Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil or in soil- less aggregates. This method has proven effective in raising vegetables and crops for home and commercial uses. It uses less space, is cleaner, cost-effective, less-wasteful and not as labor-intensive or environmentally demanding as traditional farming methods. The set-up of a complex hydroponic system is difficult and growers need to be knowledgeable of soil chemistry and plant physiology, though there some more affordable systems available for starters.
Because hydroponics primarily uses water to cultivate plants, the earth’s natural soil structure is preserved. Traditional farming uses heavy equipment and fertilizers that damages the quality of the topsoil and causes erosion. An acre of hydroponics-grown plants yields more than one grown in soil. This lets farmers produce more crops with less space at any location, thereby decreasing the need to graze forests or buy additional farmlands to boost production.
Reduction of pest and plant diseases
Farmers and gardeners usually spend a lot of time and energy applying pesticides to free their plants from weeds and plant diseases. With hydroponics, soil-borne plant diseases and weeds are eliminated, significantly reducing the need for pesticides and herbicides.
Certain types of hydroponic systems are fully automated and allow for the recycling of nutrients and water. This allows farmers to minimize plant irrigation and fertilization. This also allows growers to leave their plants unattended for a certain number of days.
Control over plant growth
Hydroponic farming methods allow growers to regulate the chemical composition of the water or soil- less aggregates. In traditional farming, growers tend to spend a lot of time, money and energy in adjusting the acidity or balancing the chemical components of the soil--like buying sacks or cans of fertilizers and chemicals for seasoning the land--before transplanting seedlings.
In hydroponics, water and nutrients are available year round, so farmers don't have to wait for the rainy or planting seasons to plant seeds. This means plants can be grown or harvested all year, even if out of season.
Some hydroponic systems are expensive and complicated to set up. There are still brands in the market, however, that are affordable and don't require expert knowledge to install. These systems can be set up indoors or outdoors, provided that sunlight or artificial light is available. This is beneficial to novice hydroponic farmers because it is simple to maintain. Other systems are even custom-made or improvised by using recycled materials.
Next frontier in agriculture
Future advancements in hydroponics may lead to a solution to the world’s food problem. Countries with few arable land or inhospitable climate can use this technology for large-scale farming.