The word hydroponics comes from the Greek language. In Greek, the word hydro means ‘water,’ while ponics comes from the Greek root word ponein, meaning ‘to toil or labor.’ The two words together – hydroponics – literally mean ‘working water.’
The term hydroponics refers to the process of growing plants without any soil, but instead in a different material. The nutrients that plants and life require to grow are normally obtained from the soil itself. In hydroponics, these minerals are added to plants to encourage and support their growth in the form of a mineral solution. This process allows plants to grow without any soil whatsoever!
How Does Hydroponics Work?
The way that the process of hydroponics works is what makes it so very interesting. Some plants that exist already are grown with hydroponics – that is, without requiring the support of soil.
The process through which plants grow is known as photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the cycle that plants go through and how they produce energy. Plants absorb light energy (sunlight), minerals, water, and CO2 (carbon dioxide). They use them together with chlorophyll to make sugar (glucose), which is the plant’s energy or food.
Soil is not an absolute essential for the growth of a plant. It is more a supporter and something that carries the components or ingredients that plants need to grow in abundance. Even though soil is rich in nutrients and all the naturally occurring substances that plants require to grow well, it does not mean that soil is essential for plant growth.
What’s The Point In Hydroponics?
The process of hydroponics has been used for a very long time. It’s especially useful for growing plants where fertile soil is scarce or not present at all. Since hydroponics involves having the plant’s roots grow from mineral-rich water beneath, no soil or anything but water and nutrients is required for the process to take place.
Thanks to hydroponics, we can grow and cultivate plants in areas where they otherwise would never exist.
Advantages and Disadvantages Of Hydroponics
There is no doubt that the process of hydroponics has its advantages and disadvantages, similar to other things. At the same time, there is no doubt that if hydroponics is done properly and well by the correctly trained people, it can be a phenomenal success. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics.
Advantages of Hydroponics
- Less space is required – due to the fact that no soil is needed to house the plants in, hydroponics takes up less space and produces the same results
- Easy to Control – whoever is cultivating the plants can decide exactly what nutrients to use as well as how much. Over time, experts can gauge precisely what different plant species require for maximum yields. In this context, yield refers to crop production per unit area. It can also refer to a farm’s total production.
- Not Physically Demanding – harvesting plants that have been grown hydroponically is much easier compared to what happens in a traditional farm.
- Versatile and can be grown at any time – normally speaking, outside plants would be limited by time in terms of when they can and cannot grow. Hydroponics, however, allows plants to grow at any time of the year assuming they are under the right conditions.
- Efficient – not only do plants grow well using hydroponics, they also grow more quickly since they are getting exactly what they need in precisely the right quantities, and at exactly the right times
- Easy to set up – hydroponics, which requires the minimum of equipment, can be used just about anywhere.
- Not Heavy on Resources – hydroponics is very controlled and requires considerably less water and fewer resources than a traditional farm.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
- Cost – a good hydroponics system can be costly to manage in terms of both money and time. It requires high maintenance if you seek to obtain the best results, and nutrients can become quite costly if you’re buying a lot.
- Risk of disease – given that the plants are all being grown in the same water, water-borne diseases can spread rapidly, and may affect and possibly destroy a whole crop.
- Greater risk of serious adverse effects – soil protects the roots of plants. If the roots are in water, they don’t have the same level protection. If anything goes wrong, the risk of serious adverse effects is much greater.
Where It All Happens – The Root Zone & Temperature
The root zone is arguably the most important part of the entire hydroponics process. The roots of the plant, as you will probably know, are where everything is absorbed that allows the plants above to grow and thrive. It is, therefore, extremely important that this area is maintained properly and carefully.
It is extremely important that the root zone of any hydroponics processes is maintained at the correct temperature. Excessively high or low temperatures can significantly undermine a plant’s ability to grow properly.
When the root zone is too warm, the plant may not get enough oxygen. This may slow down growth, or even kill the plant.
If you notice that your plants are not growing properly, you need to check the temperature of the root zone. A hydroponics water chiller helps prevent overheating.
Global hydroponics crop value is forecast to reach $27.29 billion by the end of 2022. Food experts say that by the middle of this century, the world’s population will have exceeded 9 billion. We will need to increase food production significantly if we want to prevent widespread famine.
Hydroponics, with its relatively high yields and limited space requirements, may be the best way to make sure future generations have enough food.