The art of growing plants without the use of a traditional soil medium and using nutrient rich water is called Hydroponics. The word, Hydroponics came from Latin, means working water. The concept of Hydroponics, is supplying the plants what it needs, when it needs, in the right proportion and in the right time.
In Hydroponics, the growing medium is an inert substance that doesn’t supply any nutrition to the plants. The purpose of growing medium is to aerate and support the root system of the plant and to channel the water and nutrients. The medium can be Rockwool, Perlite, Vermiculite, Coconut fibre, gravel, sand and much more. All the nutrition comes from the nutrient solution (water and fertilizer combined), which helps one to control everything plant receives.
Read also : Advantage of Greenhouse Technology
If you grow two identical plants using soil in one and hydroponics for the other, immediately you can see the difference in terms of faster, better growth and much greater yields in hydroponics growing. The reason being, pH adjusted nutrient solution is delivered to the root directly in a highly soluble form. This helps plant to uptake its food with minimal effort as opposed to soil where the roots must search out the nutrients and extract them. The pH in a hydroponics system is easy to check than the pH of the Soil.
Hydroponics systems are characterized as active or passive. Active hydroponic system moves the nutrient solution using a pump where as passive hydroponics system rely on the capillary action of the growing medium. Hydroponics can be also characterized as recovery and non-recovery systems. The nutrient solution is re-used in the recovery systems and not re-used in the non-recovery systems.
There are six types of hydroponic systems. They are
N.F.T (Nutrient Film Technique)
Nutrient Film Technique uses a constant flow of your Growth Technology nutrient solution (therefore no timer is required). The solution is pumped from a reservoir into the growing tray. The growing tray requires no growing medium. The roots draw up the nutrients from the flowing solution. The downward flow pours back into the reservoir to be recycled again. Pump and electric maintenance is essential to avoid system failures, where roots can dry out rapidly when the flow stops.
Read also : Benefits of Mulching Sheets
This is a passive system and requires no moving parts. From the bottom reservoir, your specific Growth Technology nutrient solution is drawn up through a number of wicks into the growing medium.
This is a simple and active system. The roots of the plant are totally immersed in the water which contains the specific Growth Technology nutrient solutions. An air pump with help oxygenate the water and allow the roots to breathe.
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
This hydroponic system works by temporarily flooding the grow tray. The nutrient solution from a reservoir surrounds the roots before draining back.
Drip ( recovery or non-recovery )
Drip systems are a widely used hydroponic method. A timer will control a water pump, which pumps water and the Growth Technology nutrient solutions through a network of elevated water jets.
Aeroponic systems are seen to be a high tech method of hydroponic growing. The roots hang in the air and are misted with nutrient solution. The misting of roots is usually done every few minutes. The roots will dry out rapidly if the misting cycles are interrupted.
Essentially, any hydroponic nutrient solution should contain macro and micro nutrients such as Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous(P), Potassium(K) Calcium(Ca), Magnesium(Mg), Sulphur(S), Iron(Fe), Manganese(Mn), Copper(Cu), Zinc(Zn), Molybdenum(Mo), Boron(B), Chlorine(Cl).
Plants that grow well using hydroponics system are Eggplant, Lettuce, Peas, Peppers, Spinach, Tomato, Fruits etc.,
Read also :