ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONICS
ADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONICS
1. PLANTS CAN BE GROWN ANYWHERE
Today, space is increasingly at the premium. With hydroponics, plants can be grown anywhere where no soil exists and light is available. For example, plants can be grown on a rooftop or next to the window sill. In Japan, vegetables are grown in the supermarket itself and it supplies crispy fresh vegetables to the shoppers. It saves money on transport and the benefit of having fresh produce offset the high cost of city land. Therefore, hydroponics farming can be viable irrespective of the value of land.
2. BETTER CONTROL OVER PLANT GROWTH
A soil system is difficult to keep in control due to the complex chemical and biological nature of the soil. Plants nutrients are frequently not available to plants due to poor soil structure or unfavourable soil pH value. Plants growing in soil are also frequent competitors for the essential in the soil solution. On the contrary, a hydroponics grower has the freedom to regulate the composition of the nutrient solution and the frequency of the feeding of nutrient. This gives the hydroponics grower a considerable degree of control over the plant growth.
3. LESS WORK WITH HYDROPONICS
Hydroponics has no need for tilling of soil, fumigation, watering, pulling of weeds or yelling at the neighbour's dog for running through your crops.
4. WATER AND NUTRIENTS ARE CONSERVED
A properly designed hydroponics system uses a lot less water and nutrients than soil culture. This is because the nutrients can be recycled through the system. This advantage is significant as it can lead to a reduction in the pollution of land and the stream with high levels of run off nutrients.
5. PEST AND DISEASE PROBLEMS ARE REDUCED
The chance of soil-borne disease is largely reduced with hydroponics as it is a soiless culture system, thus the need to fumigate is much lessened. With soil culture, the animal waste, high residues of pesticides, and soil microorganisms applied on to food crops and pose a health hazard to consumers.
6. TRANSPLANTING SHOCK IS REDUCED FOR SEEDLINGS
In hydroponics cultivation, seedlings can be easily raised in either foam or rockwool propagation blocks. These blocks can be then transplanted directly into the hydroponics system without a need to prick out the plants as in the case of soil media. Therefore, hydroponics shortens the propagation time needed and also reduces the transplant shock in young seedlings.
7. SOIL EROSION PROBLEM IS NON-EXISTENCE
The use of heavy machines in conventional agriculture farming compacts in the soil and results in damage to the soil structure. This could lead to serious soil erosion problems. It is estimated that in the United States, three billion tonnes of topsoil are lost through soil erosion every year as a result of human activities. This problem could be significantly curtailed if much of the present farmlands are converted to hydroponics cultivation.
8. CULTURE IS EXTENSIVE
In hydroponics culture, the plant nutrients and water are available in sufficient amounts all year round, thus allowing higher density planting. It is also possible to grow plants in multi-levels with hydroponics. Together with the absence of pests and diseases which can affect the overall production, the increase in yields per acre under hydroponics cultivation is striking compared to soil cultivation.
DISADVANTAGES OF HYDROPONICS
1. STARTING COST IS HIGH
The initial cost for construction of the hydroponics system is high, so, a hydroponics farmer may be limited in growing crops that either give a high return or rapid turn-over.
2. SOUND TECHNOLOGICAL KNOW HOW IS REQUIRED FOR PROPER TRAINING
Trained personnel knowledgeable in the principles of plant nutrition and operation of commercial hydroponics are necessary to manage a hydroponics farm, as the failure rate is high in the hands of amateurs.