What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. The absence of soil permits growing houses to cultivate larger quantities in less space. The needs of the plants are met through an elaborate process of providing water, aeration, nutrients and physical plant support through water and other soil-less means. A hydroponics operation typically has more control over the root environment for each plant through constant monitoring. This allows hydroponic growers to be able to provide the highest level of conditions required for whatever type plant is being grown.
The Plant Growth Cycle
In order for plants to remain in a continuous life cycle, water, minerals, carbon dioxide and sunlight are required. Plants absorb the energy of the sun in order to produce chlorophyll. Water, which contains minerals and carbon dioxide, enter the plants and work to produce a form of glucose that is stored in the plants and used as fuel. This process results in the release of oxygen. During the night, a reverse process takes place where plants take in oxygen which generates a release of the stored glucose enabling the plants to grow new leaves and roots. This process of using energy generates a release of carbon dioxide.
How the Plant Growth Cycle Is Maintained Through Hydroponics
Hydroponics is a controlled environment of the essentials required for proper plant growth and cultivation. Natural and artificial lighting is used to provide plants with energy necessary to produce chlorophyll, while minerals, oxygen and water are supplied via the root system of the plant. Each growing stage is monitored so that the plants receives optimum requirements for proper growth.
Advantages of Hydroponics
Minerals and nutrients can be completely controlled through concentrations applied in the water to meet the needs for the current growth stage of the plants. The absence of soil eliminates soil-born insects and the use of pesticides. The infestation of plants and disease problems are less problematic. Hydroponics eliminates weeds and plant stress due to lack of water often associated with a conventional growing method. Fertilizer can be applied in the water allowing plants to make more efficient use of chemical compounds in the fertilizer. Hydroponics typically generates higher yields.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
A hydroponics operation is an elaborate system, expensive to build and maintain, and requires constant supervision by staff with extensive knowledge of plant pathology. While insect problems tend to reduced due to the absence of soil, even a small insect problem can generate larger problems than in a conventional growing environment. A hydroponics system is subject to bacterial diseases and treatment can be very labor intensive. A mechanical or electrical breakdown could be critical to a hydroponics system.