Q. What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subset of hydroculture, which is a method of growing plants, usually crops, without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in an aqueous solvent.
- Hydroponic flowers, herbs, and vegetables are planted in inert growing media and supplied with nutrient-rich solutions, oxygen, and water.
- It fosters rapid growth, stronger yields, and superior quality.
- In conventional way , a plant is grown in soil, its roots are perpetually searching for the necessary nutrition to support the plant.
- If a plant’s root system is exposed directly to water and nutrition, the plant does not have to exert any energy in sustaining itself.
- The energy the roots would have expended acquiring food and water can be redirected into the plant’s maturation. As a result, leaf growth flourishes as does the blooming of fruits and flowers.
Q. What are the types of Hydroponics?
1. Deep water culture systems
- Deep water culture hydroponics are simply plants suspended in aerated water. Deep water culture systems, are one of the easiest and most popular methods of hydroponics.
- The plant’s roots are submerged in the solution, providing it with perpetual access to nutrition, water, and oxygen. Deep water culture is considered by some to be the purest form of hydroponics.
2. Wick systems
- In a wick system, plants are nestled in growing media on a tray that sits on top of a reservoir. This reservoir houses a water solution with dissolved nutrients. Wicks travel from the reservoir to the growing tray. Water and nutrients flow up the wick and saturate the growing media around the root systems of the plants.
3. Nutrient film technique systems
- Nutrient film technique (NFT) systems suspend plants above a stream of continuously flowing nutrient solution that washes over the ends of the plant’s root systems. A submersible pump then pumps the nutrient-rich water out of the reservoir and back to the top of the channel.
4. Ebb and flow systems
- Ebb and flow hydroponics work by flooding a grow bed with a nutrient solution from a reservoir below. The submersible pump in the reservoir is equipped with a timer. When the water ebbs and the grow bed empties, the roots dry out. The dry roots then oxygenate in the interval before the next flood. The length of time between floods is dictated by the size of your grow bed and the size of your plants.
5. Drip systems
- In a hydroponic drip system, the aerated and nutrient-rich reservoir pumps solution through a network of tubes to individual plants. This solution is dripped slowly into the growing media surrounding the root system, keeping the plants moist and well-nourished. Drip systems are the most popular and widespread method of hydroponics, especially among commercial growers. Drip systems can be individual plants or massive irrigation operations.
Q. What is the need for hydroponics?
- Plants sustain themselves by a process called photosynthesis. But they do not need soil to photosynthesize.
- They need the soil to supply them with water and nutrients.
- When nutrients are dissolved in water they can be applied directly to the plant’s root system by flooding, misting, or immersion.
- Hydroponic innovations have proven direct exposure to nutrient-filled water can be a more effective and versatile method of growth than traditional irrigation.
Q. How does hydroponics work?
- Hydroponic systems work by allowing minute control over environmental conditions like temperature and pH balance and maximized exposure to nutrients and water.
- It administers nutrient solutions tailored to the needs of the particular plant being grown.
- They allow you to control exactly how much light the plants receive and for how long.
- pH levels can be monitored and adjusted. In a highly customized and controlled environment, plant growth accelerates.
Q. What are components of Hydroponics?
(1) Growing media
- Hydroponic plants are often grown in inert media that support the plant’s weight and anchor its root structure.
- Growing media is the substitute for soil, however, it does not provide any independent nutrition to the plant.
- Instead, this porous media retains moisture and nutrients from the nutrient solution which it then delivers to the plant.
(2) Air stones and air pumps
- Plants that are submerged in water can quickly drown if the water is not sufficiently aerated. Air stones disperse tiny bubbles of dissolved oxygen throughout your nutrient solution reservoir.
- These bubbles also help evenly distribute the dissolved nutrients in the solution. Air stones do not generate oxygen on their own.
- They need to be attached to an external air pump via opaque food grade plastic tubing
(3) Net pots
- Net pots are mesh planters that hold hydroponic plants. The latticed material allows roots to grow out of the sides and bottom of the pot, giving greater exposure to oxygen and nutrients.
- Net pots also provide superior drainage compared to traditional clay or plastic pots.
Q. What are its some of benefits?
By controlling the environment of the plant in hydroponics, many risk factors are reduced:
- Plants grown in gardens and fields are introduced to a host of variables that negatively impact their health and growth. Fungus in the soil can spread diseases to plants.
- Wildlife like rabbits can plunder ripening vegetables from your garden.
- Pests like locusts can descend on crops and obliterate them in an afternoon. Hydroponic systems end the unpredictability of growing plants outdoors and in the earth.
- Without the mechanical resistance of the soil, seedlings can mature much faster.
- By eliminating pesticides, hydroponics produces much healthier and high-quality fruits and vegetables. Without obstacles, plants are free to grow vigorously and rapidly.
Q. What are its limitations?
- A hydroponic system isn’t cheap
- Constant monitoring is required
- Micro-organisms that are water-based can creep in rather easily
- Growing a hydroponic garden demands an expertise
- Production is limited compared to field conditions
- If a disease appears, all plants in the system will be affected.
Way Forward :
- While hydroponics farming does hold the promise of changing the face of urban farming, entrepreneurs fear that lack of knowledge and expertise can play spoilsport in its growth rate. “Every hydroponic expert would say that the minimum investment in a hydroponic farm would be `30 lakh, while the maximum would go up to as high as Rs 4 crore. Thus, the sector needs more research , advancement and governmental support .