor soil conditions, environmental pollution, or unfavorable weather conditions.

Another vital advantage of the method is the reduction of fertilizer and water consumption. Contrary to conventional farming, water solution is dosed precisely to the plant roots and only in the required amount. In addition, this water is recycled and can be used throughout the entire growing cycle.

An additional advantage of hydroponics is its easy adaptation to individual needs. Hydroponics allows for growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs and creates fantastic opportunities for growth and expansion.

Can Lettuce Grow on Mars?

NASA has also discovered the benefits of hydroponics. The International Space Station has launched the “Veggie” project. This vegetable venture involves a vegetable production system in the form of a garden located on a space station. It is supposed not only to research the growth of plants in microgravity but also to ensure the well-being of astronauts and enrich their diet during space missions. The vegetable garden is the size of hand luggage and usually houses six plants. In this way, astronauts in space can still enjoy the taste of fresh vegetables.

Hydroponics for Better Environment

The growing interest in hydroponics and newer innovations related to soilless cultivation are a great alternative to traditional farming methods. Reducing the consumption of valuable raw materials is an effective tool in the fight against environmental degradation. It also allows for an increase in the availability of fresh food. It’s hard to disagree with the fact that thanks to its benefit both people on Earth and in space can enjoy its delicious and lush crops!

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