Everything you need to know about hydroponics – Part 1
Hydroponics is a useful method of growing crops that produces high yields and uses water efficiently. This system is especially beneficial if you have a limited amount of space to use for the cultivation of vegetables. Read our blog post to discover the pros and cons of farming using a hydroponic system. You can find any equipment you might need on AgriMag.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics refers to plants that are grown in water. Nutrients are added to the irrigation water that is provided to the plants. Perlite or rockwool are used instead of soil while other growing mediums include clay pellets or peat moss. The system is based on the concept of allowing the roots to touch the water directly as well as having access to oxygen.
Advantages of hydroponics
When it comes to farming, there are plenty of advantages to using a hydroponic system. Hydroponics produces good quality vegetables that don’t require much washing. This method of growing crops means that you don’t need to prepare the soil. It also makes weeding unnecessary. Hydroponics maximises the space that you have as a large number of vegetables can be grown in a small area. It also decreases the soil pollution that results from nutrients that are unused by the plants. Water is a scarce resource and this system optimises the efficiency of water usage. Hydroponics uses a closed system, which means that less water is lost through evaporation. If you have poor quality soil and limited space to grow crops, hydroponics may be the perfect system for you. Hydroponics promotes faster-growing speeds so your crops could be ready to harvest in 25% to 30% less time when compared to regular farming methods. The plants have easy access to nutrients when this method is used, which means that less energy is expended on growing root systems
Disadvantages of hydroponics
While there are plenty of advantages to hydroponics, there are also downsides. It’s important to consider the disadvantages of this system before you decide to use it. Producing vegetables using hydroponics requires capital as well as hard work to set up and maintain. You’ll spend more money setting up a hydroponics system when compared to using traditional farming methods. Extensive knowledge of how this system works is necessary in order to be successful. Vegetables grown using hydroponics need to be tended to every day. It’s vital to assess the pH and nutrient balance in the water daily. This allows you to correct any imbalances before they cause damage to the plants. Hydroponics requires farmers to use specialised nutrients that can be dissolved in the irrigation water. Pests are another risk of this type of farming. It may also be challenging to find a market for the vegetables that are grown using hydroponics. Another risk is that any failures in the system can cause your plants to die in a short period of time. If the pump breaks, you could lose your plants in a few hours.
What do I need to start?
Commercial hydroponic systems require a good quality source of water that is reliable. You’ll also need to identify a market where your crops can be sold. You’ll need management skills to set up and oversee the system. Staff to take care of the crops is also required as this method is labour intensive. You’ll need to secure capital to set up the system and selecting the right location is also important. You’ll need seedlings, as well as a growth medium and nutrients, to get started. An in-depth understanding of hydroponics is also required.
Which crops can be grown?
Hydroponics can be used to grow a diverse range of crops. The system that you use will influence the type of crops that you can grow. Tomatoes and peppers grow well when drain to waste systems are used, while lettuce grows better in a gravel flow system. When you’re deciding which crop to grow, you’ll need to take the climate into consideration. The market for different types of vegetables should also be factored into your decision. The seedlings that you use should be young and healthy with white roots that aren’t attached to the tray walls.
Now that you know more about hydroponics, you can decide if this method of farming is the right choice for you. With the right knowledge, and equipment you can find on AgriMag, this system can produce high-quality vegetables in a limited amount of space.
Click here to read more about becoming a hydroponic farmer.