Curious about this technical term – ‘Hydroponic farming‘ or ‘Hydroponics‘ – related to farming? If you have an interest in farming and the new technologies developed for advancement in the field, this article will be of much interest to you.
Have you ever heard of plants grown without soil? Sounds impossible right? But guess what, the technology has advanced to this level to introduce soil-less farming, called hydroponic farming. So, what exactly is this new phenomenon? Continue reading to know about this new type of farming.
What is Hydroponic Farming?
The agriculture business is researching innovative strategies to grow food in less space and with less water and resources as the world population grows. A step in the right direction is the hydroponic growing system. A hydroponic system, often known as soilless farming, is a method of growing plants without the use of soil. Plant roots develop in a liquid fertilizer solution or inside moist inert materials like Rockwool and Vermiculite in a hydroponic system. The liquid nutrient solution is a water-based blend of important plant nutrients. The plant roots are suspended in either a static liquid solution or a constantly flowing nutrition solution. Unlike traditional farming, the hydroponic growing system necessitates constant attention to the crops. The core elements needed for the same are freshwater with a balanced pH, oxygen, root support, nutrients, and light.
Types of Hydroponic Farming
When deciding between several hydroponic systems, understanding the fundamentals of each system will aid you in your decision. Below are the different types:
- Standing Aerated Nutrient Solution– This system is also known as DWC (deep water culture) system. A hydroponic system in which the nutrient solution is static and the plant roots are suspended in it. Every 5 to 10 days, the nutrient solution must be replaced (frequency depends on the number of plants and system volume). On Styrofoam sheets floating in an aerated nutrient solution, a crop like lettuce can be successfully produced in this technique.
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)- In this method, gully channels are utilized to grow plants, while the nutritional solution continues to flow through them. The nutrient solution is pumped to the NFT channels via a pump linked to the reservoir. One of the benefits of the NFT is how simple it is to install and how inexpensive the supplies are. These systems are divided into two categories:
1. NFT Horizontal System
2. NFT Vertical System
- Aeroponic System– Using an aeroponic system, you may substantially minimize the amount of water you use to cultivate your crops. Plant roots in this system obtain their nutrients and water from an aerosol mist sprayed on them. While suspended, plant roots absorb oxygen from the air. Aeroponic systems are more difficult to manage, but they are far more efficient in terms of fertilizer and water utilization.
- Dutch Bucket Grow System– As the name implies, this system grows plants in buckets. The size of these buckets might vary based on the grower’s needs. To support the growing plant, the bucket contains a growing medium such as vermiculite. The Dutch Bucket technique is used to produce plants with considerably larger roots, such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
Setup and Cost
Small Scale (Homes, etc.)– The setup and cost depend upon the scale of the production and intent. If you are looking to set up small-scale production at home as your hobby in your balcony, etc then it might cost you anything between Rs 6k to Rs 1 lakh or more, depending upon your need. There are a few online websites as well that sell home hydroponic kits for all ranges and help you set up.
Large Scale– If you’re thinking about starting your hydroponic farm on an industrial level then there are a few items that will consume a significant portion of your money such as:
- Land: The property where the hydroponic farm will be built should have adequate access to energy, water, and a local market.
- Outer Structure: The hydroponic farm’s outer structure protects the crops from the elements. The polyhouse type and the greenhouse type are the two most common types of exterior building.
- Growing System: The sort of plant you choose to cultivate in your hydroponic farm will determine the growing system.
- Temperature and Irrigation Controlling System: The temperature management system will keep the temperature at an ideal level for crop growth. The irrigation system will irrigate or pump the fertilizer solution to the growing system while also monitoring moisture levels.
The cost of establishing a hydroponic farm on one acre in India is projected to be between Rs. 1.45 crore and Rs. 1.80 crore including land and Rs 110 lakhs to Rs 150 lakhs excluding land. It’s an estimate that could change depending on the equipment you choose.
Is it Suitable for Home?
Hydroponics is slowly gaining traction in India, attracting an increasing number of enthusiasts. Hydroponic farming, which is soil-less, water-based farming, may be done even in a small place like a balcony or backyard. Instead of using soil for plant nutrition, crops are given nutrient-rich water, which avoids a lot of the drawbacks of soil-based methods, making it perfectly suitable to grow at home creating your small dream garden.
What Plants can be grown?
There’s a variety of plants that can be grown through hydroponic farming. Some examples are:
- Lettuce Plants– Butterhead, Leaf, Lollo Rossa, Oakleaf, Romaine, etc.
- Leafy Greens– Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Watercress, Dandelion, etc.
- Herb Plants– Basil, Cutting Celery, Chives, Cilantro, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Thyme, etc.
- Tomatoes, Radishes, Cucumbers, Beans, peppers, etc.
- Fruits like Strawberries, blueberries, etc.
Startups That Can Help You Start a Hydroponics Garden
- Chennai’s Acqua Farms
- Goa’s Letcetra Agritech
- Bengaluru-based BitMantis Innovations
- Hyderabad’s Urban Kissan
- Chennai Future Farms
- Cochin Ela Sustainable Solutions
- Himachal Pradesh’s Junga FreshnGreen
- Chandigarh’s Pindfresh
Why should you opt for hydroponic farming?
How many times have our favourite plants died because we couldn’t manage them through the traditional ways? You know exactly what circumstances your plants will be growing in with a hydroponic system making it a one-time formula to crack. They give your house a fresh and natural look. Other advantages include:
- There is no loss, and the plant nutrients are effectively employed, compared to the traditional agricultural approach.
- The hydroponic system is a climate-controlled environment in which vegetables can thrive all year.
- When compared to traditional farming methods, water usage is up to 80-90 per cent lower.
- Pests and insects cannot damage crops because they are grown in a confined environment.
Intrigued and Impressed? Start your journey with hydroponics farming right away to achieve a healthier and beautiful garden conveniently.