What is Hydroponics?

Feb 19, 2019 by

Hydroponics is a method to grow plants by using something other than soil and is becoming more and more popular for commercial growers and home gardening enthusiasts.

Hydroponic methods involve supporting plant roots in a sand, gravel, or perlite base. Other methods include suspending the plants while a nutrient-laden solution mists the plant roots or the roots have a continual stream of nutrient solution running past them through a trough system.

In traditional agriculture, plants pull the nutrients they need from the soil through their roots. The soil does double duty as the support system for the plant as it grows. Hydroponics guide from RO System Reviews.

In hydroponics, a mineral nutrient solution in a water-solvent base feeds the plant, while various structures support the plant as it grows.

The Benefits of Hydroponics

For a plant to grow, it needs nutrients. Soil-grown plants expend quite a bit of energy to grow a root system to reach the nutrients they need for survival.

Hydroponics allows a grower to combine the optimal mix of minerals for the type of plant they are growing into the water solution, then provide a constant stream of this nutrient-rich solution to the plant’s roots.

Hydroponics relieves a plant of the stress of having to grow a complex root system through the soil, which allows the plants to grow 20-50 percent faster. The increase in crop turnover time makes this system a viable investment for growers.

How to Mitigate Hydroponic Water Temperature Concerns

To grow efficient crops using hydroponics, the temperature of the nutrient water solution must stay within an optimal range of 65°F and 80°F. This temperature range also increases a plant’s disease resistance.

A plant root has difficulty absorbing nutrients when temperatures around the root system are too high or too low, which leads to weak production of vegetables or even death of the plant.

So how do hydroponic growers control the temperature of their nutrient solution?

There are many ways to maintain ideal nutrient solution temperatures in a hydroponic system. A grower can add ice packs to cool the nutrient reservoir when the solution is too hot. A method like this is inexpensive and straightforward but requires constant attention by the grower to keep the solution within the optimal temperature range.

Another method is to bury reservoir tanks and use a pump to deliver nutrients to the crop. Burying a tank will keep the solution at a more constant temperature, but depending on your location and season, this could still be too warm or cold to produce healthy plants.

Many growers find it is easier to incorporate a system that regulates itself, like using fluid channel blankets around their nutrient reservoir. You can find blankets to cover reservoir tanks from 5-275 gallons from supply companies online or from a local hydroponic growing shop.

A channel blanket incorporates tubing between the material that allows the flow of water through it. You wrap the blanket around the nutrient reservoir, attach a pump system to it, and feed cool water through the blanket. The cooling liquid makes contact with the reservoir sides and reduces the internal reservoir solution temperature to the optimal level.

What if you also need to warm the nutrient reservoir during cold months?

Some fluid channel blanket systems are made only for cooling down a liquid, while some systems can also heat the liquid. Dual-purpose fluid channel blankets are a wise investment for the serious hydroponic grower since it eliminates the time-consuming process of constant manual temperature regulation of your reservoir system.

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