For saving space and soil, this method also has several
other benefits, including no soil-borne diseases, no
weeds to pull and no soil to till, run-of-the-mill side
benefits of soil-less gardening.

Hydroponic Gardening - The Pros and the Cons

When it comes to some of the problems we are facing in the world with regards to food production, hydroponic gardening offers some promising solutions. In the poorer countries where the terrain or climate is inhospitable to agriculture, hydroponics offers a means of growing healthy foods easily. Also, in those areas where the soil has lost its nutrients or fertile land is hard to come by, hydroponics can produce healthy foods using minimum space and resources.

Hydroponics Guide

As with all things though, it is not all good news. There are many pros and cons any grower should weigh before deciding to commit to hydroponic gardening.

First, the pros. In comparison to traditional farming, hydroponic growing can be more productive in two ways. For one, hydroponic gardening saves space. Plants can be placed much more closely together than in traditional fields because of the way nutrients are provided to them. As many as four times as many plants can be grown in same amount of space using hydroponic techniques! Secondly, hydroponics minimizes many of the problems associated with traditional farming which means less sickly, damaged, or wasted crops.

Because hydroponic growers customize their own nutrients mixes, it takes the guess work out of figuring out which field has the best soil and proper nutrition for which crop. The nutrient mix is the right one for the particular plant, in the right ratios, every time. Also, soil based diseases are virtually eliminated because there is no soil. These two factors alone make hydroponics an extremely efficient method for producing food.

Benefits accrue to the environment as well. The water consumption in hydroponic growing is significantly less than traditional methods. In many cases, hydroponic crops use just one tenth of the water! Also, the water that is used is used more effectively. For example weeds cannot come in and steal part of the crop's water supply. And because the crops are in a controlled environment and not in a field, there is no pesticide run-off water to contaminate the surrounding ground.

The benefits are not without their costs however. The expense of hydroponic growing is an area where improvements need to be made. The nutrient mixtures and growing mediums used can be expensive.

Hydroponic growing also requires an increase in energy consumption. Much hydroponic growing happens in greenhouses, where significant amounts of electricity are used in order to give the hydroponic plants all the light they need.

While research is happening to try and bring the costs down (such as in the field of aquaponics), hydroponics can be financially prohibitive for those areas where it is most needed.

Research in the field of hydroponics is filled with promise and much research needs to be done. Many of the problems are being addressed however, and many farmers and amateur gardeners are eagerly awaiting new developments in this promising field.

By Tony Buel


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