Hydroponic Farming uses no soil, but as an alternative grows plants in an environment, including a solution of water and nutrients. The word hydroponic is a Greek letter, and its meaning is “working water” or grows plants without soil. A hydroponic system can grow plants and vegetables rapidly and throughout the year. Moreover, plants grown with this technique succumb more, needs less space, and preserve soil and water. Some essential factors need reasonable control for premium results that include lighting, air circulation, water quality, etc.
Hydroponic Farming does not happen overnight. It has emerged from primitive types and has gone through tons of scientific researches by scientists. And the thing we have today is modern Hydroponics, which has been in the extensive application by greenhouse farmers along with Hydroponic lovers. Nowadays, Hydroponic Farming is successful not only in Pakistan but around the globe.
Working Principle of Hydroponics
Hydroponic does not work unless the conditions are favorable and according to the needs of plants. Hydroponics alters the lack of soil with water and the growing medium. The ever increasing medium includes sand, Perlite, Rockwool, etc. The primary purpose of the growing medium is to transport the nutrients in the water and maintain the roots oxygenated.
There are numerous Hydroponic systems, but they all operate at the same principle. Nutrients are added to the water and are stimulated to the growing medium and through the plant roots typically by water propeller. A timer usually sets the period of every action.
Hydroponics is frequently grown in greenhouses or indoors. The farmers need to take full supervision of the environment – climate, lights, temperature, and ventilation.
Hydroponic systems are the most important thing to get knowledge about the successful growth of plants. In essence, there is not a single type: but six different types of hydroponic systems to do the successful growth of plants. These systems can be active or passive in the sense of nutrients transport. Inactive operations, the nutrient solutions are moved by a water propeller. In passive systems, the anchor or wick assists the nutrients in moving towards the root. These systems are also categorized by recovery or non-recovery based on the reuse of nutrients.
Below are the hydroponic systems:
- The Wick Systems
- Nutrient Film Technique(NFT)
- Deep Water Culture
- Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
- Drip System
The Wick Systems
This system is the simplest type of Hydroponic system. This type of system works by pumping the nutrient solution from the basin up to the plants. It happens via the vessel movement like a wick into the growing medium of grow tray.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
NFT works by constantly flowing nutrient solutions on top of the grow tray, so it doesn’t require a timer. The nutrient solution then runs throughout the roots system of the plants until it reaches the channels’ end then drains back to the basin. It is capable of doing that because the pipe is somewhat downward. NFT does not require any growing media.
Deep Water Culture
Deepwater culture is a type of active recovery Hydroponic system. It works by hanging a clear jar with plants held by a floating Styrofoam stage so that the roots can be dip properly in the nutrient solutions.
Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
Ebb and Flow technique work by using a timer to set the pump to drag the nutrients from the basin to the grow tray from time to time. After the nutrient gets around the plants’ roots, it drains back to the system.
Possibly, it is the most high-tech type amongst six. In this type of system, plants are keep held in the air, so no growing medium is needed. A timer controls the nutrient water pump to spew on the root systems continuously. The spray sequence is quite rapid because the roots are not in any medium, so they need sufficient moisture.
In Drip systems, framers use a timer to put the pump to draw the nutrient solutions through a network of drip lines. These drip lines will spray minute amounts of water on the plants.
In hydroponic Farming, there is no need for soil specifically. But, the medium that holds the plant and transports the nutrients, oxygen, and moisture is known as growing media. There is an unlimited growing medium; even air is growing media. An excellent growing media should possess some features such as
- Not costly
- pH neutral
- Environment friendly and organic
- Proper aeration and drainage – does your medium reasonably seize the moisture and oxygen?
Common Types of Growing Media
Coco-tek or Coco Coir is an organic material made from the coconut case husks.
The derivative of the coconut industry now becomes one of the broadly used media for Hydroponics.
It can hold water and air very well and also organic. It is reusable and environmentally friendly. But it can mix with other materials as drainage is not good.
In the past, Perlite has been extensively used to add ventilation to the soil by conventional farmers for long. But Farmers choose this material hydroponics preferably. It is shaped by escalating volcanic glass under tremendously high temperatures. Consequently, several small white particles explode like popcorn. It is lightweight, reusable, and has high oxygen retention. But, it is not suitable for all hydroponic systems because of its lightweight.
Expanded Clay Pellets (LECA)
Expanded clay pellets are small sandstone shaped balls. It is created by heating the clay: the clay expands and then turns out in little balls. This growing media is reusable and has a high tendency to retain oxygen. But it is heavy and cannot keep enough water.
These are not entire types. But in general, start with these mediums,s and your hydroponic system will be great.
Nutrients for Hydroponic Plants
What plants necessitate are still the same in any surroundings – organic compost (C, O, H, and N), micro, and macronutrients. Though, plants grown hydroponically don’t have the parallel methods to obtain the essential nutrients they need.
A plant also needs light to grow even in indoors. When it comes to lightning, the sunlight, of course, is the best. But technology makes the artificial light much more feasible and brings almost comparable results as natural light. The artificial light includes Fluorescent light, HID (High-Intensity Discharge), LED (light-emitting diode), and many more.
Some plants are useful to grow through hydroponic systems such as
- Vegetables: Spinach, tomatoes, Lettuce, kale
- Fruits: hot peppers, Strawberries,
- Herbs: Basil, oregano, chive, mint
But deep-rooted root crops such as potato, carrot, and turnip are not suitable for this system. And also, the plants required ample space such as melons; pumpkins, squash, and corn are also not good to grow by Hydroponics if you have limited space.