What Is Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a type of horticulture and a subject of hydroculture which involves growing plants (usually crops) without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in the aqueous solvent. Terrestrial plants may grow with only their roots exposed to the nutritious liquid, or, in addition, the roots may be physically supported by an inert medium such as perlite, gravel, or other substrates. Despite inert media, roots can cause changes of the rhizosphere pH and root exudates can affect rhizosphere biology. The technique is proven to be safe, fast, more economical and most important, sustainable.
Hydroponic systems work by allowing minute control over environmental conditions like temperature and pH balance and maximized exposure to nutrients and water. Hydroponics operates under a very simple principle: provide plants exactly what they need when they need it. Hydroponics administer nutrient solutions tailored to the needs of the particular plant being grown. They allow you to control exactly how much light the plants receive and for how long. pH levels can be monitored and adjusted. In a highly customized and controlled environment, plant growth accelerates.
The nutrients used in hydroponic systems can come from many different sources, including (but not limited to) fish excrement, duck manure, purchased chemical fertilizers, or artificial nutrient solutions.
A hydroponics system nutrient solution should be water soluble with minimal or no residue and changed every week or two. Using one third of the dose of regular fertilizer could make a simple nutrient solution, but it is easier to use a readymade formula. A premixed hydroponics nutrient solution will have all the essential nutrients in the proper proportions, which means it is well balanced. It will contain just enough of an element to prevent a deficiency while avoiding a toxic level. It is important to monitor the strength of a nutrient solution by testing the electrical conductivity or EC level. This level can be determined with the use of a conductivity meter. This is important because a high EC means vegetative growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.
Plants commonly grown hydroponically, on inert media, include:
- Model plants like Arabidopsis thaliana
What You Need To Know About Hydroponics
- Hydroponics refers to a technique of growing plants in a nutrient-rich water source.
- Chemical nutrients are used in hydroponics.
- The bacterial growth is inhibited in hydroponics.
- Hydroponic systems are maintained at low temperatures, inhibiting the bacterial growth.
- Hydroponic system is faster to set-up when compared to aquaponics.
- Hydroponics systems are less cost-effective due to extensive use of chemicals.
- Hydroponic systems have less productivity.
- Hydroponics system requires regular flushing due to build up of salts and toxic chemicals.
- Hydroponic systems require higher degree of maintenance.
- Hydroponic systems are less prone to failure.
- With this system, it is easy to control pests.
- Generally, hydroponic systems are ideal for heavy feeder plant types.
- Hydroponic is suitable for beginners and people with little experience.
- Hydroponic system is a passive system, because no pumps are used to circulate water. Plants grow directly in the stagnant water or closed system.
- Hydroponic systems are not environmental friendly, since they contaminate the environment with chemicals.
- Volume of production is heavy dependent on the use of the right type and amount of chemical nutrients.
What Is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics refer to a food production system that couples acquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish, snails or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) whereby the nutrient rich aquaculture water is fed to hydroponic grown plant, involving nitrifying bacteria for converting ammonia into nitrates.
Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic combination in which plants are fed the aquatic animals’ discharge or waste. In return, the vegetables clean the water that goes back to the fish. Along with the fish and their waste, microbes play an important role to the nutrition of the plants. These beneficial bacteria gather in the spaces between the roots of the plant and convert the fish waste and the solids into substances the plants can use to grow. The result is a perfect collaboration between aquaculture and gardening.
As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponic systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponic system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.
Aquaponics systems are usually made up of several components or subsystems responsible for the effective removal of solid wastes, for adding bases to neutralize acids, or for maintaining water oxygenation. Typical components include:
- Rearing tank: the tanks for raising and feeding the fish;
- Settling basin: a unit for catching uneaten food and detached biofilms, and for settling out fine particulates;
- Biofilter: a place where the nitrification bacteria can grow and convert ammonia into nitrates, which are usable by the plants;
- Hydroponics subsystem: the portion of the system where plants are grown by absorbing excess nutrients from the water;
- Sump: the lowest point in the system where the water flows to and from which it is pumped back to the rearing tanks.
What You Need To Know About Aquoponics
- Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (growing of fish and other aquatic animals), and hydroponics (growing plants without soil). Aquaponics uses these two in a symbiotic combination in which plants are fed the aquatic animal’s discharge or waste.
- Organic matter produced by fish wastes is used as nutrients in aquaponics.
- The bacterial growth is used in the production of nutrients from the fish waste.
- Aquaponics systems are maintained at temperatures that induce the growth of bacteria.
- Aquaponics system is slow to set-up when compared to other farming techniques.
- Aquaponics systems are cost-effective as organic matter is used as the source of nutrients.
- Aquaponics systems have high productivity.
- Due to use of natural nutrients are used in aquaponics systems, the replacement of water in system is not required. Only water from evaporation and feeding the plants need replacing.
- Aquaponic systems are easy to maintain.
- Aquaponic systems are highly prone to failure.
- Controlling pest infestation to plants in aquaponics is somehow difficult.
- Generally, aquaponics systems are ideal for both heavy feeder and low-nutrient plant types.
- Aquaponic system requires high level of experience and skills for it to deliver maximum yields.
- Aquaponic systems are generally active systems because a pump is used to circulate water from the tanks to the plants and run off back into the fish tank.
- In Aquaponic systems is environmental friendly, the environment is not contaminated since every waste generated is recycled and re-circulated within the system.
- The volume of production in Aquaponics is dependent or limited to the number of fish.
Also Read: Difference Intensive And Extensive Farming
Difference Between Hydroponics And Aquaponics In Tabular Form
|BASIS OF COMPARISON||HYDROPONICS||AQUAPONICS|
|Description||Hydroponics refers to a technique of growing plants in a nutrient-rich water source.||Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (growing of fish and other aquatic animals), and hydroponics (growing plants without soil).|
|Nutrient Source||Chemical nutrients are used in hydroponics.||Organic matter produced by fish wastes is used as nutrients in aquaponics.|
|Bacterial Growth||The bacterial growth is inhibited in hydroponics.||The bacterial growth is used in the production of nutrients from the fish waste.|
|Temperature||Hydroponic systems are maintained at low temperatures, inhibiting the bacterial growth.||Aquaponics systems are maintained at temperatures that induce the growth of bacteria.|
|Set-up||Hydroponic system is faster to set-up when compared to aquaponics.||Aquaponics system is slow to set-up when compared to other farming techniques.|
|Cost||Hydroponics systems are less cost-effective due to extensive use of chemicals.||Aquaponics systems are cost-effective as organic matter is used as the source of nutrients.|
|Productivity||Hydroponic systems have less productivity.||Aquaponics systems have high productivity.|
|Water Replacement||Hydroponics system requires regular flushing due to build up of salts and toxic chemicals.||Due to use of natural nutrients are used in aquaponics systems, the replacement of water in system is not required.|
|Maintenance||Hydroponic systems require higher degree of maintenance.||Aquaponic systems are easy to maintain.|
|Failure||Hydroponic systems are less prone to failure.||Aquaponic systems are highly prone to failure.|
|Pest Control||With this system, it is easy to control pests.||Controlling pest infestation to plants in aquaponics is somehow difficult.|
|Suitability||Generally, hydroponic systems are ideal for heavy feeder plant types.||Generally, aquaponic systems are ideal for both heavy feeder and low-nutrient plant types.|
|Experience & Skills||Hydroponic is suitable for beginners and people with little experience.||Aquaponic system requires high level of experience and skills for it to deliver maximum yields.|
|Classification||Hydroponic system is a passive system, because no pumps are used to circulate water. Plants grow directly in the stagnant water or closed system.||Aquaponic systems are generally active systems because a pump is used to circulate water from the tanks to the plants and run off back into the fish tank.|
|Effects On Environment||Hydroponic systems are not environmental friendly, since they contaminate the environment with chemicals.||In Aquaponic systems is environmental friendly, the environment is not contaminated since every waste generated is recycled and re-circulated within the system.|
|Volume Of Production||Volume of production is heavy dependent on the use of the right type and amount of chemical nutrients.||The volume of production in Aquaponics is dependent or limited to the number of fish.|
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Hydroponic Systems
- Hydroponics requires far less space than plants grown in the soil.
- Plants grown in hydroponic systems grow faster than those grown in the soil.
- Hydroponic systems are not habitable for the seeds of weeds.
- Hydroponic systems yield more per square foot when compared to aquaponics.
- In hydroponic farming, plants grow healthier than in the soil.
- With hydroponics farming, the farmer has absolute control over the climate. They can adjust temperature, intensify light and humidity levels.
- With hydroponic system, there is no need to spray insecticides or pesticides.
- The system provides the plants with maximum possible nutrients.
- Constant monitoring and maintenance is required.
- Growing a hydroponic garden is costly especially in the initial costs and maintenance.
- With hydroponic system, waterborne diseases are considerably high.
- Without soil to act as a buffer, plants grown in hydroponics systems react negatively to problems like nutrient deficiencies and diseases much faster.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Aquaponic Systems
- The plant yields/produce is free of pesticides and herbicides.
- Allows continuous production of food.
- It helps to eliminate soil borne diseases on plants.
- It is easy to set up for year round use.
- There is no need of use of artificial fertilizers to feed the plants.
- Plant growth is significantly faster.
- It requires less space when compared to traditional soil methods.
- There is reduced risk of pest and diseases damage to plants.
- There is no weeding required.
- It is expensive to setup as the system requires pumps, tubing and tanks/beds.
- Setup requires technical knowledge and experience of aquaponics systems.
- Water needs to be monitored consistently to ensure that it’s good for fish.
- Aquaponics requires electric energy input to maintain and recycle water within the system.
- Failure in one or two components of the aquaponics system can result in the massive death of fish and plants