An Introduction To Hydroponics

An Introduction To Hydroponics

It’s less likely that old-fashioned gardeners and farmers heard of hydroponic gardening, and even if they did, their classic ethical code probably compelled them to stay away from it.

However, by doing so, they’re not doing themselves any favors. Hydroponics is becoming more and more of a thing, for multiple reasons. If you’re not familiar at all with this concept, we’ll make sure we’ll give you as much information as possible.

Hydroponic farming.

Let’s start with the obvious.

What Is Hydroponics?

If you hear the words “plant growing”, the first thing that comes to mind is soil. We’ve grown plants in soil for thousands of years and saying that you can grow them elsewhere might sound outlandish.

So, what is hydroponics, after all? Simply put, it’s a form of hydroculture and is defined as a way of growing a wide variety of plants by immersing their roots in water (or keeping them a little above it). Most of the times, nutrients are put in the water, so the plants grow faster.

What does hydroponic mean, as a term? The word is a mixture of English and Greek: “hydro-“ (pertaining to water) and “-ponos” (Greek for “labor”) + “-ics”, the suffix used for denominating sciences.

What Are The Types Of Hydroponic Systems?

Hydroponic systems are divided into 6 main categories. It goes without saying that each of these comes with a clear-cut set of both pros and cons.

  • Wicking system: In this context, the water (and its nutrients) is transported to the roots of the plants through wicks. This system is used for smallish plants that don’t require a whole lot of water. Placing those wicks correctly is crucial since all your plants will die out if the wicks are misplaced.
  • DWC system: DWC stands for Deep Water Culture. It’s the easiest and most basic type of hydroponic system. With this method, you submerge the roots of the plants in water. Since you need to oxygenate that water, you’ll have to install an air pump in the tank. Once again, this system is optimal for small plants.
  • NFT system: NFT means Nutrient Film Technique. Plants are put in a channel above the water tank. A spigot keeps on pumping water through the channel and, at the same time, through the roots of the plants. The water then goes back in the tank, where it’s oxygenated and then picked up again by a pump.
  • Aeroponic system: The roots of the plants are suspended above the water and are sprayed with it by a couple of nozzles.
  • Ebb and Flow system: Imagine a large tray that floods with water and then disposes of it a few times per day. That’s how the E & F system works. You can flood the plants as many times a day as you find fit.
  • Drip system: A water pump overflows the channel where your plants are. The water then drains out in the main tank. It “drips” back there, hence the name of the system.

The Difference Between Hydroponic And Organic Farming

Hydroponics refers to growing plants without soil, whereas organic farming refers to growing them in the soil. In this light, organic farming isn’t an artificial way of growing plants, like hydroponics.

But then again, hydroponics is much more effective. Many people seem to think that this method is unnatural. Wrong – it uses the very same natural process of growing plants like organic farming. It’s just that, in the case of hydroponics, the process is reduced to the essentials. It’s a more “frugal” way of growing if you will.

The Difference Between Aquaponics And Hydroponics

For some, the prefixes “aqua-” and “hydro-” are synonymous. Yes, there’s a similarity, but aquaponics and hydroponics differ quite a lot when it comes to how they work. In hydroponic systems, the roots of the plants are either submerged in water or suspended above it.

In an aquaponic system, however, plants get the nutrients and minerals they need from fish. Plants are put in a channel on top of an aquarium. The excrement from the fish, which is a really rich plant nutrient, reaches the roots of the plants.

Well, not all the excrements, as they are often broken down by bacteria, so the toxic compounds are removed. When using an aquaponic system, it’s crucial that you change the water periodically because 1) fish would die in dirty water and 2) the water will be full of toxins from too much organic waste.

How Do I Get Started With Hydroponics?

Getting started with this system is relatively difficult. On one hand, you’ve got to study hydroponics thoroughly. On the other hand, you’ll need plenty of items that might or might not be costly, depending on where you get them from: the system itself, all sorts of nutrients, a source of light, etc.

Food production method in hydroponic plant system. Growing lettuce in greenhouse using mineral salt solution.

The good news is that you can actually find full hydroponics kits for sale on the Internet. If your budget doesn’t allow it, you can build your own system. You should know that once you’ve started getting into hydroponics, you’ll have to give it time.

This isn’t something you want to do superficially. Learn as much as possible about hydroponics first. This will help you create or purchase a system that won’t fail your plants. We’ll provide a link to an in-depth guide on how to start with hydroponics at the end of the article.

The Bottom Line

“What is hydroponic farming?” – this is a recurring question among farmers. Hopefully, they’ll read this and get the answer they needed. Hydroponics is a formidably efficient way of growing plants in areas where the soil doesn’t allow it for some reason or another.

Although it sounds awfully complicated, it’s really not. Moreover, you’ve got plenty of types of hydroponic systems to choose from. Some of them are more costly, others are more affordable.

Do not underestimate the importance of learning about this method of growing prior to actually purchasing or building one.

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