Hydroponics means the science and art of gardening without soil. Hydroponics, Latin meaning “working water” signifies that water supplies oxygen, nutrients, and hydration to plants. Hydroponics ensures that plants flourish in all forms, from jalapenos and watermelons to orchids. With minimal area and 90% less water than conventional agriculture and ingenious designs, hydroponic gardens produce stunning flowers and beautiful fruits in half the time.
Though the technology sounds modern, the history of hydroponics dates back to the famed Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Euphrates river was channelized into channels that ran along the extravagant gardens’ walls. Marco Polo described floating gardens in China in the 13th century. Hydroponics was not just an invention of the ancient ages. NASA started growing aeroponic bean seedlings aboard a space station in the 1990s. This opened up the possibility for sustainable agriculture in space. Hydroponics is a dynamic and timeless method for water conservation and crop production.
What is hydroponics and how does it work?
Hydroponics Hydroponics refers to the cultivation of plants using only water and no soil. Hydroponic flowers, herbs, and vegetables are planted in non-toxic growing media and supplied with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygen, and water. This method promotes faster growth, higher yields, and superior quality. If a plant is cultivated in soil, its roots are perpetually looking for the right nutrients to support the plant. Plants that are provided directly with water and nutrition can sustain themselves without the need for energy. The energy that the roots expended in to acquire food and water could be redirected to the process of maturing. This results in leaf growth that flourishes and blooming of fruit, flowers, and vegetables.
The plants sustain themselves through a process called photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is a green pigment in plants that absorbs sunlight. They make use of the energy of light to break down the water molecules that they’ve taken in via their root system. Hydrogen molecules are paired with carbon dioxide to create carbohydrates that plants utilize to power themselves. Oxygen is then released into the air, a crucial factor in the preservation of our planet’s habitability. To photosynthesize the plant, they don’t require soil. They require soil to supply the nutrients and water. When nutrients are dissolved in water they can be applied directly to the root system of the plant by flooding, misting, or immersion. The hydroponic innovation has shown that exposure directly to nutrients rich water is more efficient and versatile than conventional irrigation.
How does hydroponics operate?
Hydroponic systems allow for the precise control of environmental conditions like temperature as well as pH balance. This allows for the greatest exposure to water, nutrients and other nutrients. Hydroponics follows a simple principle. It provides plants with precisely what they need and when they require it. Hydroponics provides customized nutrition for each particular plant. They let you control exactly how much light the plants receive and how long. You can adjust the pH levels. The growth of plants is increased in highly customized, controlled environments.
By regulating the environment around the plant, many risk factors are reduced. Numerous factors can adversely affect the health and growth of plants grown in fields and gardens. Plants can be infected by soil fungus. Rabbits and other wildlife could eat vegetables that you grow in your garden. Pests that eat crops such as locusts can be capable of destroying crops within a couple of hours. Hydroponic systems can stop the unpredictability growth of plants in the open or in soil. Seedlings mature quicker if they’re not subject to the mechanical resistance of soil. Through the elimination of pesticides, hydroponics produces better-quality and healthier fruits and vegetables. Plants are free to grow vigorously and quickly without any obstacles.
What are the main elements of a hydroponic system?
To maintain a flourishing hydroponic system, you will need to become acquainted with a few components that make hydroponics run smoothly.
Inert media helps the weight of hydroponic plants and anchors their root structure. Growing media is a alternative to soil, but it doesn’t offer any nutritional support for the plant. This porous media instead retains nutrients and moisture from the nutrients and then delivers them to the plant. Many growing media are also pH neutral, which means they will not upset the equilibrium of your nutrition solution. There are a variety of media options. It’s up to the hydroponic system as well as the specific plant species to determine which one you will choose. There are many hydroponic media available online as well as in local nurseries and gardening stores.
Air pumps and air stones
Plants can drown quickly when submerged in water. Airstones release tiny bubbles of oxygen throughout the nutrient solution reservoir. These bubbles help distribute the nutrients that are dissolved evenly throughout the solution. The air stones cannot generate oxygen by themselves. They must be connected to an external oxygen pump using transparent tubing made of food grade plastic. This will prevent algae growth. Air pumps and air stones are popular aquarium components and can be purchased easily in pet stores.
net pots have mesh planters which can be used to hold hydroponic plants. Since the latticed material permits roots growth from the sides and bottom they provide greater access to nutrients and oxygen. Net pots provide better drainage than clay or plastic pots.
What are the six kinds of hydroponic system are there?
There are many different hydroponic techniques. However, all are modifications or combinations of six fundamental hydroponics systems.
1. Systems to cultivate deep water
Deepwater culture hydroponics is simply plants suspended in aerated water. DWC systems, often called deep water cultivation systems, are one the most common methods of hydroponics. A DWC system hangs net pots that hold plants over an oxygen-rich, deep nutrients. The plant’s roots are submerged within the solution, giving it continuous access to nutrients, water, and oxygen. Some consider deep water culture to be the purest form hydroponics.
Because the root system is immersed in water all the time the proper oxygenation of water is essential to plant survival. If there is insufficient oxygen supply to the plant’s roots, the plant will drown in the solution. Install an air stone to an air pump near the base of the reservoir to provide oxygenation to the entire system. The solution for nutrient 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. To make the net pots you could make use of an old aquarium or a bucket that is clean. DWC plants should not be submerged in the solution. It is not recommended that any portion of the stem or the vegetation, be submerged by the solution. You can leave about one inch and a quarter of the root above the waterline. Air bubbles rise from the surface, and then splash onto the roots that are exposed. They are not at risk of drying out.
What are the advantages of deep water systems for culture?
- Low maintenance: Once a DWC system is set up it requires minimal maintenance needed. Simply replenish the nutrient solution as needed and make sure your pump is pumping oxygen into the air stone. The average nutrient solution needs to be replenished every 2-3 weeks depending on how large your plants are.
- DIY appeal: Deep water cultivation systems are more affordable than many hydroponics systems. All you need to do is run to the nearest pet store or nursery to get the pump and other 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 aren’t suitable for growing flowers. If you put in the effort, it’s possible to cultivate bell peppers, tomatoes and squash in the DWC-system.
- Control of temperature It is crucial to ensure that the temperature of the water solution does not exceed 60°F or 68°F. In a DWC system, the water is static and not recirculating, so it can be more difficult to control temperature.
2. Wick systems
The wicking system is where plants are planted in growing media, then put over a pot. The reservoir is filled with a water solution that contains the dissolved nutrients. The reservoir is home to an water solution that contains dissolved nutrients. Wicks move from the reservoir and then to the tray. The wick’s water and nutrients move up the wick to saturate growing media around the plant’s roots. These wicks can also be constructed from string, rope or even felt. Wick systems are by far the most simple form of hydroponics. Wick systems are hydroponics that are passive – meaning they don’t require pumps or other mechanical components to operate. They are perfect for locations in which electricity is not readily available or isn’t reliable.
The capillary action mechanism is what makes wick systems work. The wick absorbs the water it’s immersed in like a sponge, and when it comes into contact with the porous Grow Bags media, it transfers the solution of nutrients. The wick system hydroponics is only suitable when the growing medium can facilitate the transfer of water and nutrients. Coco coir fibers (from the outer husks coconuts) are excellent for retaining moisture. They also have the benefit of being have a neutral pH. Perlite is pH neutral, and extremely porous, which makes it perfect for wicking systems. Vermiculite has a very porous structure, and also a great capacity for exchange of cations. It is able to store nutrients for later use. The three media listed above are ideal for systems of hydroponics that use wicks.
Wick systems work slower than other systems for hydroponics therefore it’s not practical to grow plants using these systems. It is important to ensure that each plant in the growing tray that you will have at minimum one wick that is running from the reservoir. The wicks must be located close to the root system of the plant. Although wicks can be working with aeration and a pump Many people opt to add oxygen stones and an air pump into the wick system’s tank. This increases the level of oxygenation in the hydroponics setup.
What benefits does a Wick system provide?
- Simplicity: A running wick system is easy to install and requires minimal maintenance. Your plants are protected from drying out by the continuous supply of water that is provided by the wicks. You will see the growth of lettuce in a system with wicks, providing you with a great return on investment.
- Space-efficientWick systems are unobtrusive and can be installed anywhere, seeing as they don’t require electricity to run. It’s a great system for beginners, students and anyone interested in hydroponics.
What are the disadvantages of wick systems?
- The limitationsLettuce (and other herbs such as rosemary and mint) are fast-growing and don’t require large amounts of water. Tomatoes will, however, struggle to flourish in a system with wicks due to their high requirements for nutrients. Others plants aren’t able to thrive in a climate that is always humid. A wick system can kill root vegetables such turnips, carrots, and other root veggies.
- Responsible to rot: Hydroponic wick systems are always damp and humid. This increases the likelihood that fungal diseases and rot can be present in the organic growth media or on the roots.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
Systems that use the Nutrient Film Technology (NFT), suspend plants over a continuous flow of nutrient solution. The solution washes over the root systems. The channels that hold the plants in a tilted position allow water to run down their length before it drains into the reservoir. The water in the reservoir is then aerated using air stones. Submersible pumps pump the water rich in nutrients out of the reservoir and back up to the top. Recirculating hydroponic systems employ the nutrient-film technique.
NFT technology is different than deep hydroponics in water culture. In an NFT system the plant’s roots aren’t submerged in water. Instead, the stream (or “film”) is only flows over the ends of their roots. The tips of the roots take in moisture and the root system that is exposed receives plenty of oxygen. The sides and bottoms of the channels are grooved to allow the water to flow easily over the root tips. This prevents water from pooling or damming up against the root system.
It is important to drain the reservoir every week, and refill the solution of nutrients. This will ensure that your plants get adequate nutrition. The slope of NFT channels should be gradual. If it’s too steep, water will rush through the channel without nourishing the plants. If too much water is being pumped through the channel, the system will overflow and the plants can drown. NFT hydroponics systems are extremely popular because they can support several plants in a channel. They are also able to be easily mass-produced. The best nutrient film technology systems are for light plants such as spinach, lettuce mustard greens, kale. To support heavier fruiting plants like tomatoes and cucumbers, trellises will be required.
What are the advantages of using films containing nutrients?
- Low consumption: Since NFT hydroponics recirculate the water they do not demand large quantities of water or nutrients for their operation. Since the water is constantly flowing, salts cannot accumulate on the roots. Nutrient film technology doesn’t need growing media. This means you don’t have to pay the cost of buying media and the hassle of replacing it.
- Modular design: Film technique systems that are nutrient-based are ideal for commercial and large-scale projects. It is easy to increase the size of your greenhouse once you’ve got one channel working. The channels could be used to accommodate different plants within your greenhouse. It’s a good idea to ensure that every channel is fed by its reservoir. This will ensure that the pump will function in its entirety even if the pump is damaged or there’s a spreading of illness.
What are the disadvantages of the use of a nutrient film?
- Plants can die if the pump is not working correctly and the channel stops circulating the nutrients, Without water supply the entire crop could die within a matter of hours. It is essential to monitor the performance of your NFT hydroponics setup. You should be vigilant about checking the efficiency of the pump.
- Overcrowding occurs when plants are placed too closely together, or the root growth is too extensive and causes the channel to become clogged. Roots can block the flow of water, causing your plants to starve. This is particularly true for plants at the bottom. If the plants near the bottom appear to be performing poorly compared to the rest of the channel, consider removing some plants or moving to smaller units.
4. Ebb and flow systems
Ebb, also known as flow hydroponics, is a method for filling a growing bed with nutrient solution from below. The submersible pump inside the reservoir has an alarm clock. As the timer begins it will fill the growing bed with the water and nutrients. After the timer is over, gravity slowly removes the all the excess water out of the grow beds before flushing it back into the reservoir. A overflow tube is installed in the system to stop flooding from exceeding a certain point and causing damage to fruit and stalks of the plants. The plants that are part of an ebb-and flow system are not continuously being exposed to water unlike the other systems. The grow bed is flooded and the plants take in the nutrients through their root systems. The roots become dry when the water runs off and the grow beds are empty. The roots are dry and then get oxygenated in the time between the next flood. The time between floods will be determined by the size of your grow bed and how large the plants you have.
Ebb and flow systems (also called drainage and flood systems) are among the most well-known hydroponic growth methods. The abundance of oxygen and nutrition the plants are supplied with encourages quick and vigorous growth. The ebb-and-flow system is a flexible and easy adjustable. It is possible to fill the grow bed with various net pots and also a range of fruits and vegetables. More than other hydroponic system, the ebb and flow method lets you to play around with your plants and media.
Ebb-flow systems are able to accommodate virtually any type of plant. Your grow tray’s size and depth are its primary drawbacks. Root vegetables require a deeper bed than strawberries or lettuce. Peas, tomatoes beans, cucumbers peppers, carrots, and peas are all popular ebb and flow crop varieties. It is possible to even put trellises directly at the beds for growing. Ebb and flow hydroponics is a popular method of cultivating plants. These are easy to wash, reuseable and light. This is an important characteristic in ebb/flow systems.
What are the benefits to the ebb flow system?
- Flexibility: With an ebb and flow system, you can grow much larger plants than in most other hydroponic systems. Ebb-flow hydroponics is ideal for vegetables, fruits, and even flowers. If you’ve taken the time to provide your plants with the right size grow bed and nutrients and nutrients, you’ll see a huge yields.
- DIY appeal: There is no shortage of ways to build an ebb/flow hydroponic system right at your home. You can get everything you require at your local hardware store and pet store to construct an ebb and flow system. While ebb systems are more expensive than DIY systems such as wick or deep-water cultivation, they offer a much more diverse selection of plants.
What are the advantages of an ebb/flow device?
- Pump failure: Like any other hydroponics system, when your pump fails, then your plants will perish. Monitoring the flow system is important to ensure that your plants are in good health. Your plants will not get the right amount of water and nutrients when it flows too fast.
- Rot & disease:Sanitation and maintenance are essential to an ebb and flow system. If the bed isn’t draining properly, root disease and rot could develop. Ebb/flow systems that are dirty could attract pests and cause mold. Inattention to cleaning 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
Hydroponic drip systems provide a nutrients-rich and aerated solution from a reservoir through a tube network system to individual plants. The solution slowly drips into the root system of each plant. It keeps the plants well-nourished and moist. Drip systems are popular hydroponics methods, especially for commercial cultivators. Drip systems can be utilized for individual plants, or as a large-scale irrigation system.
There are two types of drip systems hydroponics. These systems are preferred by smaller at-home growers. The extra water is drained from the grow bed and put into a reservoir. Then, it is recycled in the following drip cycle. The water that isn’t removed out of the media before going to the dump. This method is much more popular with commercial growers. The non-recovery drips may seem inefficient but large-scale growers are extremely cautious about their water usage. These drip systems can only provide the solution necessary for keeping the plant’s expanding media in check. Non-recovery drip systems use intricate timing devices and feeding schedules to keep waste to a minimum.
You will need to adapt to changes in the pH level of the nutrient solution, if you are growing plants in a drip-recovery system. This applies to any system where wastewater is re-circulated into the reservoir. Growers must monitor the solution reservoir and adjust it more frequently than they would in a nonrecovery system. Plants can also drain the nutrients in the solution as well as altering the pH. Additionally, the growing media may be too high in nutrients and require frequent changes.
What are the benefits to drip-systems?
- Wide range of plant options: A drip-system can accommodate larger plants than other hydroponic systems. Commercial growers love this method. Melons, pumpkins, onions and zucchinis are all amply supported by a properly sized drip system. Drip systems contain higher quantities of growing media than other system, which allows them to accommodate bigger root systems. Drip systems are best utilized with slow draining media such as coco coir or rockwool.
- Scale: Drip systems are able to easily support large-scale hydroponics operations. A grower could connect new tubing to a reservoir to allow for more plants. New plants can be added to the existing drip system as reservoirs can be added with different timer schedules that are tailored to fit the needs of the new plants. This is another reason that makes drip systems a popular choice for commercial hydroponics.
What are the disadvantages of drip systems?
- Maintenance If your plants are grown using a nonrecovery drip system at home, you’ll require more maintenance. It is important to monitor the pH and nutrient levels of your solution. It is essential to remove and replace the tank if necessary. The lines for recovery systems can become clogged by dirt and plant matter, so it is necessary to clean and flush the delivery lines.
- ComplexityDrip Systems can rapidly become complicated and complex. This is not as relevant to professionals in hydroponics, however it’s not the ideal choice for home growers. A lot of simple systems, like flow and ebb are more suitable for at-home hydroponics.
Aeroponics systems hang plants in the sky and expose their roots to a rich nutrient mist. Aeroponics frameworks are enclosed structures such as towers or cubes, that can hold a multitude of plants simultaneously. A reservoir is utilized to store water and nutrients. 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. Some aeroponics constantly mist the root system similar to the way the NFT systems expose the roots to the nutrient film constantly. Some operate more as an ebb and flow system, spraying mist at intervals over the roots. Aeroponics doesn’t require any substrate media for survival. The constant exposure of the roots allows them to absorb oxygen and grow at a faster rate.
Aeroponics systems require less water than other form of hydroponics. Aeroponics uses 95% less water than an irrigated plant. Vertical gardens The towers are constructed to take up less space and allow for multiple towers to fit in a single place. Even in cramped spaces, aeroponics can produce great yields. Aeroponic plants also grow faster than plants grown hydroponically due to their increased oxygen exposure.
Aeroponics permits harvesting all year round. Aeroponics can be used to cultivate vines as well as 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 environment. The fruiting trees can’t be grown aeroponically because they’re too large and heavy. Also, underground plants that have large root systems, such as potatoes or carrots, cannot be grown.