Hydroponics: Growing Mediums and Substrates

Hydroponics: Growing Mediums and Substrates

Developing plants without soil, the meaning of hydroponics keeps on picking up prevalence inside business agriculture, and as it does, an ever-increasing number of items are created for it. More refined lighting, simpler to blend supplements and disentangled plant bolsters have all gone onto the market inside the previous five years. Be that as it may, a standout amongst the most energising improvements in the realm of hydroponics has been the refinement and advancement of option developing media.

The word 'hydroponics' comes from the Greek - Hydro (water) and Ponos (Labor or work), by what means work in water. It is defined as "an industrial cultivation method of plants which instead of soil uses only aqueous solutions with dissolved chemical nutrients as support of the root of plants". 

Also referred to as soilless agriculture, it is a technique that has recently grown in popularity. Hydroponics is based on cultivation using water as a source of nutrients, but the plants need some support on which to grow and maintain, to this we mean with hydroponic medium or substrate.

Let's see what are its advantages and disadvantages in order to explore this technique in more depth:

Advantages

  • Space optimisation: The density of plants in a hydroponic crop is greater than one in a normal soil. Because in the soil you have to leave a separation between the plants to avoid that the roots compete for the nutrients in the soil. That is something that does not happen in hydroponics.
  • Correct nutrition of the plant: The nutrients are evenly distributed and controlled over the entire plant. In addition, it is easier to measure the nutrients of the plant to know what it is missing. Similarly, it can help a seed that has a nutrient deficiency to grow properly by adding it to the substrate.
  • Sowing anywhere: Since you do not need a specific place on the ground, you can use this technique anywhere you can imagine, even in your home.
  • No herbicides: In hydroponics, you do not have to spend on herbicides since they cannot grow bad grasses. This is a big saving in this type of products and a healthier plant.
  • Completely healthy: Foods that can be planted using hydroponics are healthier than those planted on land. Since they do not have herbicides, steam-sterilised substrates are also used, which reduces the risk of viral diseases. Similarly, as there is no land, the risk of a pest of insects is reduced as they need the soil to leave their larvae.
  • Savings in manure and fertiliser: Having a correct distribution in the roots thanks to the substrate can save on manure and fertiliser.
  • Shorter growing times: In some cases, the time for a plant to grow is shortened. For example, in lettuce, its period of growth on land is 3 and a half months, while with hydroponics is reduced to a month and a half.
  • Water saving: The water with which you water your plants in normal soil is not used at 100%, a part of this is filtered to lower mantles where it cannot be used. However, thanks to the substrates of hydroponics, up to 60% more water can be saved.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of information: Not many people know what a hydroponic crop is and how it works. There are few experts and can be very difficult to contact or very expensive. On the other hand, many people need to learn in a more visual way.
  • High Initial Investment: Buying all the initial equipment necessary to have your own hydroponics centre is a little expensive. The good comes in the following crops since you will have all that equipment and you will not spend on it again. There are even many expensive tools and equipment that people want to sell you even though you really do not need it.
  • The high responsibility of the plant: A plant on land can be neglected a little more, as we have natural aspects (such as rain) that help its growth. However, in hydroponics, the farmer is responsible for monitoring the irrigation of the plants. In addition, it is necessary to check the nutrients frequently so that the crop is always in a good state.
  • Not available for all plants: Although hydroponic crops are very varied, they cannot always be done with all the seeds. Plants that have their fruit underground (potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc.) cannot be planted by hydroponics. There are also other plants that need a lot of lands to grow (like trees ) and that sometimes it is very impractical to cultivate using this technique.

As we could see, hydroponics has many advantages that make it ideal for cultivation in the not too distant future. As this technique is popularised and used commercially, you can start by growing crops in your home.