What is Hydroponics?
With the advancement in technology in all the sectors of the world, the agriculture sector wasn’t left untouched. Hydroponics came into existence in the past decade and it has changed the techniques of growing the plants. Hydroponics is a technique of growing plants without any soil. The plants rely on the water and nutrients solution provided to them. This technique has changed the idea of farming totally as farming doesn’t rely on soil since it came into existence.
When considering growing plants in a hydroponic way one must make sure the type of hydroponic system is suitable for the plants they are growing. The crops are grown in net-house which provides the plants a micro-climate which is a very contributing factor for healthy plants. Net-house farming is very popular among the gardeners in India, as the climate there is mostly sunny which is not so healthy for growing vegetables or herbs. These net or shade houses use the hydroponic technique of growing plants.
Types of Hydroponic systems
There are numerous types of hydroponic systems available in the market. People who are considering hydroponics for farming must decide the correct system according to the plant's type they want to grow, also cultivation space is also to be considered. Some of the hydroponic systems are listed below:
- Wick system
This system can also be considered as the most basic hydroponic system. This is a passive system that involves no moving tools. The water and nutrients solution is transported to the plant roots with the help of wick which is connected to the growing media. This is the cheapest hydroponic system that just works like, there exist a growing media such as coco coir and the wick transports the water-nutrient solution to the roots by the capillary action. Although the major drawback of the wick system is that it keeps the growing media too wet which does not allow the oxygen to reach the roots efficiently.
- Deep Water Culture system
The Water Culture system is most suitable for growing water-loving plants such as lettuce. This is also a very cheap system which can be made from an old aquarium or watertight containers. This system is not suitable for big or long-term plants. The plants are grown in Styrofoam type containers with the growing media, these containers are left to float in the water reservoir. An air pump is used to supply air to the air stone fitted inside the tank. The air stone bubbles the water/ nutrient solution and supplies it along with oxygen to the plant roots.
- Nutrient-Film Technique (NFT system)
The NFT technique is an active recovery hydroponic system. There is a constant supply of nutrients to the plant roots in this system. Timer is not used rather a submersible water pump is used to pump the nutrient solution into the plant growing tray, the solution flows horizontally encountering the plant roots. The water is then drained out back to the water reservoir through the drain tube. An air pump is used to supply air to the air stone which supplies oxygen to the water-nutrient solution. The plants are grown in a plastic container that has holes at the bottom so that the roots can dangle into the constantly flowing water supply. This system is highly effective for the hydroponic master gardeners.
- Aeroponic system
The Aeroponic system is the most advanced hydroponic gardening system. The growing medium used in this system is majorly air. The water reservoir is fitted along with mist emitting nozzles. The roots hang out in the air, they are misted with the nutrients solution from time to time. A timer is fitted to ensure timely misting of the roots so they can get all the nutrients for their growth efficiently. This system eliminates all the soil-borne pests and fungus, and the plants grow up to 50% faster.
- Vertical Hydroponic system
Sometimes the gardeners do not have much floor space as required for growing plants. A vertical hydroponic system requires lesser space when compared to any other hydroponic system. The plants are grown by stacking multiple layers of planting surfaces in a pipe-like structure, just like skyscrapers or multi-story buildings. The plants are grown in levels. This type of hydroponics is widely used in urban areas where the farming/ gardening area is compact.
- Dutch Bucket system
This system involves growing the plants in the Bato bucket which is also known as Dutch bucket. This system involves 3 major things, as such the bato bucket with the growing media, watering line and the drainage line. The buckets are lined up together and are connected with two lines: the water/nutrients supply line and the drainage line. This system is not like the other hydroponic systems because it acts both as host for a media bed as well as the water and nutrients solution which is used in the plant growth.
Hydroponics has given mankind a great opportunity to grow fresh fruits and vegetables without soil, indoors via net-house farming or outdoors. It has become a necessity to adapt to evolving gardening techniques to ensure high profit and yields. But choosing the correct hydroponic system is the greatest challenge. One must always consider the type of plants and the growing space before choosing any system.