Hydroponics: A Brief History
The name “hydroponics” is derived from two Greek words: “hydro” (water) and “ponics” (work). Soilless farming, often known as hydroponics, has been practised for thousands of years. Two of the earliest instances of hydroponics are Babylon’s Hanging Gardens and China’s Floating Gardens. Around 1950, scientists began experimenting with soilless gardening. Other countries, such as Holland, Germany, and Australia, have embraced hydroponics for crop cultivation with remarkable results since then.
Hydroponics has been shown to have a number of advantages over traditional earth gardening. A hydroponic plant’s growth rate is 30-50 percent faster than a soil plant cultivated in the same conditions. The plant’s output is also increased. The substantial discrepancies between hydroponic and soil plants are thought to be due to a number of factors, according to scientists.
Root growth is aided by the increased oxygen in hydroponic growing mediums. Plants with plenty of oxygen in their root systems absorb nutrients more quickly. In a hydroponic system, nutrients are combined with water and delivered directly to the root system. The plant does not have to look for the nutrients it requires in the soil. Those nutrients are provided to the plant on a regular basis. Finding and breaking down food takes very little energy for a hydroponic plant. This conserved energy is then used by the plant to develop quicker and produce more fruit. Bug infestations, funguses, and illness are also less common with hydroponic plants.
Hydroponically grown plants are often healthier and happier.Hydroponic gardening also has a number of environmental advantages. Because the nutrient solutions are constantly reused, hydroponic agriculture consumes significantly less water than soil cultivation. Pesticides are applied less frequently in hydroponic vegetables due to a lack of necessity. Topsoil erosion isn’t an issue with hydroponic farming systems because they don’t use any. Hydroponics may soon be our only option if agricultural patterns continue to destroy topsoil and squander water.
Mediums for Growing
A growing medium’s job is to aerate and maintain the plant’s root system while also channelling water and nutrients. In different types of hydroponic systems, different growing materials perform effectively. In an ebb and flow system, a quick draining medium like Hydrocorn or expanded shale works well. Hydrocorn is a clay aggregate that has been lightly inflated. It’s a light, airy growing medium that provides plenty of oxygen to reach the roots of the plant. Although both types of grow rocks can be reused, the shale has a higher tendency to break down and may not last as long as the Hydrocorn. The pH of the nutrient solution is rarely affected by these grow rocks because they are quite stable.
Rockwool has grown in popularity as a growth medium. Originally, rockwool was utilised as insulation in construction. Rockwool now comes in a horticulture grade. Horticultural Rockwool, unlike insulating Rockwool, is pressed into growing cubes and blocks. Volcanic rock and limestone are used to make it. Temperatures of 2500 degrees and above are used to melt these components. Similar to how cotton candy is manufactured, the molten solution is poured over a spinning cylinder and squeezed into similar sheets, blocks, or cubes. Rockwool may be used in almost any hydroponic system because it contains 10-14 times the amount of water as soil and retains 20% of the air. Although the pH must be monitored by the gardener, Rockwool, with a pH of 7.8, can be used to raise the pH of the fertiliser solution. Rockwool is not reusable, and most gardeners only get one usage out of each cube. It’s also utilised a lot for propagation.
Perlite, vermiculite, and various grades of sand are also regularly used growing mediums. The pH of the nutrition solution is rarely affected by these three mediums since they are stable. They do, however, tend to retain too much moisture and should only be used with plants that can withstand these conditions. Perlite, vermiculite, and sands are low-cost alternatives that work well in wick systems, however they aren’t the most effective growing mediums.
Most of the same concepts apply to hydroponic fertilisers, or nutrient solutions, as they do to soil fertilisers. All of the ingredients that a plant would normally acquire from the soil are present in a hydroponic fertiliser solution. A hydroponic supply store can provide you with these nutrients. The majority of them are extremely concentrated, requiring 2 to 4 teaspoons per gallon of water. They’re available in liquid or powered forms, and they normally come with at least two containers, one for growing and one for blooming. The liquids are slightly more expensive, but they are also the most convenient to use. They dissolve rapidly and thoroughly in the reservoir, and many have a pH buffer added to them. The powered varieties are less expensive but necessitate a little more care. They must be thoroughly combined and frequently do not dissolve entirely in the reservoir. The majority of people don’t have a pH buffer.
Hydroponic systems, like soil, can be fertilised with organic and chemical fertilisers. Maintaining an organic hydroponic system takes a lot more effort. Organic substances have a tendency to bind together, causing pumps to become clogged. Some hydroponic gardeners simply supplement their gardens with organic nutrients rather than relying solely on artificial nutrients. This provides a consistent supply of nutrients to the plants without the high maintenance requirements of a hydro-organic system.
Most plants can thrive hydroponically in a pH range of 5.8 to 6.8, with 6.3 being ideal. It’s considerably easier to monitor the pH of a hydroponic system than it is to check the pH of soil. pH-testing kits are available at many hardware, pet, and hydroponic supply stores. Depending on the range and type of test you select, they can cost anywhere from $4.00 to $15.00. In a hydroponics system, testing pH is simple and necessary. The plant will not be able to absorb certain nutrients if the pH is too high or too low, and will show signs of deficiency. Once a week, the pH should be tested. It’s simple to change the pH by adding soluble Potash to raise it or phosphoric acid to lower it. A number of pH metres are also available. These provide a digital reading of the system’s pH. The pH meter costs roughly $100 and isn’t required in the majority of cases.
Hydroponics are a type of hydroponic system.
There are two types of hydroponic systems: active and passive. An active hydroponic system uses a pump to actively move the fertilizer solution. The capillary action of the growing media or a wick is used in passive hydroponic systems. The medium or the wick absorbs the nutrition solution and transports it to the roots. Passive systems are typically too wet and don’t provide enough oxygen to the root system to achieve optimal growth rates.
Recovery and non-recovery hydroponic systems are two types of hydroponic systems. The nutrient solution is reused in recovery or recirculating systems. The term “non-recovery” means exactly what it says. The fertilizer solution is not recovered after being administered to the growth media.
The Wick System
The wick system is a non-recovery hydroponic system that is passive. There are no pumps or moving parts in this device. The nutrients are kept in the reservoir and transported to the roots via capillary action, which is commonly accomplished with the help of a candle or lantern wick. Simply put, the nutrient solution travels up the wick and into the plant’s root system. Sand or perlite, vermiculite mix, and a growth medium are commonly used in wick systems. Setting up and maintaining the wick system is simple and inexpensive. It does, however, make the growing media too damp, which prevents the root system from getting enough oxygen. The wick system is not the most efficient method of hydroponically gardening.
The System of Ebb and Flow
Ebb and Flow is a type of active recovery hydroponic system. In the reservoir, the Ebb and Flow uses a submersible pump, and the plants are in the upper tray. They operate on the basis of a simple flood and drain theory. The nutrition solution and the pump are both kept in the reservoir. The nutrient solution is pumped up to the higher tray and given to the plants’ root systems when the pump is turned on. The flood cycle occurs when the pump is turned on for around 20 to 30 minutes. An overflow pipe or fitting allows the nutrient solution to drain back into the reservoir after the water level has reached a certain level. The pump is turned on for the duration of the flood. The nutritional solution gently drains back into the reservoir through the pump after the flood cycle.
The upward rising nutrient solution pushes oxygen-poor air out of the root system during the flood cycle. The oxygen-rich air is drawn into the growing medium while the fertiliser solution drains back into the reservoir. This provides enough oxygen to the roots, allowing them to maximise their nutrition absorption. In Ebb and Flow systems, the most common growing mediums are rockwool and grow rocks. The Ebb and Flow method of hydroponic gardening is low-maintenance but extremely effective.
The technique of Nutrient Film
The Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT system, is a hydroponic system that uses active recovery. Again, submersible pumps are used, and nutrient solutions are reused. The NFT makes use of a reservoir with a submersible pump that pumps nutrient solution into a grow tube where the roots are suspended. The nutritional solution pours over the roots and back into the reservoir since the grow-tube is at a modest downward slope. Up to 24 hours a day, the nutritional solution runs over the roots.
Because the grow-tube requires oxygen, capillary matting or air stones must be employed. No growth media is utilized, and the plants are supported by a support collar or a growing basket. The NFT system is extremely efficient. Many inexperienced hydroponic growers, however, find it difficult to fine-tune. Because there is no growing medium to maintain moisture, any prolonged halt in nutrient flow can cause the roots to dry up, causing the plants to suffer and possibly perish.