Hydroponics means the science and art of gardening without soil. Hydroponics is derived from Latin and translates to “working water”. Without soil, water functions to supply nutrients, hydration, oxygen, and other essential elements for plant life. Hydroponics is a technique that allows plants to flourish, from watermelons to jalapenos and orchids. Hydroponic gardens need a small amount of area and require 90 percent less water than traditional farming. They also produce stunning flowers, beautiful fruits and vegetables in a fraction of the time.
Although hydroponics sounds modern, the history of hydroponics goes back to the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates River was channelized to channels that ran along the walls of the garden. In the 13th century, Marco Polo wrote of seeing floating gardens in China. Hydroponics isn’t a brand new technology. NASA began cultivating aeroponic beans on a space station in 1990. This allowed for the possibility of space-based sustainable agriculture. Hydroponics continues to be a timeless and dynamic method for water conservation and cultivation of crops.
What is hydroponics and how does it work?
Hydroponics Hydroponics is the cultivation and care of plants with no use of soil. The hydroponic plants are herbs, vegetables, and even flowers. The media is comprised of an inert growth medium that is supplied with oxygen, nutrients, and water. This method promotes rapid growth, stronger yields, and superior quality. When a plant is cultivated in soil, its roots will constantly be searching for the essential nutrients they require to flourish. A plant’s roots can be directly exposed to nutrients and water, meaning it doesn’t have to use any energy to sustain itself. The energy the roots would have expended acquiring food and water can be redirected into the plant’s maturation. This results in leaf growth thrives, as well as the blooming of fruit or flowers.
Photosynthesis is a method plants use to sustain themselves. The green pigment chlorophyll that is found on the leaves of plants absorbs sunlight. They use light’s energy for the splitting of water molecules they’ve absorbed through their root systems. The hydrogen molecules react with carbon dioxide and create carbohydrates that plants require to survive. The atmosphere then gets filled by oxygen, which is essential for maintaining our planet’s habitability. To photosynthesize, plants don’t need soil. The soil is the only thing plants require to get water and nutrients. If nutrients are dissolving into water, they may be applied directly to the plant’s roots by flooding or misting. Hydroponic innovations have proven direct exposure to nutrient-filled water can be an effective and flexible way to grow over traditional irrigation.
How does hydroponics operate?
The hydroponic system allows for fine control of the environment, such as temperature as well as PH balance. It also maximizes the amount of nutrients that are available to. The concept of hydroponics is based upon the principle of giving plants what they require, when they need it. Hydroponics administer nutrients tailored to the needs of the particular plant being grown. They are able to alter the amount of light that plants get, as well as the length of time they stay. The pH can be controlled and adjusted. Plant growth can accelerate in a controlled, highly customized environment.
A variety of risk factors can be reduced by controlling the conditions that the plant is grown. Plants that are grown in fields and gardens are exposed to a variety of factors that can negatively affect their health and growth. The spread of disease can be carried by plants. Wildlife like rabbits can plunder the ripe vegetables in your garden. Crop pests such as locusts can be capable of taking out crops within a couple of hours. Hydroponic systems can stop the unpredictability growth of plants outdoors or in the soil. Seedlings mature quicker if they’re not subject to the mechanical resistance of soil. Hydroponics produces healthier, better-quality fruits and vegetables by removing pesticides. Without obstructions, plants are able to grow vigorously and rapidly.
What are the components of a hydroponics system?
A few key components are necessary to ensure a successful hydroponic system.
Media that is growing
Inert media, which anchor the root structure and support the plant’s weight, is commonly used in hydroponic plants. Although it is an alternative to soil, the media doesn’t provide nutrients to the plant. Instead, the porous media keeps the moisture and nutrients in the nutrient solution that it then provides to the plants. Many growing media are also pH neutral, meaning that they will not alter the balance of your nutrient solutions. There are many different media available. Your hydroponic plant and system will determine which media is the best fit for your needs. Hydroponic gardening media is readily available both online and at local nurseries and gardening stores.
Air pumps and stones
Plants can drown quickly when immersed in water. Airstones produce tiny bubbles that contain dissolved oxygen in your reservoir of nutrients. They help distribute dissolved nutrients evenly in the solution. Air stones are unable to create oxygen on their own. They need to be connected to an external water pump by opaque plastic tubing. The opaque will prevent algae from growing. These are extremely well-liked in aquariums and are readily purchased from pet stores.
Net pots are mesh planters which contain hydroponic plants. Since the latticed material permits roots to grow from the sides and bottom, it provides more nutrients and oxygen. Net pots are better for drainage than plastic or clay pots.
What six types of hydroponic system are there?
There are many hydroponic methods. But, they are all variations or combinations of six basic hydroponic system.
1. Systems to cultivate deep water
Hydroponics are plants suspended in an aerated environment. DWC systems, also referred to as deep water culture are among the most well-known types of hydroponics. DWC systems have net pots which allow plants to be suspended above an oxygen-rich reservoir. The solution helps keep the roots of plants well-hydrated and provides them with constant access to water, nutrients, and oxygen. Deep water culture is considered as the purest type of hydroponics.
Since the root system of the plant is always suspended in water, oxygenation of the water is essential for the plant’s health. The plant can be dead if it isn’t getting enough oxygen. The reservoir must be fitted with an air pump that can supply oxygen to all parts of it. The nutrient solution will also circulate thanks to the bubbles created by the air stone.
It’s simple to put the deep water cultivation system at home, or in a class. An old or a bucket could be used to store the solution. To house the containers on nets, put an edifice that is floating, such as styrofoam on top. DWC systems are made to keep the plant’s roots immersed in the solution. It is not permitted to submerge vegetation or stems. The roots should be kept at a minimum of 1 inch and a half over the surface of the water. The air bubbles will pop out of the water and spill onto the exposed roots, so they will not be in danger of drying out.
What are the advantages of deep water culture systems
- Easy maintenance: Once you have your DWC system is in place it is not necessary to perform any maintenance. It’s enough to replenish the nutrient solutions as necessary and make sure that the pump is supplying oxygen to the air stone. The nutrient solution usually needs replenishing every 2-3 weeks, but this does depend on the size of your plant.
- DIY appeal: Deepwater culture systems have the benefit of being simple to construct unlike other hydroponic systems. You only need to go to your local pet or nursery shop to purchase the air pump as well as other nutrients.
What are the disadvantages of deep water culture systems?
- limitations: Deep water culture systems are adept at growing herbs and lettuce but they struggle with bigger and slower-growing plants. DWC systems aren’t suitable for any plant that blooms. However, you can cultivate bell peppers, tomatoes, and squash in the DWC with a little bit of work.
- Control of temperature It is important to ensure that the temperature of your water solution not exceeds 68°F or falls below 60°F. DWC systems are static, meaning that the water isn’t circulating. This makes it more difficult to regulate the temperature.
2. Wick systems
In a wick-based system, plants are nestled in growing media on the tray which is placed on the top of a reservoir. This reservoir houses an aqueous solution that contains dissolved nutrients. Wicks move through the reservoir and into the tray for growing. The wick is then flooded with nutrients and water that then cover the soil around the roots of the plants. Wicks can be constructed from as little as rope, string or even felt. The hydroponics system that uses wick systems is the simplest kind. Wick systems are passive hydroponics. They do not require mechanical components like pumps to operate. It’s ideal for areas in which electricity is not readily available or not reliable.
The way the wicks function is known as capillary effect. The wick absorbs water and then transfers the nutrients to the media. Wick system hydroponics only work if accompanied by growing media which can aid in the transfer of water and nutrients. Coco coir (fibers formed from the outer husks or coconuts) has great moisture retention and is pH neutral. Perlite is pH neutral, and extremely porous, which makes it perfect for wicking systems. Vermiculite is extremely porous, also has a high percentage of cation exchange. This means it is able to store nutrients for later uses. The growing media are perfect 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. Be sure to have at minimum one wick in every growing tray. These wicks should be placed close to the roots of the plant. Though capable of functioning through aeration, many do choose to add an air stone or air pump to the wick system’s reservoir. This improves the level of oxygenation in the hydroponics setup.
What are some of the advantages of using a wicking system for your company?
- Simple: A wick system can be installed by anyone, and doesn’t require a lot of attention once it is running. Your plants will never be dry because the wicks provide water all the time. Wick systems allow plants such as lettuce to thrive, which can provide a great return for your investment.
- Space-efficientWick Systems are compact and easy to install anyplace. They don’t need power to operate. It’s a great system for teachers, novices or anyone interested in exploring hydroponics.
What are the pros and cons of wick systems.
- The limitationsLettuce or other herbs like mint, rosemary, and basil are fast-growing and don’t require much water. On contrary, struggle to thrive in a wick system due to of their high requirement for nutrients and water. Others plants will not thrive in a climate that is always humid. Wick systems can destroy root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and other root veggies.
- Susceptible to rot:A hydroponic wick is always humid and damp. This creates the risk that fungal outbreaks and rot can develop in the organic growing media as well as on the roots of your plants.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a method of suspending plants over the stream, which constantly flows the nutrient solution. The water is then cleaned across the root. The channels holding the plants are tilted so that water to flow down all the way down their grow tray, before it drains into the reservoir below. The water in the reservoir is treated by using an air stone. Submersible pumps then pump the water that is rich in nutrients out of the reservoir, and back up to the upper part of the channel. Recirculating hydroponics is the technique of nutrient film.
An NFT system is not similar to deep water hydroponics. The roots of plants are not immersed in water. Instead the water stream (or “film”) is flowing just at the end and not through the roots. The roots’ tips will absorb moisture into the plant and the root system that is exposed receives plenty of oxygen. The channels’ bottoms are grooved to allow the film to easily pass through the tips of the roots. This stops water from getting into the channels and causing dams on the root systems.
It is important to drain the reservoir every week, and refill the nutrient solution. This will ensure that your plants are getting enough nutrition. NFT channels need to be placed with an upward slope. The water will not nourish the plants if it is not steep enough. If too much water is being transported into the channel, it will overflow and plants could drown. NFT hydroponics is a popular commercial method because it can support several plants in a channel and is quickly mass-produced. Systems that use nutrient films are best for lighter plants such as lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, and mustard greens. For larger fruiting plants like tomatoes or cucumbers you’ll need trellises to support their weight.
What are the benefits of using films containing nutrients?
- Low consumption: Since NFT hydroponics recirculate the water they don’t require huge amounts of nutrients or water to function. Because the water flows continuously, salts cannot build up over the root system. Nutrient film technology systems don’t require growing media. You can save money on buying media and the hassle of changing it.
- Modular Design Nutrient Film Technique Systems are great for large-scale commercial ventures. Once a channel is in place and operational, it’s simple to expand. It is possible to fill your greenhouse with several channels that support different crops. Each channel should have its own reservoir. You won’t lose the entire operation if the pump malfunctions or a disease is transmitted to the water.
What are the disadvantages of a nutrient-film technique system?
- A pump failure: When the channel ceases to transmit the nutrient film to the pump, the plants will become dry. If your crop is not receiving enough water, it could end up dying within a few hours. It is essential to keep an eye on the performance of your NFT hydroponics system. You’ll need to pay attention to the operation of each pump.
- Overcrowding occurs when plants are placed too closely to each other, or when the growth of roots becomes too prolific and causes the channel to become clogged. If the channel becomes blocked by roots, water will be unable to flow and your plants will starve. This is particularly relevant to plants that are located in the bottom. If you find that the plants on the bottom are performing lower than the rest of the channel, you should taking a look at removing them or changing to a smaller unit.
4. Ebb- and flow systems
By flooding a growing area below using a nutrient solution, ebb and flow hydroponics works. A timer is installed inside the submersible pumps in the reservoir. The timer will start when the pump fills with nutrients and water. The timer will end and gravity will slowly remove the water from the grow bed, before flushing it back into the reservoir. To ensure that the water doesn’t exceed a certain level, the overflow tube protects the plant’s fruit and stalks. A ebb and flow system isn’t as dependent on water. The plants absorb nutrients via their roots, even when the grow bed is constantly flooded. The roots become dry after the water has receded and the grow bed is empty. The roots that are dry then become oxygenated in the time between floods. The interval between floods is determined by the dimensions of your grow bed as well as the dimensions of the plants.
Hydroponics is one of the most popular methods of hydroponics. The plants get plenty of oxygen, nutrition, and other nutrients that promote rapid growth. The ebb and flow system is easily modified and customized. The growing bed could be filled with different net pots, as well as other vegetables and fruits. Perhaps more than any other system for hydroponics the ebb and flow system allows you to experiment with your plants and the media.
Ebb and flow systems can accommodate nearly every kind of plant. One thing that will limit your options is the size of your grow tray. Root vegetables require a more deep bed than strawberries or lettuce. Ebb and flow plants are popular, including tomatoes, peas beans cucumbers, beans and carrots. You can attach trellises directly onto the growing bed. The most commonly used growing media in ebb flow hydroponics include “Grow Rocks” and “Grow Pebbles” (hydroton). They are simple to clean, reusable and light. This is an essential feature for ebb flow systems.
What are the benefits to an Ebb flow system?
- Flexibility: An ebb flow system lets you grow plants that are larger than other systems for hydroponics. The use of ebb and flow hydroponics are excellent method to cultivate flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Your plants will yield lots of fruits when they have the proper dimensions of the bed and the right the right nutrients.
- DIY appeal: There are hundreds of ways to construct your own hydroponic ebb and flow system at home. A simple way to acquire all the components you require for an ebb/flow system is to go to the hardware and pet stores. Although they are more costly than DIY systems such as deep water culture and wick, these systems can accommodate a wider variety of plants than the other systems.
What are the downsides to an ebb or flow system?
- Pump failure Like any hydroponic system that relies on pumps, if the pump ceases to work, your plants will die. Monitoring your flow system is important to make sure that your plants remain in good health. If water is rushing through and out at a rapid pace, your plants will not get enough nutrition and water.
- Disease and rot:Sanitation and maintenance are essential to an ebb and flow system. Root diseases and rot are often caused due to inadequate drainage. Ebb/flow systems that are dirty could attract pests and cause mold. Neglecting to clean your garden can lead to poor crop yields. Certain plants might not be able cope with the rapid pH change caused by flooding and draining extremes.
5. Drip systems
A hydroponic dripsystem provides a nutrient-rich water solution, aerated through tubes that connect to the individual root systems of plants. The solution is slowly dripped into the root system of each plant. It keeps the plants well-nourished and moist. The most common technique for hydroponics is the drip, particularly for commercial growers. Drip systems can be used for individual plants as well as large-scale irrigation.
There are two types for drip system hydroponics. The most well-known recovery method is designed for small farmers in the their homes. This means that the excess water is drained from the growing bed and then recirculated back to the reservoir. The water that isn’t recovered drains from the media and goes to the dump. This method is much more popular with commercial growers. The non-recovery drips may seem inefficient however large-scale growers are incredibly conservative about water consumption. These drip systems only deliver the amount of water needed to keep the media around plants dampened. Non-recovery drip systems use complex timers that reduce the amount of waste.
The plants that are grown in a drip plant system require you to be aware of variations in pH of the nutrient solution. This is the case for any system with wastewater recirculating into the reservoir. Since plants can deplete the solution’s nutrient and alter its pH balance, growers must alter the pH of the reservoir in order to ensure it is in good shape. This is different from a non-recovery system. Oversaturated growing media can also cause problems, so it is essential to clean and change them frequently.
What are the advantages of drip-systems?
- A wide range of plant options: A drip-system can accommodate larger plants than other hydroponics systems. Commercial growers love this method. A properly-sized drip system can be used to support a variety of plants, including onions, pumpkins, and melons. Drip systems can hold more materials than other types of systems. This allows them to help the root system to grow larger of the plants. Drip systems work best when they are used with slow draining media like rockwool or coco coir.
- Scale: Large-scale hydroponics operation are easily supported with drip systems. New tubing can be connected to the divert or reservoir system to grow additional plants. New plants can be added to the existing drip system since additional reservoirs can be added with different timer schedules that are tailored to fit the needs of the new plants. Drip systems are popular in commercial hydroponics due to this.
What are the drawbacks of a drip system?
- MaintenanceIf your home has a non-recovery system, it will require a lot of care. Monitoring the pH and nutrients of the solution is crucial. If needed the draining and replacement of water will be necessary. The lines for recovery systems can become clogged by debris and plant matter, which is why it is necessary to clean and flush the delivery lines.
- ComplexityDrip Systems can quickly become complicated and complex. This is less relevant for professionals in hydroponics, however it’s not the ideal choice for those who want to grow their own plants at home. There are a variety of simple systems, such as ebb and flow, that lend themselves better to at-home hydroponics.
Aeroponics systems suspend plants in the air, and expose them to nutrient-rich mist. Aeroponics systems are able to house a variety of plants in one enclosed structure, like towers or cubes. The reservoir is used to store the water as well as nutrients. The solution is then pumped through a nozzle, which disperses fine mist. The mist is blown into the chamber after being released from the tower’s top. Certain aeroponics spray continuously the plant’s roots like NFT systems which expose them to the film of nutrient constantly. Some are more similar to the ebb and flow system spraying the roots with mist in intervals. Aeroponics doesn’t require any substrate media to survive. The constant exposure of the roots lets them breathe in oxygen and grows at a much faster pace.
Aeroponics systems require less water than any other kind of hydroponics. Aeroponics requires less water than irrigated fields to cultivate crops. Vertical gardens is designed to use minimal room and allows for numerous towers to be housed in one site. Aeroponics is able to generate high yields even when space is limited. Aeroponic plants can also grow more quickly than hydroponically grown plants because of their higher oxygen intake.
Aeroponics allows you to harvest year-round. Aeroponics can be used to cultivate vines and nightshades (e.g. tomatoes, bell and eggplants) in a controlled setting. Baby greens as well as ginger, watermelons, and strawberries all thrive in an aeroponic setting. Unfortunately, fruiting trees can not be grown in aeroponically because they are too large and heavy.