All About Hydroponics

Introduction To Hydroponics Guide

This complete hydroponics guide covers all essential aspects about hydroponic farming one needs to know whether a beginner or an experienced home grower. The idea of hydroponic farming is interesting to home growers as various types of vegetable, flowering and fruiting plants can be grown in anyplace. However it is difficult to get detailed and reliable information in one place. Online training courses with the sole aim of making a quick buck are flourishing. To provide detailed scientific and practical information free of cost has been the sole motivation behind preparing this hydroponics guide.

List Of Topics

The following topics are covered in the hydroponics guide and latest information is added regularly.

  1. Hydroponics how it works (An Overview)
  2. Hydroponics Aquaponics Aeroponics
  3. What is hydroponics and its benefits
  4. Types of hydroponic systems
  5. Hydroponic plant nutrients
  6. What is TDS and pH

  7. COMING SOON
  8. Benefits of balanced hydroponic nutrient solution
  9. Why Urea is ineffective in hydroponics
  10. Identifying plant deficiencies
  11. Pest prevention and control
  12. Multi plant hydroponic nutrient formula

More Inputs And Future Prospects

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Hydroponics vs Aquaponics vs Aeroponics

All three are techniques of growing different species of plants without making the use of ground soil. The roots of plants are semi dipped in water containing the plant nutrients or just exposed to the atmosphere or air and watered using sprays of mist. All three techniques of growing plants require containers or horizontal or vertical channels to hold the plants and also to feed the plant nutrients. In most cases plastic cups called netpots filled with some inert medium are used to hold the plants in a steady position.

Each technique has its advantages and drawbacks and it is up to the discretion of the grower to choose the method that suits his purpose the best. A researched and practical comparison is made here and all the major factors have been covered to help you make an informed decision.

Hydroponics

This is the basic technique of this type of plant cultivation and involves a simple process of growing plants by keeping their roots semi dipped in a water solution that contains all the nutrients required by the plants. A basic hydroponics DIY project can be carried out on an experimental basis by just using some plastic bottles and cups filled with coco peat. This may not give high yield but is a good learning experience and it can be done without spending any money.

A better hydroponics system can be built using some containers. A still better system includes the use of plastic channels or pipes. Other materials that are required are a reservoir tank, some flexible pipes, cups or netpots, some kind of inert grow medium like coconut choir or pebbles or coco peat etc., a submersible water pump, a simple timer and optionally a small air pump. If you love the activity you can always proceed by investing some more money and buy a ready made system.

The most widely used systems and materials recommended by satisfactory users are displayed on this page which you can buy from the online store. There are number of hydroponic systems which are discussed in complete detail in the post types of hydroponic systems and you are advised to read the same.

Aeroponics

In this method of hydroponics technique the plants are grown using vertical channels. The vertical channels called towers are designed to hold the plastic cups or netpots filled with the inert medium and which will keep the plants steady. The roots of the plants are not dipped in any water solution but are completely exposed to the atmosphere or air inside the towers or vertical channels.

The nutrient solution reservoir forms the base and holds the tower in a steady position. Water is pumped from the water solution tank periodically using a submersible pump and sprayed on the roots from the top of the tower in the form of fine mist. The intervals of spraying the rich nutrient solution are controlled by using a simple timer.

This technique felicitates growing around ten times more plants in a given area and thus space saving reduces the cost of food production. The requirement of uninterrupted electricity supply makes it necessary to invest in power backup equipment. However depending on the needs and restrictions faced by the grower and the space saving factor this type of plant growing is still sustainable.

Aquaponics

To make the hydroponics grow system more economical it can be amalgamated with the activity of fish farming or in some rare cases with other animals farming. This combined activity or method is called aquaponics. The waste generated by the fish is good fertilizer for the plants. However this fish waste is in the form of chemical compounds that cannot be absorbed by the plants. Therefore the chemical compounds have to be broken down into mineral forms that plants can absorb. This is done by using special equipment and the process is called nitrification.

The processed water forming the rich nutrient solution is fed to the roots of plants and the high energy on the plant roots gives faster growth and higher yields. As the nutrients in the water solution are absorbed by the plant roots the water gets purified which in turn is fed back to the fish tank. So the waste of the first system becomes the energy of the second system and the dilution of the latter system becomes a clean solution for the former.

This is a very environmentally friendly way of farming that reduces costs and increases sustainability.

Benefits Of Quality Materials

The use of quality materials and instruments goes a long way in making hydroponic cultivation of plants a pleasurable experience. Beginning with bad materials and poor quality instruments has been the bane of majority of the enthusiastic growers. Poor plant growth or stunted growth or pest infection due to lack of correct monitoring of the parameters has been the most common reason. And all this started with the use of poor quality materials and instruments that misled by giving inaccurate readings.

The life of cheaper materials is short and the cheaper instruments do not last long. Experimenting with cheaper things in the beginning always ends up spending more than the cost of the costlier but quality equipments. This page provides information on the best and most affordable items required to start a hydroponic garden and the selection is based on price as well as recommendations from satisfied users.

Hydroponics How It Works Best

Hydroponics Meaning

Hydroponic farming is a versatile technique of cultivating plants or growing crops by holding their roots in a water solution using various types of holding mediums instead of soil. The growing medium holds the plant upright while the water solution provides all the necessary nutrients for growth and production.

Hydroponic Nutrient Solution

The water solution is called nutrient solution and contains all the minerals required by the plants in the appropriate proportion. The plants use around 14 different types of minerals besides oxygen, carbon dioxide and sunlight.

Hydroponics Mediums

Inert medium is used so that it does not interfere with the plant nutrition. The various types of mediums that are used to hold the plants are coco peat or coconut fibre, gravel, rockwool, sponge, clay balls or hydroton or clay pellets, etc. The hydroponic technique produces equal or higher yield in comparison to traditional soil farming.

Hydroponics Origin

It is believed that the hydroponic technique has been used by people since ancient times in some way. The hanging gardens of Babylon could be a classic example though it cannot be verified. However William Frederick Gericke has been attributed with the honor of being the one who invented hydroponics cultivation in modern times.

Hydroponics Definition

The combination of the words hydro and ponos in the Latin language give the resultant word hydroponics. Hydro is the word for water and ponos is the word for gardening. The result is gardening in water or growing plants in water. This implies that no soil is essential for the activity. However some kind of growing medium or holding medium is required to keep the plants erect.

Importance Of Oxygen

Whatever the medium used for holding the plants it has to be ensured that the roots are partly in water and partly exposed to air. Exposing the plant roots to air is equally important as immersing them in water as without roots getting proper oxygen the plant cannot grow to its potential. In fact plants perform the best in the N.F.T system where the major part of the roots are exposed to air and in which there is only a fine film of flowing water and no accumulation at all.

Methods Hydroponic Farming Home Growers Can Try

Natural And Artificial Hydroponics

One can follow a choice of hydroponic farming techniques. Hydroponic farming can be practiced outdoors in the open or in a hydroponic greenhouse using natural light as well as indoors using artificial lighting system. Farming indoors includes the additional cost of using artificial lights. The grow lights are specially designed for growing plants. Good quality grow lights are found to enhance plant growth as they can be used for longer hours. Plant growth can also be controlled by simulating particular season using artificial lights.

Classification Of Hydroponics

Hydroponic systems can be basically classified into passive systems and active systems. This classification is based on whether additional actions are required or not.

Passive Hydroponics System

In passive systems the nutrient solution remains static and no mechanism is required to make the water flow. However to maintain availability of water with the correct nutrient concentration periodic top ups are necessary.

Active Hydroponics System

In active systems the nutrient solution is periodically made to flow from a water reservoir using pipes and a water pump. The periods are managed using an electronic timer.

There are a number of types in each system. Described below are some of the more popular types of hydroponic systems.

Wick System

The wick system is a passive system in which plants are grown in containers or trays containing the growing medium. Wicks are used connecting the growing medium and the water in the reservoir. This keeps the growing medium moist thereby providing water and nutrients to the plant roots.

Deep Water Culture System

In deep water culture system (DWC) the cups or netpots containing the holding medium are placed in holes made in a platform. The platform in turn floats in the tank in which required water level is maintained. The plant roots require certain amount of oxygen which is absorbed from the mineral solution. As there is no movement of nutrient solution in the deep water tank the proportion of oxygen decreases gradually. A submersible air pump is used to supplement the used oxygen in the deep water solution. The deep water level height has to be at least a few feet. The initial investment in the deep water culture system is higher as large tanks are required.

Aquaponics System

Aquaponics system is the technique where the deep water culture system is integrated with fish farming. The deep water culture system can be turned into an aquaponics system if fish growing is carried out separately. The fish water is fed to the hydroponic tanks after a proper breakdown of the chemical compounds. After plants uptake the dissolved minerals the water gets purified which is then fed back to the fish tank. Investment is required in chemical compounds breakdown equipment.

Nutrient Film Technique System

In the nutrient film technique system (N.F.T) the cups or netpots containing the growing media are placed in holes made in a pipe or a conduit. The hydroponic solution is made to flow from the water reservoir into the pipes and back at set intervals. The hydroponic solution only flows in a thin film but does not accumulate in the pipes. This is done using a pump and a simple timer. This gives the plants the necessary supply of nutrients. The air pump is not required as major parts of the roots are exposed to air all the time. Continuous supply of power is a must for this system.

Ebb And Flow System

The ebb and flow system (EFS) is a derivative of the NFT system. Solution is pumped in the pipes holding the plants up to a certain level and then allowed to drain out back into the reservoir. The process is kept on repeating at set intervals using a timer.

Deep Flow System

The deep flow system (DFS) is a derivative of the DWC, NFT and EFS systems. Solution is allowed to accumulate in the pipes holding the plants up to a certain level. Only excess solution drains out back to the tank. A pump is required to circulate the water. Solution circulation even once a day is sufficient and just for around fifteen to twenty minutes. The solution can suffice even for a couple of days in case of power supply problems. Therefore this is the most recommended system for hydroponic home growers.

Aeroponic System

In the aeroponic system the cups or netpots containing the holding medium are placed in holes in vertical conduit towers. The roots of the plants are hanging in the air all the time. A mist of nutrient solution is sprayed on the roots at set intervals using a pump and a timer. Here again uninterrupted power supply is essential.

Drip System

In the drip system cups or netpots do not work but larger containers are required to hold the medium. This system is usually used for fruiting plants as their root mass is bigger. The nutrient solution is pumped to the plants using a pump and drip irrigation pipes. The pumping interval is controlled using a simple timer. The reservoir can be placed at a higher level and nutrient solution be made to flow using gravity. The solution gets drained in a sump tank from where it is pumped to the higher reservoir. This can be done using a pump and a timer as well as manually.

Compilation Of Benefits Of Hydroponics

There may be various difficulties but still the benefits of hydroponics farming are remarkable and sustainable cultivation can be done. Some of the benefits of hydroponics growing system are placed before you for your own perusal.

  1. As there is no need of soil as a medium to grow crops hydroponic farming is feasible in areas that are not conducive to practice traditional farming.

  2. Places that are arid or infertile are no hindrance to carry out this activity. No worry of weeds, droughts, etc. Rotation of crops is not required as is necessary in traditional farming to maintain the fertility of the soil.

  3. Plants can be grown in a nursery for the first few weeks during the vegetative growth and then shifted to the main growing system. Large number of young plants can be accommodated in a small space in the nursery. Space saving means an additional area available for production.

  4. Immediately after crops are harvested new fairly grown plants can be added to the growing system. As no change over time is required hydroponic plants can be grown round the year batch after batch. This enables large scale plant production.

  5. Because of the controlled nutrients the root growth is good and therefore plant growth is faster and plants are healthier. Plants do not get stressed out trying to search for normal nutrients like they do in the soil sometimes.

  6. It has been documented that because of good root growth in hydroponics farming the growth rate is 20% faster and hydroponic plants also deliver 20% to 25% higher yields. Faster growth rate reduces life cycle thereby increasing crop production.

Wider Importance Of Hydroponics

Benefits To Ground

No leaching of fertilizers into the ground as fertilizers used are held in a closed system. Less quantity of fertilizers used reduces the pressure on mining minerals which are mined from the ground.

Maximizing Water Utilization

Use of water efficiency is very high and there is no wastage. In fact plants grown hydroponically require 90% less water than in traditional soil farming.

Environmental Benefits

There is no use of harmful chemical pesticides. This has a tremendous impact on the environment.

Disease And Pest Control

The prospects of diseases originating from the soil or soil borne diseases are completely eliminated. Use of organic pesticides is sufficient to deal with any related problems.

Cost Of Labor

Hydroponic farming requires significantly less labor and it is also less tiresome. More people are willing to do this type of work unlike traditional soil farming.

Marketing And Quality Benefits

Crops can be grown in the vicinity of the market and even in an urban area. The nutritional value of the crop can be maintained as the time between harvest and delivery is reduced.

Other Hydroponic Farming Advantages

Growth And Nutritive Advantages

Plants can be fed with the necessary nutrients in the correct proportion and at the precise time. This preserves the genetic structure giving vigorous growth and best nutritive value. This is very difficult to achieve in soil farming with such high accuracy. In a controlled environment the absorption of balanced nutrients is better than even organic soil farming. Adequate supply of normal nutrients can be controlled at the growth stage and can be changed for grown plants.

Production Output Benefits

The output of crops can be increased even ten times more in a given area as compared to soil farming as vertical farming is possible. In some cases plant growth is twice as fast as compared to traditional farming.

Hydroponic Farming Home Disadvantages

Educational Disadvantages

A basic technical knowledge of hydroponic nutrients is required which may be challenging for some farmers to master. Parameters like pH and TDS have to be properly understood. Use of instruments like pH meter and TDS meter is a must adding to the initial investment as well as difficulty.

Daily Challenges

A daily monitoring of the hydroponic solution is required as well as prompt responses to any changes in the concentrations or pH values. Knowledge of nutrients and how to manage the balance is essential.

Setup Cost Disadvantages

The initial costs of setting up a hydroponic system are very high although they give back the returns in the long run. Uninterrupted power supply is necessary in some of the systems and therefore there is need for investment in power backup equipment.

Disadvantages Using Organic Fertilizers

The recourse to organic fertilizers in hydroponics farming has been arduous as no single fertilizer contains the exact required minerals. Organic fertilizers originate from animal waste and have to be broken down into forms that when dissolved in the water must enable the plants to uptake. Also the danger of disease transmission can be very challenging.

Disadvantages Growing Multiple Crops

The plants select the type of nutrient and its proportion. This selection varies from plant to plant. So if different types of plants are grown in the same system then there can be wide variations in concentrations as well as pH. Maintaining the right combination is a challenge that has to be addressed on a daily basis.

Hydroponics Farming Home Venture

Incentives For Starting

As hydroponic farming can be practiced as a monoculture the grower has more time to focus on marketing strategies. Therefore hydroponic farming is surely a turning point in countering the global shortage in food production. With round the year food production and little worry about soil fertility or weeds or droughts hydroponic farming is here to stay.

Ease Of Getting Inputs

Hydroponic farming is becoming exceedingly popular among the present generation. With hydroponic setup systems and all allied materials being available on online sites things have become very encouraging. So read all the articles in our hydroponics guide completely and get set to start your own hydroponic garden.

What Are Plant Nutrients In Hydroponics?

Plants require 14 types of chemicals for healthy growth besides other elements. These are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Sulfur (S), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Copper (Cu), Zinc (Zn), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), Nickel (Ni), Chlorine (Cl). Together these are called plant nutrients. Normally these are available in the soil. In hydroponics these are dissolved in the water.

Besides these nutrients plants also require other elements like oxygen (O), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrogen (H) and sunlight. Small amounts of oxygen and hydrogen are absorbed from water or from air by the roots. Carbon dioxide is taken in by leaves from the air.

Classification Of Plant Nutrients In Hydroponics

The plant nutrients are further classified into three categories depending on the proportion of requirement. Macro nutrients (N, P, K) are required in the highest proportion.

Secondary nutrients (Ca, Mg, S) are required proportionately in a lesser quantity.

Micro nutrients (Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, B, Mo, Ni, Cl) are required in a very less or miniscule quantity.

However irrespective of the proportion all are equally essential for the plant health. Certain plant species may require other micro nutrients like Sodium (Na), Selenium (Se), etc. but these are not known in hydroponics.

Can Plants Choose Individual Nutrients In Hydroponics?

Plants can uptake only 13 types of nutrients (these are N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Mn, Cu, B, Mo, Ni, Cl) from the nutrient solution.

However plants cannot choose the quantity of each individual nutrient from a hydroponic nutrient solution in exact proportion. Plants just taken in required quantity of water and along with it nutrients in supplied concentration.

However some plants may draw a particular nutrient in more quantity than the others. For example leafy greens may draw more nitrogen (N) compared to other nutrients while fruiting plants my draw more of potassium (K) compared to other nutrients.

Do All Plants Require The Same Proportion Of Nutrients?

The proportion of nutrients required varies from plant to plant. Therefore the nutrient solution mix has to be prepared as per the plant requirement.

One type of plant may require more potassium (K) whereas another type may require more phosphorus (P).

However a master mix with the addition of an individual element at the particular plant life stage will work for most hydroponic home growers.

Can One Nutrient Mix Suit All The Life Stages Of A Plant?

Leafy greens have only one life stage. Flowering plants have two life stages. Fruiting plants have three life stages.

These are commonly referred to as the vegetative stage, flowering stage, and fruiting stage.

Ideally a separate nutrient mix has to be prepared for each stage. The vegetative stage requires higher proportion of Nitrogen (N). The flowering stage requires higher proportion of Phosphorus (P). The fruiting stage requires higher proportion of Potassium (K).

Preparing a master mix and then increasing the proportion of required nutrient at the particular stage is the best method to follow.

Can Plants Choose The Quantity Of Nutrients To Uptake In Hydroponics?

The quantity of nutrients a plant draws is proportional to the amount of water it consumes and also depends on the pH of the nutrient solution.

The plants uplift water depending on the weather. Plants draw more water in hot weather and less water in cold weather.

If the concentration of nutrients in the hydroponic solution is too high then the plants will become toxic. This may be visible in drooping or drowsy leaves or the plant will gradually burn turning leaves slowly to yellow.

If the concentration of nutrient solution is too low then plants will start showing nutrient deficiency symptoms.

Initially burning may appear like a deficiency tempting one to increase nutrient concentration which may be drastic. Therefore it is essential to vary the concentration of plant nutrient in hydroponics depending on the season of the year and also depending on the location of the site.

Why Is pH Value Important For Nutrient Uptake?

At a pH of around 6.5 most plants are able to draw all nutrients in required proportion. However for optimum performance a pH that best suits a particular type of plant has to be maintained.

Get more details on the importance of pH and how it affects plant performance in the post on hydroponic nutrient parameters (what is TDS EC CF PPM and pH?) from the hydroponics guide.

Hydroponic Farming Cost And Sustainability

The efficient use and monitoring of plant nutrients goes a long way towards producing healthy and productive crops. This is the best way of reducing hydroponic farming cost and increasing hydroponic farming sustainability. Better management of the various parameters not only reduces the chances of pest infection but also prevents stunted growth. Both instances can drastically effect hydroponic farming cost and lower the chances of hydroponic farming sustainability.

To monitor the parameters effectively the use of good instruments is necessary. The best quality and most affordable instruments are researched by us and displayed for your convenience. A compromise here of a few dollars can make hydroponic farming very discouraging as the growth of plants can turn out to be disappointing. So don't worry about the few extra dollars you spend as it will payback in the reduced number of headaches. The life span of the cheaper instruments is not only unpredictable but the inaccuracies can swing so much that your garden will be a total mess before the realization hits you.

What Is TDS And How Is It Measured?

TDS means total dissolved solids in a solution. Higher concentration of solids means higher TDS and vice versa. TDS is measured by using an electronic instrument called TDS or EC meter.

EC, CF and PPM are three different units used to measure TDS or to indicate the concentration of a solution. EC means electrical conductivity, CF means concentration factor and PPM means parts per million. Higher the concentration of solids higher is the EC, CF and PPM and vice versa.

In USA 1 EC is considered equal to 10 CF or 500 PPM. In Europe 1 EC is considered equal to 10 CF or 640 PPM. In Australia 1 EC is considered equal to 10 CF or 700 PPM. So beware where your instruments are manufactured.

What Is The Best TDS Value For Hydroponic Nutrient Solution?

The value of TDS depends on 3 factors - the type of hydroponic system, the type of plant grown and the temperature of the location.

It is recommended to start with the lowest value and gradually move upwards depending on the reaction of the plant.

Plants with deficiencies can recover but a plant with toxicity is finished and beyond recovery.

Plants may require mineral solutions with different TDS values during various stages of plant life.

What Is pH And How Is It Measured?

pH is a unit used to measure the acidic or basic nature of a solution or mixture. It has a scale or value range of 0 to 14. Zero is maximum acidic and 14 is maximum basic. The value of 7 is considered chemically neutral.

pH is measured using a electronic meter or using litmus papers which are also call as pH test strips in hydroponics.

Red litmus paper is used to check basic nature of a solution. Blue litmus paper is used to check the acidity of a solution. Universal litmus paper is used to measure the approximate value of pH in both zones.

Most electronic meters indicate pH to accuracy of 0.1 plus minus range. Although digital electronic pH meters are ideal it is recommended to also use litmus papers occasionally. pH test strips in hydroponics are also handy when there is some problem with the meter.

Why Is pH Important For A Hydroponic Nutrient Solution?

Plants can draw optimum nutrients from a nutrient solution only within a specified pH range. The optimum pH value differs for each plant type.

The sweet spot for most plants is around 6.5 pH value. A pH value range of 6.0 to 7.5 is okay for home growers.

To strictly stick to a narrow range of pH requires the use of chemicals to adjust pH in either direction.

Consequences Of Wrong pH In Hydroponics

Too high pH value hinders the optimum uplift of nutrients by plants from the prepared solution.

Too low pH besides hindering the optimum uplift of nutrients also causes root rot as unwanted bacteria thrive in more acidic solutions.

Wrong pH value hinders the uplift of nutrients in the supplied proportions.

Even though the nutrient mixture is perfect the plants may not get optimum nutrients due to wrong pH value.

Factors That Decide pH Value

Some of the nutrients in a hydroponic plant solution are acidic in nature and others are basic in nature. The acidic ones decrease the pH and the basic ones increase the pH.

Nutrients like potassium (K), Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) are basic in nature and therefore increase the pH. Nutrients like Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Sulfur (S) are present in the form of nitrates, phosphates and sulfates respectively which are acidic in nature and therefore decrease the pH. The other nutrients have a very negligible effect on the pH value or variations.

Why Does pH Change In Hydroponics?

Depending on which nutrient the plant draws more the pH will either increase or decrease over a period of time. If the nutrient solution is not balanced the fluctuations in pH will be large.

However there is always a minor change in pH in either direction which has to be attended to. The direction of pH variation gives a good indication as to which nutrients are used more and vice versa.

Benefits Of Using Good Instruments

Finally all will depend on the quality of the instruments used. Only if the measurements are reliable will the follow up actions be appropriate. Cheap instruments not only last a short time but give inaccurate results. It is normal behavior to try out all the cheap instruments but before you realize you have spent more than what a good instrument would have cost. It is recommended to put in the few extra bucks and go in for better instruments which will not only give accurate results but also last for many years.

We have perused the internet and found out the most recommended instruments which people are using and are fully satisfied. Not only instruments but all other materials displayed on this page are the best and there are many happy users of the same.

What Is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is an innovative modern technique of growing plants directly in water without the use of soil. The plant is kept in still or flowing water in which the essential plant nutrients (fertilizer or chemicals) are mixed in required proportion.

However some medium is required to hold the plant in a steady position. Commonly used mediums are coco peat, pebbles, clay balls, rock wool, perlite, sponge, grow cubes etc.

Plants can be directly placed in water but this exposes the water to direct sunlight which may create problem of algae growth.

What Are The Benefits Of Hydroponics?

The foremost hydroponics benefits are that it does not require soil and hence can be practiced in any place and even a balcony or building terrace will do. It is clean and does not require handling of dirt causing materials.

Other benefits of hydroponics include absence of hard work of digging, weeding, timely daily watering etc. One can grow varieties of vegetable as well as flowering plants in a small place.

With a little bit of experience various types of fruiting vegetables and small plants producing fruits can also be grown.

Environmental Benefits Of Hydroponics

The environmental benefits of hydroponics are varied and substantial. The fertilizers used are mixed in water and feed directly to the plants without dropping in the soil. Therefore there is no damage to soil. The seepage of fertilizers in the ground water is avoided.

In traditional as well as organic farming a lot of water is wasted. Hydroponics is even better than organic farming as it consumes 90% less water. This massive saving of water is one among the most outstanding environmental benefits of hydroponics.

In hydroponics pathogens like bacteria, fungus, etc. from soil do not come in contact with plants. This eliminates the use of harmful pesticides.

Other Hydroponics Benefits

As hydroponic systems use vertical space plants can be grown in multiple layers. Hence output of produce can be 5 to 7 times more in the same area than traditional or organic soil farming.

It is possible to control individual plant nutrients to an accurate level. This helps in producing very healthy plants with optimum nutritious value.

Farm products like leafy vegetables and fruits grown hydroponically have a better market demand and sell for a higher price.

Hydroponic cultivation does not require any special type or size of place and hence can be adapted anywhere as per the availability.

Disadvantages Of Hydroponics

The requirement of special systems makes the initial investment substantial compared to soil farming. Special instruments are also required to keep track of nutrient concentration, pH value and temperatures.

Systems have to be shielded from rain, snow and even too much sunlight. Readymade nutrient packs are fairly expensive and not readily available everywhere. A basic correct knowledge has to be acquired.

Continuous monitoring of the various parameters like PPM and pH has to be done every few days if not on a daily basis.

Why Venture Into Hydroponics

After knowing what is hydroponics and understanding all hydroponics benefits it a good idea to get hold of more information available on this site.

The environmental benefits of hydroponics far outweigh all other types of farming. The disadvantages of hydroponics are few and can be easily overcome.

What Is A Hydroponics System

Hydroponics can be done in various ways using different types of hydroponic systems. A system consists of a structure to hold the plants (container, pipe or channel), a tank to hold the nutrient solution (reservoir) and a pump to circulate the solution. Home growers can also use a simple system without a pump.

The different types of hydroponic systems can be classified into four categories.

Kratky Hydroponics Method

In this method the nutrient solution is stored in a container in which the plant is placed using some grow medium. No circulation of nutrient solution is required.

The size of the container is selected as per the type of plant grown and its water requirement. The container used is large enough to contain enough nutrient solution to suffice at least for a month or more.

As the level of the nutrient solution drops down additional amount may be added as per the requirement. In this system it is difficult to monitor the inevitable changes in parameters like PPM and pH and make necessary corrections.

This system is good to start experimenting with hydroponic technique of growing plants.

Deep Water Culture Hydroponics Systems

In deep water culture hydroponics systems the plants are held on a raft floating in a tank containing the nutrient solution that is around one meter deep.

Good aeration arrangement is required for this system as the water can get stagnant.

This system is ideal for commercial growers and is still better when integrated with fish farming.

However in case of integration a good water purification system has to be added to the setup to remove all unwanted contaminations.

Nutrient Film Technique Hydroponics Systems

In the nutrient film technique hydroponics systems the plants are held in pipes or channels. The nutrient solution is made to flow continuously through the pipes or channels from the reservoir using a pump.

As no water accumulates in the pipes or channels continuous power supply is required to run the pump. This system is good for commercial growers but not ideal for home growers without guaranteed continuous power supply.

Horizontal as well as vertical systems are possible in this hydroponic cultivation technique.

Requirement of electronic timers and power backup system adds to the cost of this system.

Ebb And Flow Hydroponic Systems

In ebb and flow hydroponic systems the nutrient solution is pumped in the channels holding the plants to a specified level and then allowed to drain back to the reservoir tank.

The cycle is kept on repeating using timers to turn the pump on and off. This system is also dependent on consistent power supply and may not be ideal for home growers all over the world.

Investment in good quality electronic timers and power backup is an additional burden which adds to the overall cost of this system.

Deep Flow Technique Hydroponics Systems

The deep flow technique hydroponics system is a hybrid system which combines the techniques used in all the other systems. In this system a certain level of nutrient solution is always maintained in the channels holding the plants.

Nutrient solution is circulated in the system once or twice a day using a pump to compensate for the consumption. The nutrient solution maintained in the channels can suffice for few days in case of power supply problems.

Moreover in case of emergencies nutrient solution can also be transferred from reservoir to starting point of channels manually as well.

Best Hydroponics System For Home Growers

Among all the types of hydroponic systems the deep flow technique hydroponics systems are among best suited hydroponics systems for beginners and home growers.

One need not worry about continuity of power supply. You can be back after a few days outing and be assured your plants will be in good condition.

There is no need of additional timers and power backup resources making this system the most affordable and economically viable.

Move Forward In Your Hydroponics Venture

Knowing about the different types of hydroponic systems has given you a solid foundation on how hydroponic cultivation is done.

There are detailed posts on the other aspects of hydroponics on this site that we recommend for upgrading knowledge.

You can now surely decide on the best hydroponics systems for beginners from the above information.

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