Agriculture World

Is Hydroponics a Better Cultivation Method than Aeroponics?

Abhijeet Banerjee
Abhijeet Banerjee
Hydroponics

When compared with the traditional soil-based cultivation methods, Hydroponics and Aeroponics are considered as superior methods of cultivation. Both the techniques enable rapid growth of plants, in addition to contributing for higher yields, minimize or eliminate the need for herbicides and pesticides. Hydroponics is a type of “Soil-less culture, which is a method of growing plants without soil, by using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. It comes under the Horticulture discipline, and has many advantages, one of them being a decrease in water usage for agriculture. Aeroponics is an advanced form of hydroponics, and in this the process plants are grown, only with water and nutrients. This innovative method results in faster growth, healthier plants, and larger yields, and at the same using less number of resources. Plants grow in a soilless medium under this method.  

  1. Hydroponics

Hydroponics method evolved before Aeroponics and this cultivation method has been evolving since last few decades, with lots of variations being introduced in present term. In hydroponics, we do not use soil and it gets replaced with another medium for the plants to grow. The replacement of another medium is done for ensuring efficient delivery of nutrients along with minimizing the risk of diseases in the plants grown. When using hydroponics, the plants will get the nutrients that they need from the water which is usually a nutrient-rich solution consisting of various ingredients. The medium used instead of soil can be perlite, coconut husks, rock wool pebbles, and gravel. For the medium to work well in hydroponics, the material chosen should have the property like that of foam that can soak up water and move smoothly. This method also requires various other things such as reservoir pump, delivery pipes, timer, a reservoir and grow tray. Aeroponics here differs in the sense that there is no medium and instead the nutrients have to be sprayed directly to the roots.  

Advantages 

  • Easy to Control Nutrient supply. Through hydroponics it is relatively easy to control the amount of nutrients that the plants get. When to supply the nutrient, can be controlled as well. One can conveniently influence factors like the speed of growth and size of the plants since there is more control over the growth process.  
  •  Cheaper in cost. Hydroponics is relatively less costly than Aeroponics. Overallthe method is still expensive, keep that in mind. But when compared with Aeroponics, which is a more complicated cultivation system, involvement of initial investment to set up hydroponics system will be lesser than Aeroponics, for the same set up size.  
plant
  • Use Water efficiently: Most of the modern types of hydroponics are able torecycle water to minimize waste, thus making it a highly water-efficient method of farming. As compared with conventional soil farming, water utilized in hydroponic systems are less than 10 percent.  

 Disadvantages 

  •  Diseases spread quickly:  While growing plants through hydroponics agriculture, the biggest drawback is that diseases can spread quickly. Since the plants share the same solution and reservoir it accelerates for water-borne diseases to spread. This cannot happen while using Aeroponics system. This is because each plant gets its own spray of nutrients and since the roots are not submerged in any medium, they never come into contact with each other. 
  •  Root aeration not satisfactory: In hydroponics there is no proper aeration since the roots are submerge but in case with Aeroponics, the roots remain suspended in the air, therefore the plant is able to absorb more oxygen hence they get proper aeration. 
  1. Aeroponics

In Aeroponics agriculture, a growing medium is not necessary for plants to grow. Instead the plants are provided desirable amount of nutrients. Here it involves use of a support platform with a flexible collar to support the plants. The roots hang below in an enclosed chamber. This system has some spray nozzles in the enclosed chamber which are responsible for misting the roots with water and nutrients at certain preset intervals. 

This cultivation system is designed in such manner that it reduces the plant’s requirement for water and nutrients. Therefore as compared with the hydroponics system plants will use a significantly lower percentage when using Aeroponics system. This type of cultivation ensures that there will be lesser competition among plants for getting water and nutrients. This implies that the conditions overall will be favorable for faster growths, stronger plants, and better yields. Also, absorption of nutrient occurs in more efficient manner. As such, need for requiring fertilizer gets reduced. The plants grown under Aeroponics are not competing for nutrients, and they require less space. This in turn reduces space utilization therefore it becomes viable to grow more number of plants in a smaller area.  

 Advantages  

  •  Yields increased. Plants will not have to compete for nutrients in Aeroponics unlike in hydroponics, which facilitates faster growths and higher yields. Yields are increased also because of availability of the nutrients throughout and efficiency in water absorption.
  •  Nutrient absorption is maximum. There is maximum nutrient absorption due to absence of a planting medium and since the roots are suspended. No wastage of nutrients and fertilizer is seen with this system because the plants are able to absorb almost everything.
  •  Plant transplantation turns Easy.  Therisk of transplant shock gets reduced when using the Aeroponics system. There will not be a growth medium for the plants to move to or from. Therefore it becomes easy and convenient to move the plants from one Aeroponics system to another without much hassle. This benefit is not for Hydroponics agriculture due to presence of a growth medium.  

 Disadvantages  

  •  Risk due to sensitivity of the system: Unlike Hydroponics, Aeroponics is a highly sensitive method of cultivation, requiring lot of attention. The entire system needs to work properly at all times so as to ensure plants survival. Such is the risk that plants can die in just few hours in case of a power failure of the mist spraying nozzles. This problem is not seen in in hydroponics, as the plants are able to survive for longer in case the same happens. This is because the growing medium continues to supply water and nutrients. 
  •  Set Up Quite Costly: The cost of set up is much more than Hydroponics system. There is higher initial spending because the system requires various accessories, right from automation tools to pumps, fine spray nozzles and timers, to function optimally. 

 Conclusion 

Summarizing, there seems to be an edge over hydroponics for Aeroponics agriculture. Major reason is better yields and significantly faster plant growth seen through Aeroponics cultivation method. There are however few exceptions in few situations where hydroponics method brings better results. When investment consideration is a challenge, hydroponics is the viable option as it is relatively cheaper than Aeroponics cultivation method. Secondly, Aeroponics should not be adopted in those areas which lack a very reliable power supply system, since Aeroponics heavily depends on a stable or steady supply of power. While Hydroponics and Aeroponics may be similar in few aspects, yet both are different methods of cultivations, and each have its own advantages and disadvantages. One should know the advantages and disadvantages before choosing them as the preferred option. One needs to select the right cultivation system and consider, whether he or she plans to start a new soilless garden system, or simply wants to modernize and improve on the cultivation methods.  Therefore choosing between hydroponics and Aeroponics should be done after lot of considerations.   

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