Hydroponics – Farming the Future
The world’s population, nearing 7.6 billion, coupled with ceaseless population growth leaves mankind facing a big challenge to provide a sustainable living to the current and future generations. The main matter of concern is non stop land depreciation due to invasive human activities, resulting in reduction in forest and agriculture land. One way of manoeuvring the current progress towards future can be the use of ‘Hydroponics’.
Hydroponics is most commonly known as soil less farming. It is the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, natural substrates, liquid, etc. with added nutrients but without soil. In conventional agriculture, soil supports a plant’s roots helping it to remain upright and provides it with the nutrients it needs to grow. In case of hydroponics the plants are supported with the inert materials such as gravel, coco peat, perlite, etc. Essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, etc. are provided to the roots by various ways using nutrient rich solution.
Lots of research has been carried out to design optimal methods for cultivation of plants. Every plant requires certain parameters for its growth, likewise similar conditions are simulated for best growth results in hydroponic system. Some of the common methods for cultivation of plants in hydroponics are:
a) Drip system – The way a drip system the nutrient solution is dripped on the plant’s roots to keep them moist.
b) Flood and Drain system – The flood and drain system works by flooding the plants root system with nutrient solution at periodic interval.
c) Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T) – In this System a very shallow nutrient solution continuously flows downward through the tubing,The bare roots of the plants come in contact with the water, and can absorb the nutrients from it.
d) Water Culture – In this system the roots of the plants suspended in a basket hang down from basket directly into nutrient solution. The roots remain submerged all the time 24×7. The necessary oxygen to the plants are provided by air bubbles rising through the nutrient solution, or from dissolved oxygen in the water.
e) Aeroponics – As the name indicates the nutrient to the roots of plants hanging in mid air are provided in the form of mist using a mister or sprinkler at regular intervals. Mid air hanging provides maximum oxygen to the growing plants.
f) Wick system – In the wick system nutrient solution from the reservoir is supplied to the plants using the process of capillary action. Meaning it sucks up water to the plants through the wick like a sponge.
A person can choose from the method depending on the plant and feasibility of the process. Some of the advantages of hydroponic systems are:
- Through hydroponic gardening; plants can be grown anywhere as long as their growth requirements are met.
- This technique does not require pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals, as there’s no chance of damage due to soil-borne diseases or pests.
- A monitored environment, provides a control irrespective of changing seasons, hence crops can be grown all year round.
- It’s simple to get complete control over nutrient balance.
- Double yield is achieved leading to more production from same amount of space, with improved plant health and better nutritional value.
- Ease of harvesting.
The hydroponic practice have yielded excellent results in very short span of time with use of proper knowledge and techniques. It is extremely beneficial for commercial farmers, hence it can be said that new method is surely the future of farming considering all the expected limitations in the near future.