Kadambini Alva P.
The BioTalk Magazine

HYDROPONICS as the name suggests is the system of growing plants without a soil system,
simply by using mineral nutrient solutions and water solvent. It does not use soil, instead the root
system is supported using inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss or
vermiculture. Despite the inert media, roots can cause changes to the rhizosphere and the root
exudates can change the rhizosphere biology.

The nutrient solutions used in the system can come from a variety of different sources, including
duck manure, fish excrement, chemical fertilizers or artificial nutrient solutions. Some plants have
revealed capacities to grow in hydroponic systems fed with wastewater, reducing the pollutant
loads. Thus, the hydroponic systems constitute a promising future in biotechnology for food
production and wastewater treatment.

There are many advantages of the hydroponic system, the most important being reduced water
usage in agriculture and thus lesser evaporation. Because of the lack of water needed to grow fresh
produce, it would be possible in future for harsh environments, which don’t have much accessible
water, to be able to grow their own food.

Another advantage is increased rate of growth in the plants. With an appropriate setup, plants will
mature 25% faster and produce 30% more than the same plants grown in soil. Plants will grow
bigger and faster because they will not have to work as hard to obtain the nutrients. Even a small
root system will provide the plant exactly what it needs, so the plant will focus more on growth
than expanding its root system.

There are different techniques of the hydroponic system depending on home-grown or commercial
application. Irrespective of where it is applied, hydroponic system widely uses plastic containers
(although other materials have been used too) and must exclude light to prevent algal and fungal
growth in the nutrient solution.

Hydroponics is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff
and hence is a promising solution for future where crisis of water and scarcity of food appear to
be accelerating.

Despite all the advantages, there are a few disadvantages of this system. It needs a supply of fresh
water failing which the plants may die. On a commercial scale, the setup may take a lot of time, a
pump failure will result in the death of all plants and the cost is more than its soil counterpart.

Hydroponics is yet an excellent choice for all types of growers. It is a great choice because it gives
you the ability to meticulously control the variables that affect how well your plants grow. A finetuned hydroponics system can easily surpass a soil based system in plant quality and amount of
produce yielded.

If you want to grow the biggest, yummiest and juiciest plants you can possibly imagine, then
hydroponics is the right choice for you. It may seem intimidating at first with all the equipment
and work involved, but it will all seem simple once you get a hang of the basics.

Start small, keep it simple and your hydroponics system will never cease to amaze you.

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