Hydroponics is the growing of plants without the use of soil; instead of getting their nutrients from soil, plants grown using a hydroponic system simply absorb them from nutrient rich water. The roots of the plant can either be suspended directly in the nutrient solution, or sprayed with a fine mist.
Below are five reasons why many new growers – both on a commercial and personal scale – are switching to hydroponics as a method of producing high quality plants:
- If you live in a region with an arid climate all year round or even seasonally, hydroponics allows you to continue growing regardless of the dry weather conditions. The same principal also applies if you live somewhere with inconsistent sunlight or warmth, like in Alaska or Russia; light and temperature can be carefully controlled to ensure successful crop yields.
- Living in a densely populated area with little to no outdoor space available for growing, can be a huge concern, but with hydroponic growing, around 20% of the land usually required for growing crops is typically used.
- There are environmental benefits to using hydroponic systems too:
- Plants grown without soil typically use around 90% less water than those grown with soil, due to the recycling and reusing of the water and nutrient solutions. If you are in an area where water is a scarcity, this can be hugely beneficial.
- Hydroponics require the use of minimal pesticides and fertilisers compared to that of soil based plants, making it more cost effective and meaning that no chemicals are being released into the environment.
- The transportation of crops has an environmental impact too, but as hydroponic systems allow for produce to be grown locally – therefore limiting the need for importation – there will be an inevitable decrease in both price and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the methods of transportation.
- Having direct access to the water and nutrients, plants grown in a hydroponic system do not need to develop large root systems and will therefore offer the grower a shorter harvest time. Plants grown in this way tend to be more lush and healthier in around half the time of traditionally grown plants.
- It is important to understand that the basics of traditional gardening i.e., knowing what nutrients plants need and in what amount, does not differ irrespective of the method used to grow them. Many of those new to hydroponics believe that such systems require a substantial amount of specific knowledge and research, but this is not the case.
Remember, all growing requires a certain level of experimentation in order to achieve the best results, but using a hydroponic system and being able to control some of the most important variables, should make the whole process a little more straightforward.