The new-age technological research and development efforts have crafted a method to conduct urban-agriculture that uses what is called “hydroponics.” Hydroponics refers to a soil-less vegetable and plant growing method that uses a system that supplies the roots with a constant supply of water and nutrients. The system uses growing products such as clay pellets, coconut coir, rock and stone wool, peat moss, sand, gravel, and many other available materials.
This method of urban farming and growing removes the barriers from plants and their nutrients by giving them direct access to the water, nutrients, and oxygen. Soil is known to be extremely absorbent of chemicals and pesticides, which manifest in the crops that grow on them. With different planting materials, there is less chance of contamination. The following are types of hydroponic systems and a few aspects about each:
These are the most basic version of the hydroponics world, as they use a simple mechanism of a fabric rope that extends to a water source and fuels the plant with water. This allows it to grow by keeping the growing medium consistently moist and with nutrients, so the water from the reservoir is easily absorbed. This is the simplest system to maintain and is a good teaching tool for children or beginner gardeners.
Deep Water Culture
Another one of the easier mechanisms to maintain, this kind of hydroponics system has a tank that is filled with water and nutrients, with plants suspended over the reservoir using a pot. The roots are submerged in water, which allows them to continuously grow. This is very inexpensive to build and does not cost too much to maintain due to its recirculating process.
Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
NFT gives the plants’ roots a thin film of nutrients in a steady supply. Water and minerals are held in a reservoir that contains an air pump and air stone to maintain oxygen levels. Unlike the Deep Water Culture system, the crops are grown in a nearby channel full of pots. The whole process of delivering nutrients to the plants is timer-based and never completely submerges the roots. This system is extremely low waste and can grow crops with minimal growing media packed into the pots.
Ebb and Flow
This is also called a “flood and drain” system that floods nutrients towards the plants through a cycle. This hydroponics system is not as common as the rest due to not being flexible enough to suit the needs of all plants. Like the NFT system, it uses a timer to flood plant trays with a nutrient solution using a cyclic schedule. Each kind of plant has a different cycle of flooding depending on the water needed, the air temperatures, growth and harvest cycles, and more. This often needs consistent monitoring, which makes it good for more advanced hydroponic users. If you plan to stick to growing a specific amount of crops and you understand their cycles, this system is the most efficient.
The aeroponic system is extremely high-tech and very expensive. They are the most effective and efficient systems, wherein the plants and their roots are suspended in air, which are then watered through an air pump that pumps a mist spray over the roots. Some growers will use a non-stop misting procedure, while others use a cycle to water the plants. This is best for plants because the roots will have consistent exposure to nutrients without oversaturation. There is also more exposure to oxygen, which makes the plant grow better.
These are better for commercial settings rather than for personal use because they work more efficiently on a larger scale. They are similar to NFT systems, where plants are held in a separate channel from the pumps. Pumps in this mechanism move the water throughout the channel to improve oxygen flow and nutrient absorption.
When it comes to hydroponics, these are a great, innovative way to garden. Whether you are an aspiring green thumb or an experienced gardener, there is a hydroponic irrigation system that will fit your skill.
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