In recent years, soilless agriculture which is the act of growing flowers, vegetables, trees, and different plants without the utilization of soil instead of soil-based farming, which is enriched by nutritional solutions, has been in practice, and it is a standout amongst the most embraced methods for cultivation around the world. In soil-based horticulture, diverse kinds of soils are utilized to develop distinctive products; however, the innovation of soil-less agrarian techniques like hydroponics and aeroponics ascended because, of the difficulties confronting soil-based agribusiness.
Hydroponic Growing System
Hydroponics is the procedure whereby the plant is suspended in a water solution containing supplements essential for natural growth and germination. Hydroponic system accelerates the germination process by providing nutrients directly to the roots of the suspended plant.
Research shows that hydroponic system can grow:
- Herbs such as anise, basil, chervil, fennel, catnip, mint, and thyme
- Vegetables like spinach, chard, cabbage
- Vining plants such as peas, cucumbers, and tomatoes
- Root Crops and many more.
Advantages Of Hydroponic Growing System
- You do not need a yard to start; you can create your hydroponic garden in any indoor space.
- With the hydroponic growing system, you can control the season.
- You have full control over your plant’s nutrient intake.
- The hydroponic growing system provides a weed free environment if done indoors.
- Harvesting is much more straightforward in hydroponics.
- Your environment is disinfected and free from pests or rodents
- Recycling of system water is possible, allowing you to save water.
Disadvantages Of Growing Plants Hydroponically
- Setting a hydroponic system is quite expensive.
- Water-based microorganisms can sneak in effortlessly.
- Hydroponics requires technical knowledge.
- All plants in hydroponics will be affected if a disease arise.
Aeroponics Growing System
Similar to hydroponics is aeroponics, which is the act of suspending flowers, vegetables, and other plants in a dark enclosure, or a misting environment without the use of soil. Water is also used in aeroponics system to moisten the air in different to transmit needed nutrients to enhance the growth of the suspended plant. Aeroponics system requires less energy and water than hydroponics
Research shows that aeroponics system can grow plants like
- Vine plants which consist of tomatoes, strawberries, watermelons, tomatillos, and eggplant.
- Herbs like Mints, ginger, stinging nettles and skullcap.
Advantages Of Aeroponics Growing System
- Due to its high rate of absorbing nutrients, aeroponics plants require fewer nutrients and water
- It serves as an excellent means of educating people to have a glimpse about aeroponics in general especially kids loving to grow a small pet plant without having their hands stained with dirt from the soil.
- Aeroponics plants can be moved from one collar to another without much effort if needs arise for it.
- Aeroponics plants can be easily maintained.
Disadvantages Of Growing Plants Aeroponically
- Disinfecting the root chamber regularly with disinfectants like hydrogen peroxide is massively necessary, failure to purify the root chambers as needed may cause diseases, which may destroy the whole plant root.
- High level of knowledge and competency is required in running aeroponics system.
- An aeroponics system consists of high-pressure pumps, timers, and sprinklers which may damage or kill your plants if broken.
- Not all aeroponics systems are cheap; some are quite expensive to operate.
As far as agriculture is concerned, both hydroponics and aeroponics systems are beneficial over soil-based systems. As they do not promote the use of fertilizers and pesticides which contain potentially toxic chemicals which can contaminate turf, soil, water and other useful vegetation and can be toxic to another group of organisms including fish, birds and some other insects.
Setting up and running both systems (hydroponics and aeroponics) can be challenging due to their high cost of maintenance. In hydroponics, water acts as the medium, but aeroponics depends entirely on machinery as there is no such medium as the case of hydroponics and if any motor fails, the rate of survival of the plants is at a lower level as this affects the health of the plants. This makes provisional backup a necessity for aeroponics, which adds to the initial investment.
To calculate the operational expenses of growing a successful indoor hydroponic crop, a hypothetical cultivation scenario is needed to provide a sample. Therefore, this analysis will be based on an active ebb and flow hydroponic table system. Therefore, the numbers involved in this costs analysis are taken from a theoretical hydroponic plant system with rent and utility expenses based on US averages.
According to U.S.C.B. (United States Census Bureau), rent prices across the United States average about $1,231 each month. A typical household uses approximately 908 kWh of electricity a month, which amounts to over $300. A 12 hole plant site hydroponic system grow kit costs $26. A 48x24 inch ebb and flow (flood and drain) system costs $600; findings show one of the affordable mixture of nutrients to cost $324. The total CO2 expenses for a month equals $240, and additional material for plant support, pest control, and mildew control may cost up to $75 making a total of $2796 in a whole month.
Setting up aeroponics system is quite cheaper than hydroponics. High-pressure water pump, which is capable of atomizing water to the needed level, costs around $70. The electrical solenoid that controls the flow of water within the system is $40. Pressure switch, which is also required to manage the pump at a specific pressure costs $25. In addition, some other equipment and the cost of electricity, mortgage and rent which makes up a total of $2000.
Although the hydroponic and aeroponics system has their benefits, they have their challenges too. Growing hydroponic plants like cucumbers can be challenging because it needs high light level and warm temperatures, so increasing difficulties may occur during cooling or cloudy weather. So far, the most common nutrient deficiency in hydroponics and aeroponics is magnesium deficiency, which can cause rapid yellowing of the plant’s leaves. Humidity is an environmental factor, which if low may result in leaf burn, high humidity can as well create a variety of issues and some physiological disorders. Pest and disease control are essential in hydroponic and aeroponics gardens, but these control compounds may lead to some problems and have the potential to cause leaf damage. Some plants we grow hydroponically and aeroponically are more prone to specific water and nutrient quality issues, and this may cause a serious problem too.