The most important aspects of Indoor Grow hydroponics are climate control, the minimal use of water, and the nutrient solution’s pH. Listed below are some additional benefits of hydroponics. Learn about them today and start reaping the rewards of growing your own food. Despite its many advantages, hydroponics requires careful management and training. But what is it all about? What are the main differences between this system and conventional farming?
Using the greenhouse structure to grow vegetables in a climate-controlled environment is called hydroponics. Growing plants in such a climate-controlled environment can be very beneficial for local farmers, particularly in areas of limited water and poor soil quality. NASA is currently experimenting with hydroponics to grow vegetables in space. NASA astronauts are now eating the first vegetables grown in space! These experiments are changing the way we grow and eat plants.
Hydroponic farming was first described by Dr. W.E. Gericke in 1937. The fluid dynamics of water changed the architecture of plant roots, allowing them to absorb nutrients better and grow bigger. Since then, scientists have refined the nutrient solution, containing 13 micro and macronutrients for the health and growth of plants. In this way, they can provide the nutrients necessary for plants in a climate-controlled environment.
Water efficiency is another major benefit of hydroponics. It is up to 10 times more efficient than conventional farming methods. Hydroponic systems do not waste water by using water for irrigation, meaning the plants don’t have to spend a lot of time developing root systems. This means more time is spent on vegetative growth. And because the system automatically delivers nutrients to the water supply reservoir, the plants get precisely measured dozing at regular intervals.
In general, hydroponics is high-tech. Commercial hydroponic operations use highly advanced equipment for managing the water, pH, and nutrient density. These systems are better for disease control, mechanization, and agronomic technology, since they use less land and produce higher-yield crops faster. The process is also cheaper than conventional methods since no soil is required.
In addition to the greenhouse’s temperature control, the temperature and light also influence plant growth. The greenhouse environment should be uniform and consistent day-to-day. These environmental variables can be regulated using supplemental lighting. Supplemental lighting can consume up to 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity per square foot of lighted space and should be primarily run at nighttime or off-peak hours. Because the greenhouse is not open all day long, supplemental lighting may be interrupted or erratic.
Using Less Water
Hydroponics systems have several advantages over conventional agriculture, and the most notable is that they use less water. Most farmers have to invest large sums of money to start a hydroponic operation, which limits the number of small growers. This type of farming also requires less energy and water, and it allows plants to grow closer together. This method also reduces the distance that the food has to travel before it reaches consumers.
Energy use estimates for hydroponic lettuce production show that it consumes eighty-two percent less energy per kilogram of lettuce than conventional agriculture. The largest contributors to hydroponic energy use are heating and cooling loads. Circulating pumps make up the smallest percentage of the total energy use. The overall energy use for hydroponic lettuce production is ninety thousand plus eleven thousand kJ/kg/year.
Plants in hydroponic systems also don’t need to be treated with pesticides. The lack of exposure to pests and plant diseases prevents a variety of problems. Furthermore, indoor hydroponics systems require very little water. And the water is retained in the system for days. The resulting plants have higher water content and lower water use compared to traditional agriculture. The system uses ten percent of the water required to grow a crop in conventional soil.
Head lettuce was the second-largest vegetable crop in the United States in 2012, and Yuma is home to 29% of the production of the crop. Since Arizona uses six9% of its freshwater withdrawals, hydroponic alternatives could be used to reduce this strain on the environment. Unfortunately, few studies have been conducted to compare hydroponic lettuce production to conventional agriculture. However, many people are still curious about what hydroponic lettuce production looks like.
There are ‘good practices’ for minimizing pest infestation in hydroponics, but many of these require know-how and vigilance. The most important one is avoiding opportunities that pests find irresistible. Here are some ways to avoid pest infestation:
First, you can avoid soil. As a result, you will not have to use large quantities of soil-based pesticides. Additionally, the absence of soil means that fewer nutrients can build up in the soil. Furthermore, you’ll reduce soil erosion and air pollution, which is a major issue with traditional soil-based agriculture. Second, reducing pollution is important for both the health of humans and for native plant species. Integrated pest management is a common approach to insect pest control in hydroponics.
Third, biopesticides and insect growth regulators are excellent options for greenhouse hydroponic growers. These methods of pest control are often favored by the food industry. Biorationals include botanicals and microbial agents like Bacillus thuringiensis and Beavaria bassiana. Insect growth regulators are fungi that inhibit insect maturation. These biorationals are a natural way to protect your plants without using pesticides.
Growing plants without soil in hydroponic systems have many benefits. For starters, hydroponic farms are often located in regions that don’t have access to fresh produce. Moreover, hydroponic farms reduce the number of food miles between the growing plant and the end-user. This makes it possible to provide fresh food to people in areas where there is little access to traditional food. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, there are few sources of leafy greens.
Monitoring the pH of the Nutrient Solution
A major component of hydroponics is monitoring the pH of the nutrient solution. pH is a crucial parameter, as it determines whether specific nutrients are available to your plants. If the pH level is too high or too low, your plants may suffer from deficiencies in calcium, magnesium, and copper. Conversely, a pH level over 6.5 can result in iron deficiency. In hydroponics, the pH level of the solution can change significantly because the system is more concentrated, which results in wide fluctuations. Hence, you must test the pH level of the solution regularly.
If your hydroponics grow medium contains inorganic media, it may change the pH level. You should try to maintain the pH level near seven. If the meter shows an incorrect reading, you can simply recalculate the pH level by adding some water. However, you should be aware of the fact that pH levels can also be affected by other factors. For example, the presence of bacteria or algae may cause a change in pH level. These can be avoided by keeping the pH level slightly acidic and paying attention to the health of your plants’ roots.
One of the best ways to check the pH level of the nutrient solution in hydroponics is by using a pH meter. These meters are made by scientists and growers. You can purchase a pH meter for around $100. You can also get a specialized pH meter that allows you to check the pH of your nutrient solution in the same way.
When using pH meters, it is important to use a litmus paper to test the nutrient solution. These are inexpensive and widely available. In general, they are easy to use. All you need to do is place a few drops of nutrient solution into a vial and shake it. Then, compare the result with a pH chart to ensure accuracy. The most accurate way to monitor the pH levels of nutrient solutions is to use a digital pH meter, but you can always go back to the old-fashioned way and use litmus paper.