Soil is the most prevalent growing medium for plants that not only provides support, nutrients, oxygen, but also delivers water and other beneficial microorganisms to the roots. This conventional form of cultivation is still dominating major parts of the world. However, sometimes this same soil poses serious threat to your plant due to issues like pest infestation, salinity, poor drainage or wearing due to soil erosion. Poor soil fertility owing to continuous cultivation results in poor yield and reduces the quality of produce. In such circumstances, hydroponic growing is a feasible alternative for many growers.
Before you opt for hydroponics, it is important to understand as to why hydroponic growing is better and, in some cases, the only option for farming. Hydroponics means ‘water-working’ i.e. growing plants in nutrient solution, without soil. This soilless gardening technique offers plant roots the required nutrients through a nutrient solution, and roots are supported by porous material like coco peat, expanded clay, perlite etc. The environment for soil cultivation is completely different from the environment needed for hydroponic growing. Hydroponics allows the grower to cultivate plants more efficiently and productively with less labor and time even in areas where soil and climate are unfit for farming.
You can grow almost any crop of your choice during any season using hydroponics, which is not possible in soil gardening. This is because you can carry out hydroponic gardening indoors in your controlled environment of grow room supplying proper nutrients at the right growth phase, proper temperature, light, and pH. Oxygen is delivered to roots by air pumps or airstones. In hydroponics growing, you can put either liquid organic nutrients or chemical fertilizers to grow plants but they are already present in soil. Contrary to soil gardening, as the whole system is almost sterile in hydroponics, you don’t have worry constantly about pests and weeds.
Unlike traditional modes of farming, in hydroponics the initial set up for any good hydroponic system whether it is wick system, water culture, ebb and flow, drip systems, nutrient film techniques or aeroponics, is capital intensive. Yet, considering the manifold benefits of hydroponic growing, it is worth investing. You need less water compared to soil irrigation, as water is mostly recycled in hydroponics. Unlike in soil, plants grow faster, healthier, and larger in hydroponics as they do not have to spread their roots for nutrients, hence they utilize this energy for their growth. Both the methods have their own sets of pros and cons, and based on your requirement you can choose the technique which suits your requirements.