Over the last decade, people’s interest in how their food is produced has increased greatly. More consumers want “safe” food that’s been produced with sustainable, mindful growing practices and is free from pesticide residues. As a result, more consumers are choosing to grow their own food and many are exploring hydroponics for doing so.
If you’re thinking of embarking on a hydroponics project, you’ll first need to learn the fundamental concepts of growing plants hydroponically. On this page, you’ll discover the basics of hydroponics as well as the advantages of using a hydroponics system.
While it may sound complex, growing plants in a hydroponics system has many benefits. Some of the most notable include:
1. An extended growing season
Cold climates with chilly winter temperatures and shorter day lengths prohibit plant growth. But with a hydroponics system, plants can be grown hydroponically year-round because the grower controls the temperature, light, and nutrient-supply.
2. Improved growth and yield
Hydroponics systems typically result in faster-growing, higher-yielding plants. This is likely due to the increased oxygen levels found in the nutrient solution and the carefully controlled environmental factors. By increasing a plant’s oxygen levels, you stimulate root growth and enhance nutrient uptake. These optimal growing conditions equate to less stress on plants and a more bountiful harvest.
3. Higher plant density
Plants grown in soil have rigid spacing guidelines that must be followed to allow each plant equal access to the soil’s somewhat limited supply of water and nutrients. Because hydroponics systems deliver a more nutrient-charged solution to the root zone, plants can be grown closer together without competing for root space.
4. Plants can grow anywhere
Unlike traditional gardens that require outdoor space for plants, hydroponics systems are easily incorporated into many homes, regardless of their size or location.
5. Less water consumption
Even though hydroponic systems depend primarily on water to grow plants, they use between 80 to 90% less water than plants grown in the ground. In traditional gardening, a large amount of water is applied to the soil to allow adequate moisture to reach the root zone. When moving through the soil, the water evaporates and only a percentage of it reaches the roots.
In hydroponics, the water immediately reaches the roots, with little lost to evaporation. In many systems, the nutrient solution is also recirculated multiple times before becoming unusable and discarded, further improving water efficiency.
6. Fewer pest problems
Because hydroponics systems are indoors, pests aren’t as prevalent and have controlled entrances. Insects find it more challenging to infiltrate the system and attack plants. Plus, fewer pest problems mean little to no need for pesticides.
7. Easier to harvest mature plants
Plants grown in hydroponics systems are typically grown on counters, benches, tables, etc., which puts them at waist height for most growers. At this height, mature plants are easier to harvest since there’s no need to bend down or kneel to reach the plants. This is an important advantage for growers with limited mobility or physical ailments that prevent them from gardening at ground-level.