What is Hydroponics ?

The word hydroponics originated from Latin that merely means working water. In layman’s terms, hydroponics is the art of growing crops without using soil. When we immediately think of the art of hydroponics, we imagine plants growing with the roots suspended in the water without having any medium. Well, this is true, as it is one form of hydroponics gardening which has been referred to as nutrient film technique or NFT.

Nutrient film tech has diverse variations to it that have been used around the world, which has become a prevalent method in growing hydroponically. Most people don’t realize there are several methods and alternatives you could use in hydroponic gardening.

Hydroponics is a concept or an art that has been around for years but is becoming more popular than ever before, the math is more straightforward than you think, if you give a plant precisely what it needs at the right time in the exact amount it will need it, then nothing stops the plant from being healthy.

And with the use of hydroponics, it is much easier, while in the soil the task might be a little tricky.  In hydroponics, the plants are usually grown in an inert-growing medium that has been perfectly balanced. There is a pH balanced solution that is delivered to the roots of the plants in a soluble form. Thus, this allows your plant to take in the needed food with minimal effort. Whereas in the soil option the roots of the plants will need to search out the required nutrients and later extract them.

I am sure growing medium is a term you have come across with questions in mind. A growing medium is a material that you will use for the roots of the plants to grow in. It includes a wide range of varieties such as Rockwool, coconut fiber, sand, gravel, and vermiculite, just to name a few. The medium used is an inert substance that will not supply any form of nutrition to the plants as the needed nutrition will come from the nutrient solution.

The nutrient solution is a combination of water and fertilizer. As a result, this method of gardening is referred to as an art as you can control everything that your plant will receive. Without proper information, some might find this type of gardening to be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

The method can be as simple as you grow a single plant in a nursery pot or bucket while using any number of growing mediums. With no need for electricity or automation required to grow the plant.  But you always have the option to apply technology in your garden, it is only limited by your imagination and of course your current budget.

Let us begin by defining the two methods. Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics and agriculture. That is, raising both aquatic animals and growing your crops in water. In this kind of system, the water that is used to raise the aquatic animals is pumped into the roots of the growing plants above. This way the roots get all the nutrients they will need to thrive in this system.

In turn, the plants also extract nutrients and make the water clean, which is then returned to the tanks where the fish are stored.  It is truly a seamless synergetic relationship that takes place over and over. In the hydroponics system, there is no need for dirt. Instead, the roots of the plants will be fed a solution that has been packed with the entire needed nutrient while it is still growing in water or any other growing medium that you would want to incorporate.

Some of the conventional mediums that are used in this system are gravel and perlite. Both the above systems work will with each holding a specific advantage over the traditional way of gardening. Both methods are low maintenance, able to produce a healthy harvest regularly and can be grown indoors. Thus, you are able to garden through any weather conditions.

The method that will work best for you is relative to your growing situation. If you are thinking about home gardening, choosing either option greatly depends on the amount of space you have in your growing room. But if you want to get into commercial growing, studies have shown the aquaponics option to be superior in production and have less environmental impact. The research was conducted on two options of gardening, and it was found that hydroponics held a higher edge in the greenhouse production of plants over the aquaponics system.

But this was up to a certain point. Another report published in 2004 had an updated chart, which showed that the aquaponics system took about six months for the microbiology to change the fish waste into food for the plants. From that research, aquaponics made a leap over the hydroponic system. As aquaponics was able to produce a much faster maturing produce that had heavier harvest; furthermore, there was another test conducted that found growing plants in the aquaponics system in the cold regions was superior to growing them in the hydroponic system. 

Not every individual will agree that aquaponics is slightly superior from the two. But it is clear that plants will grow much faster and yield better crops than the hydroponic system. Not forgetting you are also raising fish that can provide you with another revenue stream or another type of meal for your family. Let us not forget it is also much cheaper for you to feed your fish that will in turn feed the plants.

With the abundance of advantages, aquaponics will offer a good option if you are jumping into commercial gardening.  But if it is just for home growing it’s all personal and subjective. It’s like owning a canvas; you are able to paint your home gardening with any system you will want.    

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