Benefits of hydroponic farming and food
What Is Hydroponic Farming?
The basic concept of a hydroponic farm is that water is substituted for soil. Solutions are then added to the water to provide easily accessed nutrients for a healthy yield. The nutrients added to the water may include phosphorus, nitrogen, calcium, potassium, and many more, depending on the plants being grown.
What are the Benefits of Hydroponics?
There are many advantages to a hydroponic vegetable garden. They can help solve problems without excessive use of space or water, are known to produce vegetables with high nutrient content, and produce vegetables faster than traditional growing methods. It seems all but certain that this method of agriculture will become a primary source of fruits and vegetables in the future.
1. Maximizes Space
Hydroponics requires far less space than plants grown in soil. Depending on the system, when hydroponics are combined with vertical farming techniques, they can use up to 99 percent fewer lands than typical farming techniques.
One reason for the smaller footprint of hydroponic plants is that the roots do not have to spread out to search for nutrients and moisture. Water and nutrients are delivered to the roots directly, either intermittently or constantly, depending on the hydroponic technique being employed. This means that each plant’s root system can take up far less space, resulting in the ability to grow more plants in a smaller space. When you add in vertical stacking methods, it’s easy to see how a much smaller area is needed to produce a hydroponic garden than a traditional one.
2. Conserves Water
It may seem counterintuitive, but growing plants in water actually use less water than growing the same plants in soil. In fact, hydroponic plants can grow with up to 98 percent less water than traditional growing methods.
Of the water taken in through a plant’s roots, only about 0.1 percent of the water taken in is actually used by the plant itself. Most are then released into the air through evapotranspiration. Hydroponics systems make use of recirculated water, allowing plants to absorb what they need, then return the rest to the system.
As global food production continues to increase year over year, it’s consuming more water than ever before. It’s estimated that it takes about 3 gallons of water to produce a single cup of lettuce through traditional methods. 2.7 ounces serving of broccoli takes about 11 gallons of water to produce. And for every 4.3 ounces of tomatoes you consume, 8 gallons of water have been used in the growing process. It seems that if we want to be serious about conserving water, hydroponics is an important part of the process.
3. Facilitates a Micro-Climate
Hydroponic gardens can be easily contained within a hydroponic greenhouse or other structure. This means they can have their own micro-climates, insulated from many of the difficulties that traditional farmers must work to address. They aren’t left to the mercy of pests and don’t need to be treated with a wide range of insecticides. In temperature-controlled facilities, plants can be grown year-round, regardless of the climate or weather outside. And with artificial grow lights, even the amount of sun available isn’t a problem.
4. Produces Higher Yields
Creating ideal conditions ensures plants receive the perfect amount of nutrients, which come in direct contact with roots. Additionally, microclimates allow for year-round growth and faster crop cycles. All of this adds up to create far higher yields than traditional farming methods. In fact, we’ve found that our hydroponic greenhouses can produce about 240 times the yield of other farming practices.
5. Require Less Labour
Without the need for tilling, weeding, herbicide and insecticide application, and other labor-intensive farm jobs, hydroponics offers a lighter load for laborers and can easily be managed with far fewer man-hours. This both cuts back on the cost of producing crops, and frees up time for other pursuits. In fact, a small hydroponic greenhouse can be entirely managed by a single part-time worker.
6. Needs No Soil
The world is quickly losing workable soil. It’s estimated that half of the world’s topsoil has been lost in the past 150 years. This is due to erosion, compaction, loss of soil structure, nutrient degradation, and salinity. What does this mean for agriculture? We have a growing number of mouths to feed and a shrinking amount of soil to plant.
Additionally, there is a wide variation in soil quality from one location to the next, and many plants have strong preferences for a particular soil type. This means traditional farmers can only grow crops suited to the soil in their areas. In large parts of the world, few crops can be grown using traditional methods. With hydroponic gardens, the soil is not a concern so farmers can grow whatever crops would be most beneficial to their community without concern for soil degradation.
7. Produces Higher Quality Food
When it comes to fruits and vegetables, fresher is unmistakably better. Few people happen to live in an area where they can get fresh produce year-round due to climate and soil conditions. So how do we get high-quality food into the hands of the majority of the world’s population, even in the offseason?
With traditional farming, the answer has been to pick the produce before it’s ripe and then let it ripen in warehouses and along the supply chain. At times, ethylene gas is used to artificially ripen food that has been picked too early. This is necessary if traditionally farmed crops are going to reach consumers in far off places.
Food that ripens naturally, on the plant, typically has more nutrients and better taste too. Because hydroponic gardens contain their own microbiomes, these crops can be grown just about anywhere. This means they can be picked at the peak of ripeness since they don’t have far to go before they reach the homes and restaurants where they’ll be enjoyed.
8. Reduces Supply Chain
Of course, there are more benefits to growing produce locally than the ripening process and its benefits. At traditional commercial growing operations, lots of water and energy is used to grow crops and maximize outputs. Then crops are harvested using even more energy. They’re transported long distances on fuel-burning refrigerated trucks or trains to their supermarket destinations. Finally, they’re often preserved using chemicals that increase the product’s shelf-life.
Of course, with hydroponics, a great deal of this energy use can be cut out. Hydroponic greenhouses can be erected in neighborhoods where traditional farms could never thrive. This means they can fulfill the needs of their local communities without wasteful transport and questionable preservation processes. This simplification of the food chain means high-quality produce can be grown locally, even in urban areas, then distributed to the community with less waste and greater freshness.
9. Predictability and Seasonality
We’ve all seen it. Buy strawberries in the middle of the summer and they’re cheap, fresh, and delicious. Try to buy them in the winter months and you might pay as much as three times the price for berries that don’t taste nearly as good. Seasonality is an unfortunate reality for traditional farming methods.
Farmers also have to contend with unpredictable weather problems that can wipe out an entire crop in a matter of days. Floods, fires, drought, pest problems, and more are a fact of nature and can happen anytime and anywhere. And when the area that supplies a particular crop has a major catastrophe, it can have a ripple effect across the entire food chain.
In a hydroponic greenhouse, conditions are controlled by the grower. This means you can grow your strawberries and harvest them in the dead of winter. And if a locust swarm comes through, the greenhouse will protect your precious crops from damage, no matter how many of the critters infest fields nearby. For growers, this means the ability to enter into longer-term wholesale contracts with fixed pricing. And they’ll be sure to deliver, come what may.
10. Crops Grow Faster
Most fruits and vegetables take several months to reach maturity using traditional methods. Plants must take their nutrients from the soil, which can be a slow process. What nutrients they absorb are often wasted through the maturing process.
The growth rate for a hydroponic plant is 30-50 percent faster than a plant grown in soil. With hydroponics, nutrients are more easily available for the plant to absorb. The grower can control light, heat, nutrients, hydration, pests, and all other aspects of the growing process. This means the whole cycle can be streamlined for larger, faster-growing plants with a higher yield.
What are the Benefits of Hydroponic Food?
People are discovering the numerous advantages of hydroponic gardening over traditional gardening. Because they don't require soil, they can be grown anywhere even indoors! Here, we'll go over the health benefits of eating hydroponic vegetables and why you should include them in your diet.
Hydroponic vegetables are often more nutrient-dense than soil-grown vegetables. This is because their roots can absorb more nutrients from the water because they are not competing for food with other plants. According to one study, the presence of the carotenoids capsorubin and capsanthin is higher in hydroponically grown vegetables than in conventionally grown vegetables. Carotenoids, such as lycopene and beta-carotene, are powerful antioxidants linked to a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
Eating hydroponic vegetables provides more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. These nutrients are critical for overall health and the prevention of chronic diseases.
Pesticides are not required for hydroponically grown vegetables because they are not susceptible to pests and diseases in the same way that soil-grown plants are. This is fantastic news for anyone concerned about the health risks of eating pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables. Pesticides have been linked to a number of health issues, such as cancer, reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, and neurological damage. Consuming hydroponically grown vegetables is an excellent way to avoid these dangerous pesticides and protect your health.
3. No soil contamination
Heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals can contaminate soil-grown vegetables. This is especially true if the soil is not managed properly or if it is near an industrial area. Because hydroponic vegetables are not grown in soil, they are immune to this type of contamination.
As a result, they are a more secure option for those concerned about the potential health risks of eating contaminated fruits and vegetables.
4. Fresher for longer
Hydroponic vegetables are typically fresher than soil-grown vegetables because they do not have to travel long distances to reach supermarkets or other retail outlets. They can also be harvested when fully ripe, enhancing their flavour and nutrition.