Hydroponic farming is a soilless process used to grow various plants. Instead of using soil, farmers use rocks or pebbles, water, and a nutrient solution. The term is similar to hydroponic gardening and the two terms are often used interchangeably, although “farming” is usually reserved to describe large commercial hydroponics operations.
The Set-Up In order to try farming hydroponically, you need to make sure your plants are in a place where they can get plenty of sunlight. You also need some rocks, pebbles or gravel to hold the plants in place. Once the plants are in place, you need water, a nutrient solution, tubs in which to put the plants and a pump to refresh the water and nutrient solution.
Types of Systems
There are three major kinds of hydroponic systems. The most popular kind is the ebb and flow design, which uses water pumps to circulate the water and nutrient solution to the plants. Another design is the Mittleider Design, which uses both soil and hydroponic growing methods and is often used to grow plants in poor soil.
The container system is the easiest hydroponic farming system. It involves plants placed in a container and immersed in the nutrient solution. In this design, there is no pump and you must drain and add the nutrient solution manually.
Hydroponic growing can be used for commercial purposes by big companies or it can be done by individual consumers at home. Both home and commercial growers see significant benefits from hydroponic farming such as lower costs and healthier crops. Lower costs are due to the fact that you do not need to buy soil or pesticides. You may also find that you spend significantly less money on water than if you were using soil since most of the water is re-used.
Benefits of Hydroponics
Hydroponics is also better for the environment. The farming is usually indoors and minimal pesticides are necessary. The fewer pesticides that are used, the less are sprayed into the surrounding air. Hydroponics also conserves water since the water that it does use can be drained and recycled. Hydroponic farmers also find that their plants are higher quality than plants grown in soil. Often, they taste fresher, last longer and are healthier.
Many people are using hydroponics in their own homes. This way they know exactly what kind of pesticides and other chemicals are used on their fruits and vegetables if any. Hydroponic farming allows you to grow more in a smaller amount of space. It is also less time consuming once it is set up since it is automated. You need to check that things are running smoothly, but you do not need to water each individual plant like you would in the course of normal farming.