The world population is increasing at an alarming rate so it becomes important to look for alternatives that are environmentally sustainable and friendly. So, it is clear that the need for food and product farming has increased and will continue to increase in the future. One of the best ways to achieve the future needs of foods and crops is “Hydroponics”. It is basically growing plants with the help of water (without soil). It is widely being used to cultivate a lot of plants in habitats that would help in sustaining them.
The idea of growing vegetable without soil is a type of agriculture in which plants are grown on beds or trays which are constantly fed with the nutrient solution for proper growth and culture. Product hydroponics is free from harmful pesticides, insecticides and harmful chemicals that can be extremely damaging for the body.
How does Hydroponics work?
Conventional farming methods involve the use of soil for cultivation to enrich the roots. However, in hydroponics, the use of artificial mediums and solutions that has ionic compounds helps in nurturing the plants. Many times plant growth is restrained because of environmental factors. A constant supply of water and nutrients makes hydroponic more efficient and productive.
Advantages of Hydroponics
- More Productivity: By using nutrient solutions, heaters, artificial lights and other types of equipment ultimately provide the solution that increases crop production. This leads to increased yield, faster growth, and all year round production.
- More environmental friendly: The best part of a hydroponic system is that the water can be recycled. Along with that, you save a lot of soil and land. No requirement of insecticides and pesticides makes it even better.
- Suited for areas which are not feasible for traditional farming: Hydroponics growing beds or trays can be easily stacked anywhere. Almost, every condition can be controlled artificially.
- An easy way for monoculture: Different types of crops can be grown at the same time. So the on-demand crops can be focused. You do not have to worry about crop rotation.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
- Cost for set-up is high: Setting a hydroponic farm can be quite expensive. All the equipments need to be purchased before setting the hydroponic farm.
- Expensive running cost: Most of the control systems like pumps, heaters, water purifiers etc. need power supply which can be a little expensive.
- Monitoring: Although hydroponic farms need less labor but hydroponic products need to be monitored from time to time, unlike conventional farming.
- Expertise and skills: Hydroponics needs to be understood at first which means the farmer first needs to understand the idea behind hydroponics to get best results which is quite difficult to understand.
Theoretically, hydroponics can be used to grow a variety of crops. But mostly the method is used to grow plants that can grow effectively under hydroponic conditions. Product hydroponics includes crops like lettuce, cucumbers, herbs, peppers, tomatoes, spinach etc. Disease resistant varieties are also popular with product hydroponic culture.
Over the years, technology has evolved and revolutionized in almost every field. Our perspective towards life as well as the world has drastically changed with the rise in technology. This tech-savvy world has almost brought our resources and tools at fingertips. But that is not it, technology is not just refrained from work or games it is much more than that. It is drastically impacting our lifestyle and well-being. Hydroponics and Aquaponics is the latest example of use of technology in an eco-friendly, natural, organic and sustainable way.
As the world continuously tries to evolve in various sectors like health, so are the gardening techniques. Hydroponics and Aquaponics are few examples of gardening methods that are drastically being adopted by people. Probably, because these techniques can yield much more than the conventional method of soil gardening. Now Let us have a close look at what these techniques are and what they can offer to us.
What is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is an organic gardening method in which plants are grown in liquid, sand, coconut fiber, clay, gravel or any material that supports plant growth other than soil. Water carries the nutrients to the roots which are increased along with liquid plant food. All in all this method uses water and chemical nutrients to cultivate the plant.
Benefits of Hydroponics:
- No use of soil which ultimately results in saving space and other issues like weed growth, pests, and other soil-borne diseases.
- Faster growth, higher yields, and better quality crops.
- Water conservation because hydroponics uses 90% lesser water than traditional methods of gardening.
- Nutrient levels can be controlled which results in less requirement of nutrients.
- Can be grown all around the year.
What is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics combines the technique of aquaculture with hydroponics. Aquaponic is a balanced ecosystem in which fish and plants are in a symbiotic relationship that mutually benefits the plants as well as the fish. Just like, hydroponics growth media and pumps are used in this process, but Aquaponics uses organic fish waste as a nutrient for the plants. Plants naturally help in cleaning out the water in aqua tanks, so it requires less cleaning and maintenance. Aquaponics is widely used across Australia as an organic method to cultivate so many plants and crops.
Benefits of Aquaponics:
- No additional nutrients need to be used as it uses organic waste produced by the fish as a fertilizer.
- The organic fish waste can easily be disposed using the drain and can also be used in composting.
- The natural system easily balances out and does not require much maintenance. Only periodic checking of pH, nitrate and ammonia levels is required.
- Can be grown all around the year.
Which one is better?
Both systems work well as they are organic and have advantages over the conventional methods of soil gardening. However, Aquaponic seems to be more beneficial in production as well as is suitable in various environmental conditions. In Aquaponic system plants grow rapidly and the yields are better. The overall system also produces fish that benefits as an additional income, and it works on feeding the fish which is cheaper than feeding the plants. It also saves water due to recycling nature as compared to hydroponics.
From a commercial point of view, Aquaponic culture has a stronger exposition than its counterpart hydroponic. But for a gardener, it is more subjective whatever is suitable you can choose, as both are organic methods of gardening.
An aquaponics system offers food to both vegetarians and non-vegetarians as fish and plants are grown in the same system. In the aquaponics, fish holds a little more important position as the growth of plants depends on it. The waste of food and fish is dissolved in the water. The waste actually consists of all nutrients essentially required for the growth of plants. The water containing these nutrients is transferred from the fish tank to the growth bed. These nutrients are extracted by plants and the purified water is returned to the fish tank and a healthy environment is created for fish. Therefore, one should rear the right fish. Continue reading
Aquaponics is a re-circulating environment in which aquatic animals and plants are cultivated in one system. The term re-circulating environment is used because of the circulation of water between the fish tank and the grow bed. The decomposed food and fish waste in the fish tank produce nutrients which are dissolved in water. The water containing nutrient from the fish tank is then drawn off to the grow bed. Nutrients are extracted by the roots of plants and used for growth.
For growing food and fish, following are the equipment and accessories you need for aquaponics system:
- Fish Tanks: The size of the fish tank depends on the number of fish you want to nurture. You will also need stands for positioning the tank.
- Grow bed: Fruits and vegetables are cultivated on the grow bed.
- Bio-filters: These filters degrade and process water pollutants biologically for controlling water pollution and keeping the system running efficiently.
- Clarifiers: These are used for removing solids from water and also the water in the recirculation system when required.
- Pumps: These are required for circulating water between the fish tank and the grow bed. Pumps also pass the water through bio-filters for cleaning.
- The oxygen system: Excellent oxygen distribution system is essentially required for keeping fish alive and healthy.
- Fish and plants: Different types of plants are grown in different types of aquaponics systems. Choose the right fish for supporting the plant environment.
Apart from these, there are various other smaller accessories like pipes, tubes etc which are required to keep the system running. The best place purchasing all these equipment and accessories is Hydroponicxpress.
So, if you want to buy aquaponics accessories and/or want to learn aquaponics technique for cultivating plants and fish then visit Hydroponicxpress now!
Maurice and Steve presenting from the 2013 Perth Royal Show and show you how to put together your aquaponics system.
Part two of the Greenfingers and Carey Baptist College aquaponics system installation. Steve Woods presenter at Greenfingers and Maurice van Aurich discuss how to release the fish in an aquaponics system.
Hydroponic Xpress and Aquaponics WA in conjunction with the Garden Gurus presents Rossmoyne Primary with their new aquaponics system.