Whenever someone asks about farming, the first picture that comes into a person’s mind is of open fields with tractors and machinery working on it, labours sowing or harvesting the crops.
Hydroponics is much different from traditional farming, it is 80 % more efficient in the water, nutrient usage, high yielding, and more sustainable in practice.
A hydroponic farm can be near a market or on a non-productive land because the plants are grown in a soil-less medium. If plants are not growing in soil, then what is the source of their nutrition? We will answer this question further in this article and discuss how hydroponic farming in India is different from the traditional method of crop cultivation?
No Requirement of Soil
Soil is the only source of nutrients for plants in the traditional farming method, but in hydroponics, it is not crucial for crop production. In hydroponics, the plants get their nutrition from a particular nutrient solution. Plants absorb nutrients from the solution much more effectively when compared to soil, and this is the reason behind the high nutritional quality of crops produced in hydroponics.
Hydroponics in India is becoming popular because it is considered a solution for rising food problems. Soil gets contaminated from industrial waste, chemical pesticides, and it is no longer suitable for crop production, especially in urban areas. Hydroponics produce vegetables, fruits and herbs which are healthy and free from chemical pesticides.
Increased Plant Density and Yield
In a hydroponic system, the plant density is significantly higher than traditional farming. The reason behind the higher plant density is the root expansion. In soil, the plant root expands more in search of nutrients and compete with others if planted closely. In hydroponics, the plant roots are shorter as they get nutrients accessible to them all the time.
A hydroponic farm can give 5-7 times higher yield compared to traditional farm with the same area of land. This increase is because plants can reach their full potential in a hydroponic system, which might be not possible in soil due to many variables.
Lesser Amount of Time and Work is Required
Growing crops in a hydroponic system can be time-saving in many ways. The traditional farms have a dominant problem of weeds, and it takes a fair amount of time and labour to remove weeds (unwanted plants) from the field. This problem is not found in hydroponic farms because the plants are not grown in soil.
The crops mature faster in hydroponics because they get a suitable growing environment. A balanced dose of nutrients and continuous monitoring of different variables such as pH, solution temperature, humidity, EC helps the grower control them with the use of technology. The structural design of a hydroponic farm is made in a way to allow more access to the plants for different practices.
Prevents Unnecessary Use of Chemical Fertilizers
Several bags of urea, potassium fertilizer and many other fertilizers get consumed in traditional farms during the whole crop production process. The unrestricted use of chemical fertilizer reduces the fertility of the soil, and their runoff pollutes the surrounding water bodies.
Hydroponic farming in India reduced the use of fertilizer and made the food production process more sustainable. The amount of nutrient required in hydroponics is lesser than the traditional farming method because of the high efficiency of the system.
Utilizes the non-productive land and saves water
One-sixth of India’s land is non-productive, such lands get deteriorated due to overexploitation or due to ecological instability. Productive or non-productive, the condition of soil has no impact on crop production in hydroponics.
That is why most of the hydroponic farms in India built on barren land, reducing the impact of food production on the environment. With today’s rate of population increase, we need to double our yield in the next twenty years with the same area of land. The hydroponic farming technique will help achieve this global food goal.
Decreasing groundwater level is also a public concern today, especially for those living in urban areas. Over half of the fields near a city gets irrigated by groundwater, by opting hydroponics, we can reduce the water usage up to 80 %, saving an enormous amount of water for domestic consumption.
Hydroponic farming in India is attracting the grower’s community and making food production more prosperous than earlier with the application of automated systems and technology.