Hydroponics is the process by which plants are grown using solutions of mineral nutrients. Material like sand and gravel may be used but soil is not. As far as the growing of plants is concerned, this method is effective because soil is not essential in the process. In reality, it actually acts as a reservoir for minerals and nutrients essential for plant growth.
Types of Hydroponics
1. Solution Culture: For this type of hydroponics, there is no solid medium used at all. The only medium used to facilitate growth is the solution of nutrients. Three main types of solutions are used:
a. Static, where the plants are grown in containers with the option of either providing aeration for the solution or not. The solution is changed regularly and replenished whenever it gets depleted.
b. Aeroponics, where instead of having the plants in a solution, they have their roots suspended in a chamber with drops of the solution added in either aerosol or mist form.
c. Continuous flow; where the solution is constantly flowing among the roots as opposed to standing still.
2. Medium Culture: In this case, a solid medium is used. The common mediums used are sand, gravel and rockwool.
For each of these mediums, sub-irrigation is recommended. Sub-irrigation works when the area being irrigated has been raised, thereby enabling the medium to be moistened from below with the water working its way up, which conserves both water and nutrients.
The universal quality across all types of hydroponics is the use of reservoirs. The main factor to consider is keeping the light out in order to ensure that algae does not grow in the solution.
Advantages of Hydroponics
1. One main advantage is that since soil is not used, it is possible to grow plants in different areas, climates and conditions.
2. Due to the mobile nature of the containers used in hydroponics, it is easy to get rid of pests, in addition to dealing more effectively with diseases.
3. Hydroponics facilitates the reuse of water. This is because it remains in the system as opposed to being drained off. As such, a farmer is able to save resources.
4. The plants are not adversely affected by pesticides.
5. Hydroponics is a revolutionary method of growing plants, which facilitates consistently high yields.
6. This method of growing plants in a soilless medium makes it possible to adjust the level of nutrition that the plants receive. By focusing the nutrients in areas where they are required, one is able to save on their cost.
For hydroponics to work, the system must be continually monitored to check for any needed repairs. Failure to do so could result in a defect in the hydroponic system, which in turn would result in the death of the plants.
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