Growing plants using the hydroponic method has existed for several millennia. More about here Lucie Novák Blog. Many have heard of the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, as well as the people of Peru and Myanmar, who grew their “floating” gardens on the surface of high mountain lakes. The essence of the hydroponic growing method is quite simple – the plant roots are in a constant flow of nutrient solution. Today we will analyze the main pros and cons of this type of plant cultivation.
Pros of hydroponics
Let’s start with the advantages of hydroponic growing:
1) Rational use of fertilizers. All substances are assimilated by the plant, nothing settles in the soil or groundwater. At the same time, the load on the environment is reduced, since there is no effect on the vital activity of microorganisms in the soil.
2) No need for herbicides. When grown hydroponically, weeds have nowhere to come from. As for other pests, you can get rid of them with less radical methods. Both of these factors make the hydroponic growing method one of the most environmentally friendly.
3) The ability to grow plants in extreme conditions. There are many places on earth where people live or work, but there is no opportunity to grow food in these places. These are scientific stations in Antarctica, the Arctic, and other inhospitable places, often with unsuitable soil for cultivation. Arid regions, deserts, permafrost, areas of extreme agriculture. It was impossible to grow plants in such conditions 50 years ago. That all changed with the advent of different hydroponic growing methods.
4) Realization of the potential of plants. With a hydroponic growing method, you create the ideal conditions for the plants in terms of developmental conditions (nutrition, lighting, temperature, humidity). This, in turn, will help the plant to give its strength to growth, the formation of lush inflorescences and fruits.
5) Rational use of available space. The SOG cultivation method or “sea of green” is the most striking example of the rational use of the available area for cultivation. The plant roots do not need to spread and stretch as they do in the ground. This means that plants do not compete with each other for nutrients and many plants can be grown on one square meter of area. Some crops, such as lettuce, can be grown at a density of up to 70. one square meter.
6) No need to use land. Or any other soil that needs to be changed and disposed of after several growing cycles. Hydroponics is a virtually waste-free method of growing plants and does not require global updates after each cycle.
7) A large amount of green mass. The high nitrogen concentration in the nutrient solution contributes to the vigorous green mass of the plant. Hydroponic pools are often used for wastewater treatment. A by-product is a large amount of green mass, which can be processed using special technology into fuel.
Cons of hydroponics
Now on to the disadvantages of the hydroponic growing method:
1) You can’t be wrong. Overdose of fertilizers, improper pH, and much more that can happen due to human factors will quickly affect plant health. When growing in soil, you have a margin of time due to the buffering properties of the soil itself; in hydroponics, all processes occur faster and sometimes it takes hours to count.
2) Dependence on temperature conditions. Plants grown in hydroponics are very demanding on the ambient temperature, as they lack the protection of the root system, in the form of substrate or soil. The optimum temperature differs for each individual plant, but on average it is from 18C to 26C. When the temperature rises above 30C-35C, the process of dying off of the roots begins. This is a significant limitation, especially when using artificial lighting and lamps such as DNaT.
3) Dependence on electricity. Hydroponic gardens and greenhouses are highly dependent on electricity and fluctuations in electricity can be a serious problem for such cultivation. It also affects the price of the finished product, since electricity consumption during cultivation is calculated in hundreds of kilowatt-hours.
4) Epidemics. In case of infection, a disease that occurs, for example, in only one plant, can very quickly be transmitted to all seedlings through a nutrient solution in which the roots of all plants are found.
Summing up, we can say that the hydroponic growing method, like any other, has its advantages and disadvantages. However, it is a very effective method of plant cultivation through the rational use of resources and areas. Like any complex system, hydroponics requires a thoughtful approach, experience, and constant monitoring. Hydroponics is rightfully considered a progressive type of plant growth, and many fertilizer manufacturers, for example, GHE, are doing everything to popularize this type of plant growing. Great harvests for you!