Hydroponics is the process of growing plants without the use of soil, delivering plant nutrients directly through watering. Nutrients are mixed into a water reservoir and then fed to your plants at regular intervals. Your plants will directly take these nutrients up, as they don’t have to first be broken down in the soil in order to be readily available to plants. Hydroponic gardening is, thus, an efficient way to grow plants, and has a few environmental benefits over conventional growing.
One of the greatest benefits of growing plants hydroponically is the reduction of land needed to produce a crop. In fact, commercial hydroponic setups tend to consume only 1/5 of the land needed for the same amount of plants being cultivated on farmland. This is because you can contain your root zones into more compact containers and still achieve the same yields by using liquid nutrients to feed your plants.
Additionally, you can grow vertically by using shelving which can increase your yields significantly. For example, I could have a 4×4 area outside in soil and would be contained to only that 4×4 area. If I did a vertical 4×4 indoors in a hydroponic system, I could have 3-5 levels and increase my square footage to 12×12 or even 20×20 in that same 4×4 area.
Less water is needed in a hydroponic system. Field crops need to be constantly watered, depending on our weather. They can dry out at a rapid rate in our hotter climate, which leads to needing a lot of water to keep them happy and healthy. Hydroponic growing actually uses only 10% of the water that is typically needed to grow plants in traditional soil.
Most hydroponic growing is done in greenhouses or other structures. These conditions lead to greatly reduced pesticide use. Pesticides are used to eliminate pests that like to eat vegetative and flowering plants. Although they can be necessary tools in the grower’s toolbox , whether they are organic or synthetic, pesticides can contaminate nearby ecosystems through wind, rain, and runoff. Some pesticides can even travel miles on the wind, which can get into local ponds and damage ecosystems there. Indoor growing drastically reduces the need for pesticides, as you can seal off growing spaces, and makes natural insect control (like ladybugs) a possibility.
Hydroponic growing also eliminates the need for herbicides, which are used to kill off any unwanted plants in the field. Like pesticides, herbicides also can travel miles when sprayed, and can kill beneficial plants in the area, in addition to harming the health of farm workers. Hydroponic growing essentially eliminates the need for herbicides, as seeds don’t blow in and germinate in adjacent soil.
One last benefit of growing hydroponically is that many growing mixes contain peat, Peat bogs take thousands of years to develop, and they are being consumed at an alarming rate.
In my opinion, I feel hydroponic growing can be beneficial for our environment in several ways. I still enjoy traditional gardening in soil, but I can grow more plants and use less water in a hydroponic system.
We have everything you need to grow hydroponically, and we are happy to talk with you about hydroponic systems, nutrients, lighting, and answer any questions you may have.