What Does Hydroponics Mean?
The term Hydroponics comes from the Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labor). It is a soilless growing technique that utilizes a nutrient and water solution in place of the nutrients that a plant extracts from soil. This allows the plants’ nutrient uptake to be much more efficient than soil-grown, resulting in greater yields from less inputs.
Maximum Yield Explains Hydroponics
The roots of hydroponically grown plants are maintained in a pH balanced nutrient solution which requires the lowest energy possible for the absorption and processing of all key nutrients. These reduced energy requirements contribute to more extensive fruit and flower production.
This nutrient solution can consist of many components including but not limited to: bat guano, seaweed extract, fish excrement, fish skeletons and shells, and various chemically- or organically-derived components.
Hydroponics generally involves an inert medium for root support, but it can be achieved without any medium at all in some methods such as aeroponics.
The main advantages of hydroponics are:
- High oxygen levels contribute to faster nutrient absorption, faster growth rate, and larger yields.
- Increased control of nutrient and environmental factors ensures quality oversight.
- A year-round, non-seasonal growing window.
- Requirement of substantially less water than soil growing.
- Due to cleaner, more sterile ecosystems, hydroponics has a lower risk of pests and pathogens and therefore requires less pesticides use.
The main hydroponics methods are:
Deep Water Culture (DWC)—Roots are suspended in the nutrient solution with high oxygen levels to prevent the roots from drowning.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)—An inclined channel allows for a continuous low-level flow of nutrient solution over exposed plant roots.
Ebb & Flow/Flood & Drain—Roots are immersed in the nutrient solution at intervals between which they are exposed to air.
Drip System—Provides a slow feed of nutrient solution into the growing medium.
Wick System—A passive system utilizing capillary action to deliver the nutrient solution to plant roots.
Variations can include:
Aeroponics—Roots suspended in air are sprayed/misted with the nutrient solution.
Aquaponics—Utilizes live fish and key bacteria for the production of the nutrient solution.