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Plants naturally grow on soil. But the idea of a soil-less base has been entertained hundreds of years ago. Since the early 1700’s, people have been experimenting on the possibilities of growing plants with only a container and water solution. Whatever the intentions were at that time, the hydroponics system is still very much a part of botanical and agricultural activities.
The hydroponic system or more popularly known as aquaculture is a scientific approach to growing plants under an unconventional environment. Typically, a seed is planted into the soil where it will be nurtured and expected to sprout.
As the seed starts to come to life, it develops a root system that will be anchoring itself on the soil. The roots’ natural purpose is to gather soil nutrients and feed these onto the rest of the budding plant.
But under the hydroponic system, the roots take nutrients from a water solution that is laced with inorganic ions. These are used as substitute to the soil nutrients that plants normally need to grow. In fact, these nutrients are more easily absorbed by the roots because they are already broken down into tinier components.
The basic elements found in the water solution are calcium, magnesium and potassium. These are positively charged ions that are one of the sources of nutrients for the plants. There are, however, other combinations of nutrient solutions used for different kinds of plants grown through aquaculture.
Types of Hydroponics
Solution culture and medium culture are the two basic types of aquaculture.
These are distinguished by the presence of a solid medium. However, keep in mind that soil is discounted from the list of possible medium where the plants can be nurtured.
The solution culture type has three subtypes: static, continuous-flow and aeroponics. This type is dependent solely on the water solution where it gets is basic nutritional supply.
On the other hand, the medium culture uses a solid medium which is basically intended for the roots and its nutrient source. Possible medium used include sand, gravel and rockwool.
Advantages of the Soil-less System
With natural resources dwindling at a fast rate, humans are in a race to find sustainable solutions to food production. Some scientists are advocating for the development and advancement of hydroponic systems to aid in human survival.
There are many reasons why aquaculture should be taken as a serious step towards ensuring the continued existence of present and future generations. It has several benefits that give it an edge when it comes to addressing food shortage.
Because it uses no soil, plants under the hydroponic system are not in danger of being eroded under extreme wet weather conditions. This is also a big advantage for farmers who can prioritize the planting of crops in soil; plants that may be otherwise difficult to grow using aquaculture technology.
The abundance of water based on the physical attributes of the planet guarantees plants of a steady supply. But as a sustainable system, the water can be constantly used and reused. This creates an impact on the maintenance cost which is generally lower than conventional farming methods.
The level of nutrition in the water can also be controlled. This means that plants which do not need high dosage of nutrients as compared with others can be treated with just enough amounts to keep them healthy. This also adds to a generally low maintenance cost for the operation of the whole system.
The controlled environment ensures the quality of the yield. Plants are not exposed to pollutants which could cause their deterioration even at the early stages of development and growth. The system is capable of managing the surrounding quality of water and air that should contribute to a more conducive environment for raising god quality crops.
This kind of system also helps in warding off agricultural pests and even plant diseases. The crops are less prone to developing soil-borne diseases because of the based used.