For most people, the concept of farming involves plants planted on the soil. But the hydroponic system is different. Instead, it’s a way to grow plants based on the use of water filled with the nutrients the plants need. So instead of using soil, you’ll use an inert medium like clay pellets or perlite. The plant roots come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while it also comes in direct contact with oxygen.
The Advantages of a Hydroponic System
Many people have shifted to the use of hydroponics when growing plants because of its many advantages.
- You can grow plants the whole year round.
- You can grow plants anywhere since you don’t need soil at all.
- Because there’s no soil, you don’t have to till, change, or mulch the soil at all. You don’t have any problems with weeds either. You also don’t need to test the soil or fix any soil setup.
- The space you need isn’t much, and on average you need 20% less space.
- The water you use is only 5% of the amount of water you use for a soil-based system. The water conservation is due to the fact that the water you use can be reused.
- You’re able to use a sterile setting, so there are no pests—and no pesticides either.
- You can even get complete control over the nutrient balance your plants get.
- Plants can grow 25% faster. That’s because they don’t expend unnecessary energy to obtain nutrients.
- Harvesting is easy, and you can harvest up to 30% more plants this way.
- It’s much better for the environment. That’s because the system reduces the amount of waste it produces. There’s also no soil runoff that can harm the environment.
Drawbacks to Hydroponics
It’s not perfect, however. It comes with disadvantages too.
- Perhaps the most noticeable are that it’s much more expensive to set up than its soil-based counterpart.
- It’s also very time-intensive. You need a lot of time to set it up. When you’re done with that, you also need a lot of time to maintain it. Certain tasks, such as monitoring and balancing your nutrients and pH levels will have to be done on a daily basis.
- You also need quite a bit of technical expertise. It’s not as easy as it looks, and you will have to do some considerable research on the topic.
- Power outages can have a very detrimental effect because of the system’s energy needs. If you don’t have power, you will have water your plants manually.
- It may also be easy for water-based microorganisms to sneak in.
- If a disease is able to sneak in, the setup means that all the plants will be affected.
- Soil acts as a buffer to slow down negative effects. Without that soil, any system failure means that your plants will die very quickly.
If you’re going to start with hydroponics systems, you need to start small and simple. Learn as much as you can as you go along. When you become familiar with the basics, you can then start with more sophisticated systems.