As a plant lover, you want to know the best way for plants to flourish and bud into something beautiful. In fact, there are different ways one can follow, including creating a soil mixture, adding in nutrients and fertilizers, and even giving them a good water therapy. Of course, the choice is limited based on the type of plant you’re growing. However, there’s one process that’s starting to make a big name for itself—hydroponics.
Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil. You heard that right—there’s definitely no soil involved. While it sounds technical and scientific, it’s actually relatively easy to understand the process. You just need a suitable nutrient solution and a chosen design to complete your hydroponics system. Likewise, a dash of patience and about of perseverance will aid in the success of your latest discovery.
History Of Hydroponics
The use of controlled environment architecture was first discovered in the first century under the Roman Emperor Tiberius. They used transparent stone, known as mica, to grow off-season cucumbers. Later, in the 17th century, greenhouses started to appear in France and England, where they grew mint plants without soil use. This was in 1699.
It was only in 1925 when the United States started to show their interest in growing crops on a large scale using complete nutrient solutions. They had to maintain the soil’s nutrients by changing them from time to time. When they found this a hassle, they started exploring plants’ growth through nutrient solution culture methods to replace their current process.
Extensive development took place between 1925 and 1935 as scientists began to develop a new system for large-scale crop production. It was then that the California Agricultural Experiment Station first used the water and sand culture methods.
Over the years, discoveries have been made. Even now that hydroponics is starting to become widely used by agriculturists, research and experiments are still being conducted to regularly improve the method.
With years of research, hydroponics has garnered several components. These components ensure that the plants’ growth isn’t compromised and that there are enough nutrients to flourish properly. You can purchase these products at a local store or online, like Acorn Horticulture. These components include the following:
- Grow light supplies
- Growing medium
- Nutrient solution
- Nutrient reservoir
- Grow tray
Benefits Of Hydroponics
- Saves space
Plants need a lot of space to spread their roots to the ground. Thus, there’s a need for plants to maintain some distance from each other. However, in hydroponics systems, plants don’t need to spread their roots because they’re directly placed in water and nutrients, allowing instant absorption.
- Conserves water
Contrary to what most people think, hydroponics actually saves ten times more water than the usual farms. In farms, the water will roll away, form puddles, and even evaporate. In a hydroponics system, water is recirculated and reused. Likewise, it’s evenly distributed in a controlled manner.
- Uses fewer chemicals
Hydroponics is usually created indoors. This means insects can’t easily infiltrate the space where the plants are grown. While there’s still a chance for pests to attack the plants, their potential to hang around the environment is lowered. This means agriculturists don’t need to use so many pesticides to kill them because they can be controlled and quickly eradicated.
- Induces faster plant growth
Compared to plants grown in soil, plants cultured in hydroponics systems grow 30% to 50% faster. The factors contributing to this include how plants are being provided ideal nutrients, plants being grown inside greenhouses and controlled environments, and plants not exposed to stress from the outside environment. The plants are thoroughly relaxed and can, thus, bud and develop beautifully. Examples of vegetables that grow well in hydroponics systems are lettuce and tomato fruit.
- Controls nutrients
Plants in hydroponics systems aren’t grown with water alone. The water is adequately prepared and mixed with nutrients that will help with the plants’ development. Thus, the agriculturist can adequately control how much nutrients the plant will receive, according to its needs, because it’s measured by ratio with the water where the plant is placed.
- Indoor growth
A hydroponics system is sought after because it can efficiently be conducted indoors, and plants have higher survival rates. Indoor growing has its own set of benefits where you don’t need to depend on a season to grow plants. There’s less exposure to dangers from the outside and a controlled environment, where climate and temperature are always monitored. The indoors provides a near-perfect environment for plants to grow.
- Healthier plants
Unlike the usual, plants grown in a hydroponics system will not have to suffer from soil-borne diseases because there’s no soil used. Likewise, the energy plants use to spread their roots to get nutrients will be saved and concentrated on growing. This is why hydroponics-borne plants are healthier.
- Bigger yields
Plants are usually grown in a small space in hydroponics systems. There’s no need for plants to compete for space because they’re grown directly in water. Thus, there’s more yield per square foot. Also, agriculturists can grow plants that aren’t even in the season because of the indoor environment, so aside from the initial harvest, they can harvest more times after that.
- No soil erosion
In the last 150 years, half of the Earth’s soil has been eroded by agricultural field practice. There has been a decrease in available arable land. On the other hand, hydroponics does not use soil, so there’s no erosion happening.
- No weeds
In a controlled environment, especially a greenhouse, there’s no chance for other plants to grow, even weeds. Thus, your plants are always protected, and you can ensure that you are giving them the best care they need.
Hydroponics seems complicated, but it offers so many benefits not only for agriculturists but also for farmers struggling with their yearly produce. The hydroponics system allows you to grow your crops all year round. While much research is yet to be done to improve the current system, adopting the hydroponics system won’t only allow you to yield more, but it will also let you help the environment. Thus, the Earth’s soil can heal, and more arable land will be available in the future.