Hydroponic Farming Tips – Ideas, Benefits
Hydroponic Farming Tips for Beginners
The Hydroponic system is a branch of hydroculture, in which plants are grown without soil by using water solvent which consists of minerals nutrient solution. It is a method of growing plants without using soil, using mineral nutrient solutions, and water. Plants can grow with their roots directly submerged in the mineral solution, or you can use gravel, perlite, or another medium. Plants growing on Hydroponic system are gradually becoming a popular hobby throughout the world. A hydroponic system can be as simple as a couple of Hydroponic boxes or as complex as a huge Hydroponic farm. In this article we also discuss the below topics about Hydroponic system;
- Hydroponic farming tips to maximize your yields
- Hydroponic farming tips for beginners and dummies
- Beginner’s Guide to Hydroponic gardening
- Do Hydroponic crops grow faster than in soil
- Hydroponic farming tips for success
A Step-By-Step Guide to Hydroponic Farming Tips
The science of soil-less gardening is known as Hydroponics. The Hydroponic system involves growing healthy plants without the use of a traditional soil medium. A plant just needs to select nutrients, water, and sunlight to grow. Not only do plants grow without soil, but they also grow a lot better with their roots in water instead.
A Hydroponic farming system is a form of gardening system that uses a water-based medium to grow plants. Soil is not used in the process of growing crops. It is a soil-less process in which a water-based nutrient solution is supplied to the plants for growth.
Guide to Hydroponic Farming
Why Grow Hydroponically?
There are several reasons to grow plants hydroponically, but the most common reasons involve faster growth and maximum yield. In a properly functioning Hydroponic system, your plants must get the perfect amount of nutrients, water, and sunlight.
The Hydroponic system is the most efficient way to grow your plants. The extra oxygen in the Hydroponic growing mediums helps to stimulate root growth and plants with ample oxygen in the root system also absorb nutrients faster. Generally, plants grown hydroponically are healthier and happier plants. Hydroponic farming also offers several benefits to our environment. Another main reason to grow your plants Hydroponically is the lack of soil.
Hydroponic crops have fewer problems with bug infestations, funguses, and disease. Generally, plants grown hydroponically are healthier and happier plants. This hydroponic information may be helpful in setting up the hydroponics system in the balcony, starting hydroponics on the terrace, designing a hydroponics system in the backyard, setting up hydroponics in Greenhouse, or Polyhouse.
The Benefits of Hydroponic Farming and Hydroponic Farming Tips
The Hydroponic system is proved to have several advantages over soil gardening. Here are a few Hydroponic system benefits;
- By providing constant and readily available nutrition, the Hydroponic system allows plants to grow up to 50% faster than they would in soil. Also, fresh produce can be harvested from a Hydroponic system throughout the year.
- Hydroponics great for both the environment and the grown product, Hydroponic system virtually eliminates the need for herbicides and pesticides compared to traditional soil gardening.
- Any water that is used in a Hydroponic system stays in the system and can be reused, reducing the constant need for a freshwater supply.
- The growth rate on a Hydroponic plant is 30 to 50% faster compared to a soil plant, grown under the same conditions. The yield of the Hydroponics plant is also greater. The extra oxygen in the Hydroponic growing mediums mainly helps to stimulate root growth. Plants with ample oxygen in the root system absorb nutrients faster.
- Weeds are eliminated in a Hydroponic and pests are almost nonexistent.
- You can have 100% control of the nutrients that plants need in this Hydroponic system. Before planting, growers can check what amounts of nutrients plants needed at particular stages and at what percentage it should be mixed with water.
- In Hydroponics, you can set conditions favorable to the plants to grow like temperature, lights, moisture, and especially nutrients.
Conditions Required to Start Hydroponic Farming
- Choose what to grow – Almost any plant can grow in a Hydroponic system, but if you are a beginner you should start with small plants. Select plants that require less maintenance and nutrients. For beginners, you can choose plants like herbs and vegetables. Fast-growing crops can also be a great choice as they make it easy to assess how well you’re Hydroponic gardening system works. If you are a beginner and learn a few techniques about growing plants under this process then, low maintenance plants are a smart choice.
- Better use of space and location – All crops need are provided and maintained in a system, you can grow plants in a small apartment, bedrooms or kitchen as long as you have some spaces. Whether you want to start commercial Hydroponic farming or small Hydroponic farming, location plays a very important role in both cases.
- Grow plants at a controlled temperature – One of the essential tips for growing plants in a Hydroponic system is to grow them at a controlled temperature. Plant growth stops strictly when the temperature rises above 85F, so you should keep a check on the temperature of the indoor garden and even the growing medium for better results.
- Climate control – Hydroponic growers can have total control on climate, temperature, humidity, light, the composition of the air. Farmers can produce foods at the right time to maximize their profits.
- Water-saving – Hydroponically grown plants can use 10% of water, as compared to one grown on the field because water is recirculated, in this method. Hydroponic plants will take up the water they need, while run-off water will be captured and return to the system.
- Learn about Hydroponic space – Determine what light source you will be using like natural or artificial, or a combination of the two. Pay special attention to the system you’d to start using and try to understand whether setup and efforts are sufficient to support it.
- Pests, diseases, and environmental stressors of Hydroponic systems or plants usually start small. This gives you the possibility to see and correct it. Knowing the problem allows you to select the right treatment.
Plants Suitable for Hydroponic System
Creating a Hydroponic system for your veggies, herbs, and other plants is a lot easier than people realize. A Hydroponic system for beginners is for just about anyone. The basic idea is simply to provide your roots with water, nutrients, and oxygen in the absence of soil. This can be done using any number of Hydroponic methods.
You can purchase any of the supplies you need from a gardening center or an online retailer, or you can simply use any buckets, old tubing, or wire mesh that you might find around your house. Think about the different systems, see what you’ve got lying around, and come up with your own unique indoor Hydroponic system.
Here are several plants that grow well in Hydroponic systems;
Best Hydroponic Farming Tips
Some important points to remember to start growing plants in the Hydroponic system;
- Know what equipment you need and why
- Know the nutritional requirements of your plants
- Know the light/photoperiod requirements of your plants
- Do not use additional nutrient additives your first time
- Have a written plan or feeding schedule before you start
- Have all necessary equipment and nutrients before you start
- Minimize light exposure to your nutrient solution
- Maintain a constant temperature level and improve climate control with easy grow reflective sheeting.
- Ensure proper nutrient mixing and oxygenation of your reservoir by using an air bubbler and air stone.
- Replace your growing bulbs regularly. Though, lights lose lumens quickly and can degrade by as much as 30% within a year.
Below are some of the useful Hydroponic farming tips and tricks for beginners;
- Hydroponic system success begins with having a solid plan. You must know the nutritional requirements of your plants before you start. Know how strong the nutrients should be each week of a plant’s life, and know what the nutrients should consist of each week. Many Hydroponic plants need more Nitrogen at first and then switch to needing more Phosphorus to produce fruit or flowers.
- The best lighting for a Hydroponic system is high-intensity discharge light fixtures, which can include high-pressure sodium or metal halide bulbs. Halide bulbs emit a more orange-red light, which is great for plants in the vegetative growth stage. And, T5 is another type of lighting used in grow rooms. It mainly produces a high-output fluorescent light with low heat and low energy consumption. It is ideal for growing cuttings and plants with short growth cycles.
- Ideal temperatures are between 68 and 70F. High-temperature levels may cause plants to become stunted, and if the water temperature gets too high, it may lead to root rot. The ideal humidity for a Hydroponic system is from 40 to 60% relative humidity. Higher humidity levels especially in rooms with poor air circulation can lead to powdery mildew and other fungal disease problems.
- Types of Hydroponics Growing Media – Hydroponics media are any soilless material that can support the plant’s growth because of its ability to hold and retain moisture, oxygen, and other nutrients that plants need to grow. There are different types of growing media in Hydroponics.
If you want to make profits from Hydroponics farming, you must understand that the lesser the medium a Hydroponic requires, the easier and less expensive the system becomes. Below are the most common Hydroponic growing media you can choose from;
- Coco Peat/coir
- Pine Bark
- Sphagnum Peat
- Clay pellets
- Starter Sponge
- Rice Hull
The purpose of a growing medium in Hydroponics is to aerate and support the root system of the plant and to channel the water and nutrients. Different types of growing mediums work well in different types of Hydroponic systems.
- Type of plants to grow in Hydroponics – Most of the plants like greens, herbs, and vegetables, etc. can be grown by Hydroponics. For a beginner, it is better to select herbs and small vegetable plants that can grow quickly and requires less maintenance. If you want to start large scale hydronic farming for the first time, these simple plants make it easy to monitor how well your system works and can be tweaked easily. And, always start with the same variety of plants or plants that require similar nutrient requirements.
- Ensuring water quality – Growers must test the quality of their water supply before introducing it into a Hydroponic system. The pH level measures the acid or alkali levels in the water and are important to keep track of with a pH meter or pH strips. The pH level scale runs from 0.0 to 14.0; 7.0 is neutral, less than 7.0 is looked at as acidic, and above 7.0 is alkaline. The pH levels in the Hydroponic system depend on the grower’s preference and the type of plants being grown in the system. No matter what type of plant is being grown in a Hydroponic system, sufficient EC levels are essential in a grower’s water supply to sustain healthy plants. Generally, EC measures the number of dissolved salts in the water, which are the nutrients and background minerals plants need to remain healthy.
- Most plants can grow hydroponically within a pH level of 5.8 to 6.8. The pH level in a Hydroponic system is much easier to check than the pH level of the soil. If the pH level is too high or too low the plant will not be able to absorb certain nutrients and will show signs of deficiencies. Water pH level should be checked once a week. It is easy to adjust by adding small amounts of soluble Potash to raise pH level, or phosphoric acid to lower pH. Also, there are several pH meters available. These give a digital reading of the pH level in the system.
- The water temperature in any Hydroponic system must be between 68 and 72°F. Growers can maintain their water temperature levels with a water heater and water chiller. Then, this ensures that the water is distributed to the plants isn’t too warm or too cold.
- Introduce a fertigation system – Normally, fertigation is the process of injecting fertilizers into an irrigation system. In the Hydroponic system, the right distribution of fertilizer into the water supply is critical, as the plants are being grown without soil, relying on the right amount of water and nutrients to survive.
- Clean the system regularly – Finally, all these tips can be done perfectly, but if the system is dirty and contaminated it won’t matter. Regularly cleaning a Hydroponic system is a crucial part of maintaining a successful operation because it keeps a system free of pests and diseases. Reservoir cleaning is usually done every 2 to 3 weeks, but cleaning frequency depends on how busy an operation is. Also, clogging can be avoided by opening the valves for a few seconds once a week. This procedure is simple and can be done by using a scrubby and 10% bleach solution. A grower would apply the bleach and then scrub until they are spotless and then rinse them out to finalize the process. This is done after each growing season or after every harvest.
- Know your market – This is for people who want to start Hydroponic farming commercially. Whatever you are planning to grow is expensive to produce and has a short shelf life.
- Do the right investment – The last but very important tip for small and large scale Hydroponic farmers. After knowing the current market and selecting the plants it is important to maintain them the right way. Don’t invest in cheap and defective motors or Hydroponic systems to rely upon, as a single mistake in water distribution may kill the entire plants on your farm. But for a beginner before starting commercial Hydroponic farming, it is better to start learning the process and different methods of Hydroponic systems by practicing at the home office with indoor units. It is better to have at least experience one growth cycle of plants in the Hydroponic system.
Choosing a Hydroponic System
There are different types of Hydroponic systems to choose from. They are;
- Deep Water Culture (DWC)
- Ebb and Flow (Flood and Drain)
- Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Deep Water Culture Hydroponic Farming Tips
One of the simplest and most inexpensive systems is Deep Water Culture. In this method, the plant is placed in a basket above a reservoir filled with a nutrient solution. From there, the plant roots hang down completely submerged in the solution. Because the roots are constantly submerged, they’ll need aeration to prevent suffocation. Aeration can be provided with an air pump, air stones, or a falling water system that makes air bubbles.
A water culture system is another simple Hydroponic system to set up. In this Hydroponics, the plants are placed in a Styrofoam platform that floats on top of the reservoir with the nutrient-enriched water. This is best for growing leaf lettuce, but very few other plants grow well in this system.
Ebb and Flow Hydroponic Farming Tips
The Ebb and Flow are also called Flood and Drain system. The Ebb and Flow technique uses a water pump on a timer. The water reaches a height where it will soak the plant roots and the excess water drains through an overflow tube. When the pump shuts off at the designated time, the water drains back down to the reservoir. It stays there until the pump turns on again and this system provides the plant roots with alternating periods of air and oxygen than water and nutrients. It is slightly more complex in design but is extremely versatile. This works by flooding the growing medium with a water-nutrient solution, then it drains back into the reservoir.
The Wick System Hydroponic Farming Tips
The wick Hydroponic system is the simplest mechanically, as there are no moving parts or electrical components. This is not ideal for water-hungry plants like lettuce or tomatoes, as they may use up the nutrient solution faster than the wick can supply it. This works best for microgreens, herbs, and peppers. This system is considered a simple type of Hydroponic system. This system works by pumping the nutrient solution from the reservoir up to the plants via the capillary movement like a wick into the growing media of the grow tray.
Hydroponic Farming Tips for Drip system
This is another type of Hydroponic system that you can use both for home and commercial growing purposes. With this Hydroponic system, the grower uses a pump to provide an adequate amount of nutrient solution to the root of individual plants. The plants grow in a slow absorbent medium so that the nutrient solution can drip slowly into the roots. This system works well for most vegetables, spices, and herbs both for home and commercial growers.
Nutrient Film Technique (N.F.T) Hydroponic Farming Tips
NFT system works by continuously flowing nutrient solutions onto the grow tray, so it doesn’t need a timer. The solutions then run through the plant roots system till it reaches the channels’ end then drains back to the reservoir. It can do that because the tube is slightly downward and NFT does not need any growing medium.
The Nutrient Film Technique is an active recovery type Hydroponic system. Also, using submersible pumps and reusing nutrient solutions. The NFT system uses a reservoir with a submersible pump that pumps the nutrient solution into a grow-tube where the roots suspended. The grow-tube is at a slight downward angle so the nutrient solution runs over the plant roots and back into the reservoir. The nutrient solution flows over the plant roots up to 24 hours per day.
Oxygen is needed in the grow-tube so capillary matting or air stones should be used. The NFT system is effective. The NFT uses a water-nutrient solution that constantly flows in a loop from a reservoir through a growing tray, where roots are suspended in air and absorb nutrients as the solution flows by. This Hydroponic system makes the ebb and flow system a continuously flowing system, never taking periodic breaks.
Aeroponic systems create an environment for the plant roots that provide as much oxygen as possible. The plant roots hang in midair within a growing chamber, without a growing medium, so the entire root system can be exposed.
The above are helpful tips where any grower can use to run a successful Hydroponic growing system. You must follow some conditions for a hydroponic system, maintain a healthy growing environment, ensure good water quality, implement a fertigation system, and choose effective growing medium, types of Hydroponic system, clean the system regularly and you’ll find your operation set up for success.