Hydroponics Cultivation

 

What is Hydroponics

Hydroponics  is defined as growing plants without soil. This production system may use a wide variety of organic and inorganic materials. The nutrient solution, rather than the media in which the plants are growing, always supplies most of the plant nutrient requirements. This method of growing has also been referred to as nutrient-solution culture, soil less culture, water culture, gravel culture and nutriculture.

Types of hydroponics cultivation Liquid (Non-Aggregate) Hydroponics Systems: In this system, no rigid supporting medium for the plant roots is used. Liquid systems are, by their nature, closed systems; the plant roots are exposed to the nutrient solution, without any type of growing medium, and the solution is recirculated and reused.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT): The principle of the NFT system is to provide a thin film of nutrient solution that flows through either black or white-on-black polyethylene film liners supported on wooden channels or some form of PVC piping which contains the plant roots. The walls of the polyethylene film liners are flexible, permitting them to be drawn together around the base of each plant, which excludes light and prevents evaporation.

Bag Culture: In bag culture, the growing mix is placed in plastic bags in lines on the greenhouse floor. The bags may be used for at least two years, and are much easier and less costly to steam-sterilize than soil.

Advantages of Hydroponics
  • Land is not necessary. It can be practiced even in upstairs, open spaces and in protected structures.
  • Clean working environment. The grower will not have any direct contact with soil.
  • Low drudgery. No need of making beds, weeding, watering, etc.
  • Continuous cultivation is possible.
  • No soil borne diseases or nematode damage.
  • Off-season production is possible.
  • Vegetable cultivation can be done with leisure sense.
  • Many plants were found to give yield early in hydroponics system.
  • Higher yields possible with correct management practices.
  • Easy to hire labour as hydroponics system is more attractive and easier than cultivation in soil.
  • No need of electricity, pumps, etc. for the non-circulating systems of solution culture.
  • Possibility of growing a wide variety of vegetable and flower crops including Anthurium, marigolds, etc.
  • Water wastage is reduced to minimum.
  • Possible to grow plants and rooted cuttings free from soil particles for export.
Limitations of Hydroponics
  • Higher initial capital expenditure. This will be further high if the soil-less culture is combined with controlled environment agriculture.
  • High degree of management skills is necessary for solution preparation, maintenance of pH and Ec, nutrient deficiency judgment and correction, ensuring aeration, maintenance of favourable condition inside protected structures, etc.
  • Considering the significantly high cost, the soil-less culture is limited to high value crops of the area of cultivation.
  • A large-scale cultivator may have to purchase instruments to measure pH and
    Ec of the nutrient solution.
  • Energy inputs are necessary to run the system.
  • Yields were found to decrease when temperature of the solution rises during
    warm periods.
References Science tech Entrepreneur, January 2007