Future of Soil-less Farming.
With the world’s population nearing 7.5 billion and ever increasing rate of urbanisation in the past century have led to a decrease in the scale of agricultural lands. This has not only led to loss of production of food around the world but has also raised the pertinent question of food security. In this light Hydroponic Gardening is fast becoming a popular choice for many growers around the world due to its sustainable approach to resource usage than the usual growing pattern.
What is Hydroponics?
The science of soil-less gardening is called hydroponics. 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 hydroponics, plants are artificially supported, and a solution of ionic compounds provides nutrients instead. It basically involves growing healthy plants without the use of a traditional soil medium by using a nutrient like a mineral rich water solution.
The plants grow in an inactive medium, receiving all their nutrients through specially treated water. All nutrients and fertilizer required for plant growth are mixed into water, which passes through the medium and the passive systems rely on wick or the medium’s ability to absorb water.
How does Hydroponics Works?Plant growth is often limited by environmental factors. It is by applying a nutrient solution directly to a plant’s roots in a controlled environment, a farmer can ensure that the plant always has an optimal supply of water and nutrients.
This nutritional efficiency makes the plant more productive. It functions in these ways
A plant may be placed in an motionless substance (such as the volcanic glass perlite or rock wool) and have its roots periodically flooded with solution.
It could be placed in an inert substance and rained on by a solution dripper.
The plant could be suspended with its roots in the air, and then sprayed with solution in the form of mist.
The plant placed on a slightly sloping film that allows solution to trickle over its roots.
All of these systems mechanised in one way or another, usually using either a pump or a mister to deliver the solution from a separate store. The solution is also usually aerated to ensure that the roots are supplied with adequate oxygen. Mineral absorption requires energy, and is powered by respiration.
Types of Hydroponics
Hydroponic Raft Plants are grown on a ‘raft’ made of rigid Styrofoam floating in a pool of nutrient-rich water. This method allows growing an abundance of small, lightweight crops such as lettuce, spinach.
Vertical Hydroponics This type of gardening systems uses living walls or green walls, and can be either free standing or attached to a building structure. Plants are grown vertically on the walls.
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