Hydroponic techniques emerged as a solution to the issues of growing directly on soil. Depending on the needs, the climate zone, the greenhouse and type of cultivation, we will be interested in working or not with a hydroponic system.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics?
Advantages of hydroponics:
- Saving of water, fertilizers and phytosanitary:
This is especially important in hot climates and where the water is a scarce resource. Thanks to the plastic or metal gutter, recollection or recirculation of the drainages is possible in professional hydroponic crops.
- Total control of the plant’s nutrition
There is total independency from the soil because the roots are not in touch with it. Therefore, the nutrition of the plant is guaranteed to be the one provided by the fertirrigation team.
This is also especially important when soils are deteriorated or have high salinization.
- Better yields per hectare:
The crops inside a hydroponic greenhouse are the most intensive and the most productive so with them it’s possible to obtain a greater profitability than with conventional agriculture techniques. Basically, with less you produce more (better use of the surface, less water, less phytosanitary products, etc.).
- Production in any time and place of the year.
With the hydroponic greenhouse properly equipped (lighting, heating, humidification, carbonic fertilization, etc.), there is the possibility of producing close to the place of sale and / or consumption, collecting the products at the most optimal point of maturity and reducing the import or export costs.
- Decreasing in proliferation and transmission of diseases (Only with Hydroponic Systems):
Thanks to the Spacer, which provides a height of 6 cm to the substrate bag, the roots of the plants do not come into contact with the soil or the drainage recollection gutter, preventing it from becoming infected or transmitting root diseases to other plants in the same line.
- Better aeration (Only with Hydroponic Systems):
Again the Spacer is the minimum and necessary surface to guarantee a maximum aeration and optimal root development.
- Minimal contamination:
Hydroponic crops allow the collection of drains from irrigation, becoming a less polluting method for the environment because there is no percolation of the irrigation water used. These water contain among other substances Nitrogen, so they are a source of groundwater and ecosystem contamination. In addition, with a hydroponic greenhouse, we can control pest populations and be able to combat them with non-chemical methods or biological control, leading to more environmentally friendly productions with the environment and the consumer.
- Better circulation of drainages (Only with Hydroponic Systems):
The elevation of the substrate bag facilitates the circulation of the drains and avoids waterlogging.
- Prevention of temperature rise within the roots (Only with Hydroponic Systems):
By moving away from the ground or the base of the gutter thanks to the Spacer, the transmission of heat towards the bag is less and also the stress to the plant, especially in hot climates.
Disadvantages of hydroponics
- Initial investment:
Although there are systems for all pockets, plastic or metal channel, with greater or lesser quality, hydroponics supposes an initial investment (collection of drains, irrigation, and disinfection).
However, from the point of view of profitability, the hydroponic system will provide us greater benefits than cultivating on land because with higher yields and saving of water and agrochemicals we will recover the investment.
- It requires a greater level of technique from both farmers and technicians.
Characteristics of hydroponic crops
Many hydroponic crops can be grown in an inert or near inert medium, such as gravel, perlite, or cocopeat. This is thanks to the fact that the roots absorb the essential nutrients in the inorganic ions dissolved in the water, so if the solution dissolves in water and it is poured onto the inert medium, the plant can absorb them properly.
This happens with any plant, although some will have greater or lesser ease and results according to the hydroponic technique.
In short, hydroponic crops are more productive, versatile and environmentally friendly than traditional intensive crops, which is why they are called to be the future of modern agriculture.