Benefits of Hydroponic Growing
By Space Coast Daily // October 15, 2020
Many experts believe that hydroponic farming is the way of the future. They have good reasons for making this assertion. Read on to learn about the top benefits of hydroponic growing to get on the same page.
Unprecedented Environmental Control
Hydroponic farms and gardens allow growers to manage every aspect of their plants’ environments and life cycles to ensure optimal yields. Since these systems are typically set up indoors, growers can control everything from temperature to lighting schedules in order to maximize plant vitality and productivity.
Those new to hydroponic farming can check out the blog by Agron to find out everything they need to know about what equipment to buy to get started.
Grow Almost Anywhere
Indoor hydroponic systems allow farmers to grow plants in locations where the soil is too poor to support conventional farming or the season is too short to grow high-value crops.
Since everything happens indoors, hydroponic systems can be set up just about anywhere. That includes cities, where local produce, flowers, and other consumables usually need to be shipped in from rural areas at great cost to distributors, consumers, and the environment.
There are few locations in the world that support year-round growing outdoors in soil-based gardens. Hydroponic systems work just as well in the dead of winter as they do in the height of summer provided farmers can supply adequate heat and light.
This allows both hobby growers and commercial farmers to extend their growing seasons, allowing them to harvest crops year-round. That way, consumers will have access to the goods they need freshly produced from local farms and farmers will be able to charge premium prices for food and other agricultural products that would otherwise be unavailable.
More Efficient Water Use
Fresh, clean water is quickly becoming hard to come by due to pollution and poor resource management practices. Hydroponic growing uses up to 90% less water than traditional, soil-based systems. Growers can filter and reuse the water repeatedly instead of allowing it to run off into the local aquifer, taking valuable nutrients with it.
Lower Space Requirements
Hydroponic systems are perfect for vertical farming. Combined with the increased yields that result from better environmental controls, this allows farmers to increase production by up to ten times as much using the same amount of space. This is another reason that hydroponic gardening and farming is taking off in cities, where the cost of land can be exorbitantly high.
Hydroponic systems don’t completely eradicate pests and diseases, but they do significantly reduce the chances of plants coming under attack. That means farmers need to use fewer pesticides and other chemicals. The fact that hydroponic systems are controlled so carefully means there’s no need for herbicides since weeds won’t be introduced into the system, and growers who are careful about keeping insects and other pests out of their indoor farms or grow rooms shouldn’t have to worry about infestations.
On average, plants grown in hydroponic systems reach maturity 30 to 50% faster than their soil-based counterparts. The reason plants grow faster in hydroponic systems is that they receive ideal nutrient concentrations and are not exposed to the same environmental stresses.
In outdoor gardens, plants can suffer damage or stunted growth as a result of exposure to pests, diseases, weeds, and even inclement weather events. Those environmental stressors will be all but eradicated when farmers make the switch to indoor hydroponic growing.
Plants grow healthier in hydroponic systems. There aren’t any soil-borne diseases to contend with, nor do the plants have to compete with weeds. Plus, they don’t have to spread roots out to search for nutrients, which means they can expend more of their energy on producing healthy new growth.
There are a few reasons hydroponic systems produce higher yields per square foot. First, the plants can be grown in smaller spaces and can be set up in vertical systems.
Second, the plants grow faster and healthier, which means they’ll produce larger, healthier fruits and flowers. Finally, growing indoors allows farmers to extend their seasons to allow year-round growing, which means they can continue to produce crops after the initial harvest season is over.
Don’t Contribute to Soil Erosion
Aside from dwindling supplies of fresh, clean water, soil erosion is arguably the most serious threat facing today’s conventional farmers. Conventional agriculture has eroded away half the Earth’s arable land in just 150 years. Since hydroponic systems don’t use soil, they don’t contribute to this troubling trend.
The water in hydroponic systems can be recycled almost indefinitely as long as farmers make sure it is adequately filtered and kept at proper pH levels. That means no agricultural runoff. On conventional farms, agricultural runoff contributes to both soil degradation and local ecosystem damage. The excess nutrients can cause nitrification of local waterways and wreak havoc on plant and animal populations. That’s not the case with hydroponic systems.
Can Be Automated
As hydroponic farming continues to grow in popularity, technology has been keeping pace. Today’s indoor growers can automate nearly every aspect of their operations to ensure that things keep running smoothly even when they aren’t around to monitor environmental conditions. They can set lights and nutrient delivery systems to timers, make use of remote sensors to monitor things like pH levels, and control thermostats and air quality devices from just about anywhere.
Using artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), modern farmers can reduce their manual workloads and improve their yields. These trends should continue as technology continues to improve.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of good reasons that modern farmers are switching to hydroponics in ever-increasing numbers. Those listed above are just a few of them.
Hydroponic systems are the future of not just commercial farming, but also hobby growing, so those who want to keep up with the changing times would do well to jump on the bandwagon now. While it’s true that the initial startup cost for purchasing hydroponic equipment is comparatively high, the decision will pay off in the long run.