Why Use Hydroponics: Top Reasons You Should Consider Hydroponic Gardening
You have likely heard of hydroponics if you have a home or commercial garden. Of course, this planting method is not new. In fact, it has been used to build the hanging gardens of Babylon in ancient times.
Hydroponic gardening offers a new way to grow plants with higher yields and less resource usage. In this article, we explore the benefits of hydroponics and why you should consider trying it for yourself. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Hydroponics?
The concept of hydroponics is simple. First, instead of soil, water is used for this type of gardening. Then, to provide needed nutrients for good yields, the water is mixed with solutions.
Depending on the plants, these nutrients can be nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, among many others. Hydroponics offers numerous benefits, most of which will be discussed below.
Why You Should Use Hydroponics
Hydroponics gardening requires significantly less space compared to traditional soil-based gardening. By using vertical farming techniques and a hydroponics system, you can reduce the amount of land needed by up to 99% compared to traditional farming methods. This makes hydroponics an excellent option for urban gardening and for maximizing the use of limited space.
Hydroponics plants take up a small area because the roots do not need to stretch out to get water and nutrients. Instead, the roots directly get water and nutrients constantly or intermittently, depending on the type of hydroponics you use.
Therefore, every root system of the plants only has a small footprint. Consequently, it is better to combine it with a vertical farming method so that you can appreciate more the small area hydroponics takes in outdoor or indoor gardening.
2. Saves Water
You might be wondering how water is more conserved in hydroponics when it uses water instead of soil. Nevertheless, less water is indeed needed to grow plants in hydroponics compared to soil.
When you use hydroponics gardening, your plants can grow with less than 98% water compared to other growing techniques. Moreover, in a report done by the World Health Organization in 2019, they said that only 71% of the population has access to safe drinking water.
This is crucial because half of the population will have difficulty accessing potable water in 2025 if this persists. As a result, because conserving water is becoming increasingly critical, irrigation for farmers will be more challenging and less sustainable.
In hydroponics, the plants use only 0.1% of the water absorbed in the roots of the plants. Most of the water is released into the air by evapotranspiration. Hydroponics utilizes circulating water, allowing the plants to take in the water they need and bring back the excess into the system.
As food production increases globally, so does water consumption. Using traditional planting techniques, it takes approximately 3 gallons of water to produce a single cup of lettuce. This is a significant amount of water, especially when considering the large amounts of food that are produced each year.
Meanwhile, approximately 11 gallons of water is required to get 2.7 oz of broccoli, and 8 gallons of water is necessary for 4.3 oz of tomatoes. So if you are determined to save water, using hydroponics can significantly help you with that.
3. Great for Indoor Gardening
Hydroponic gardening can be quickly done in a hydroponics greenhouse and other similar structures. Indoor gardens have micro-climates. That means they are protected from harsh environmental conditions, which are common issues with traditional gardening.
In addition, using hydroponics for indoor gardening means your plants are also not exposed to pests, so there is no need to use insecticides.
Moreover, growing plants any time of the year is possible in a temperature-controlled setting because the weather is not an issue. Furthermore, you also do not have to worry about overexposure to sunlight because artificial grow lights are available.
4. More Yields
An ideal growing environment makes it possible for plants to get the nutrients they need directly from their roots. Aside from making it possible to plant crops any time of the year, they grow faster.
As a result, there are more yields compared to traditional planting techniques. For example, it has been reported that hydroponic greenhouses can produce 240 times more yields compared to other planting techniques.
5. Less Work
Since you do not need to till, weed, apply herbicides or insecticides, and other farming tasks, hydroponic gardening means engaging in less labor.
As a result, you can save a lot of time and effort since your farming time can be managed more easily. In fact, a small hydroponics garden can be managed entirely by one person. Aside from saving time, you can also save money from growing crops using hydroponics.
6. No Soil Needed
The world is rapidly losing arable soil. In fact, over the past century, approximately half of the world’s topsoil has disappeared. This is due to various factors, including soil structure loss, erosion, nutrient deficiency, salinity, and compaction.
So, how does this affect farming? More and more people are needed to be fed, but the fertile soil available is decreasing. Moreover, the soil quality in different places widely varies.
Many plants also have varied preferences when it comes to the type of soil. Therefore, farmers and gardeners have limitations on the crops they can grow in their areas.
Only a few crops can be planted using traditional techniques in most countries. However, the soil type and quality are not a problem in hydroponic gardening. Therefore, you can grow any crop or plant you want without the risk of degrading soil.
7. Better Food Quality
People always prefer fresh fruits and vegetables. Nevertheless, there are only a few places where fresh fruits and vegetables are available all year because of their soil condition and weather.
The question now is how to obtain and make quality crops available to most people across the globe, even when it is off-season?
What is done in traditional methods is that farmers harvest the produce before it becomes ripe. Then, they allow the crop to ripen in warehouses together with other supplies. In addition, there are times that ethylene gas is utilized to ripen produce artificially.
These methods need to be done in traditional farming so that crops can be delivered in many places. Nevertheless, crops that naturally ripen contain more nutrients and taste better.
Since hydroponics gardens have their own microbiome, it is possible to grow produce anywhere. As a result, farmers can harvest them more quickly because they ripe faster and can be delivered to and enjoyed more at homes and restaurants.
8. Uses Less Energy
Traditional farming methods require a large amount of energy and water to produce high yields. After the crops are harvested, they are transported long distances in refrigerated trucks and trains, which uses even more energy. This transportation is necessary to deliver the crops to various locations.
However, refrigerated trains and trucks use a lot of fuel. To make the shelf life of these crops longer, chemicals are often added for preservation.
On the other hand, when hydroponics is used, a significant amount of the energy needed can be reduced. In fact, hydroponic gardens can be built in areas where traditional gardens or farms are not ideal.
Therefore, hydroponics can help many local communities without consuming a lot of energy and using artificial preservation methods.
In addition, since the process has been simplified, local and urban communities can grow quality crops and transport them more easily. Not only is waste significantly lessened, but the produce is also fresher.
9. More Predictable
Every summer, you likely buy strawberries since they are fresh, delicious, and more affordable during this season.
In contrast, when you purchase them in winter, they are three times more expensive. They also don’t taste as good. Therefore, seasons are crucial for traditional farmers.
However, these farmers often have to deal with problems related to unpredictable weather. That is because it can destroy all their crops in a few days.
Drought, floods, pests, and fires are among the many disasters that can happen anywhere at any period. The food chain is disrupted when a huge disaster hits an area that grows a specific crop.
The farmer controls the conditions of hydroponic gardens or greenhouses. Therefore, it is up to you if you want to plant strawberries and harvest them in winter.
If there are locusts and other pest infestations in the area, your hydroponic garden can protect your crops from these. Moreover, commercial growers can engage in better contracts and offer better prices. Whatever the weather, they can provide the crops needed.
10. Crops Grow Quicker
Many fruits and vegetables can take a few months before they are ready for harvest using traditional methods.
The process is slow because it takes time for the plants to absorb the nutrients they need from the soil. Moreover, the maturation of the plants often wastes these nutrients.
In contrast, a plant grown using hydroponics is 30% to 50% faster compared to plants grown in the soil. Moreover, nutrients can be more easily absorbed by plants through hydroponics.
In addition, you can also control the amount of water and nutrients, heat, light, and other factors in the growth of your plants. The growing process is simplified so that bigger and more plants can grow at a faster rate.
You now understand some of the many benefits of hydroponics gardening. By choosing hydroponics, you can reduce pollution and protect the environment. Additionally, the produce grown using hydroponics is tastier and more nutritious than traditionally grown plants. Furthermore, hydroponics can help address the growing global demand for food. Overall, hydroponics offers numerous advantages for both the environment and for healthy, sustainable food production.