HYDROPONICS

INDUSTRY DESCRIPTION 

The main challenges facing modern agriculture are the meteoric growth rate of the human population, the cause of global famine, and the reduction of environmental damages such as global warming and species extinction due to human industrial activity. Hydroponic agriculture seeks to address these two challenges.

- Moreover, hydroponic systems are often used as a solution for vertical gardening, when plants need to be grown above each other.

Hydroponic agriculture is a production system of agricultural consumer products (types of fruits, vegetables, and leafy vegetables) that supports the health of the ecosystem, soil, and humans. Unlike ordinary agriculture, whose main ambition is to maximize production and minimize spending on it, hydroponic agriculture has engraved on its banner a combination of quality values ​​and the health of the environment and man in the production process.

 

Hydroponic produce is generally considered healthier than regular produce, mainly because of the belief that it contains more vitamins and antioxidants and has no residues of pesticides, antibiotics, and other chemicals. Many consumers prefer hydroponic products also because the production process places emphasis on reducing harm to the environment.

NO SOIL

- Plant metabolism researchers have found that the nutrients that plants absorb are simple ions in water. Under natural conditions, the soil is actually the nutrient reservoir, but the soil itself is not essential for plant growth. With the help of the roots, the plants can absorb the nutrients in the soil when dissolved in water. When the nutrients needed for the plant are artificially added to the plant's irrigation water, the plant does not need a rich soil substrate to exist.

- Almost any plant can be grown with hydroponics, but some plants are better suited to it than others.

- These are the two main uses of hydroponics. First, it allows for creating a controlled plant growing environment, removing many variables from scientific experiments. Second, many plant species produce more output in less time, and sometimes of higher quality; This makes hydroponics a profitable tool for farmers in various economic and environmental conditions. When hydroponics is used, there are no diseases that come from the soil, wild plants to be eliminated, or soil to cultivate. Plants can be grown very densely, saving space (you can even grow plants on several floors).

 

Hydroponics is also economical in water if the containers in which the plants are grown using a closed water system that recycles water. Such systems consume minimal water as compared to traditional agriculture.

- Moreover, hydroponic systems are often used as a solution for vertical gardening, when plants need to be grown above each other.

THE 4 CHALLENGES

To be a worthy alternative to ordinary modern agriculture, hydroponic agriculture has to face four challenges:

  1. The nutritional value of hydroponic products should exceed that of regular products.

  2. The production should be environmentally friendly, do not emit toxic and polluting substances, and maintain the health of the soil, there is no use of soil at all so it can be grown with this method anywhere.

  3. Pesticides and other bioactive substances must not be present in hydroponic products.

  4. It must supply produce equal to or greater than normal or larger agriculture, in addition to shortening growing times.

 

The scientific literature does not provide unequivocal support for the benefits of hydroponic agriculture. Still, several comprehensive articles and documents relating to various aspects of this agriculture have been published recently, some in prestigious scientific journals. Let us review the scientific evidence for every possible advantage of hydroponic agriculture and try to construct for ourselves a picture that will allow us to draw conclusions about its ability to serve as a worthy alternative to ordinary agriculture.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE

High nutritional value compared to regular products.

The nutritional value of a product depends on many environmental factors, such as the type of soil or fertilizer (nutrition), the weather, the age of the plant, the collection time, the duration of storage, and more. Many of the studies that show benefits to one side or the other are tainted with difficult systematic problems that drain them of content, so they should be treated with great caution.

Several comprehensive meta-analytical studies of statistical importance have recently been published, and their findings have clearly shown that there is a significant difference in the concentration of vitamins and antioxidants in the body fluids of hydroponic consumers compared to other consumers. Levels of vitamins and other minerals in crops.

Example of a fertilization protocol

ECO-FRIENDLY

To meet market demands and be profitable, the agricultural industry uses fertilizers for plants to match plant growth and production and demand. Ordinary agriculture uses synthetic fertilizers for this purpose, which hydroponic agriculture completely rejects. The use of fertilizers based on nitrates and synthetic phosphors causes environmental problems, for example, contamination of groundwater sources. Scientists are looking for practical ways to deal with this problem, but in practice, there is no escape from using fertilizer in all types of agriculture.

 

Hydroponic agriculture approves the use of various liquid fertilizers built on micro and macro elements with the addition of calcium, magnesium, iron. All elements are at the permissible levels and are ready for proper and responsible use of our nutritional skin.

  

Currently, the issue of antibiotic resistance is the only area where there is clear evidence that hydroponic crops contain fewer bacteria and various pests, and thus the need to use pesticides and / or antibiotics is no longer necessary.

NO-PESTICIDES

There is widespread agreement that pesticides are very harmful to animals and humans. However, technological development in the field has significantly improved their efficiency and dramatically reduced their toxicity to the environment and man.

 

There are currently no comprehensive studies linking chronic exposure to pesticides at levels permitted by the standard to neurodegenerative or hormonal diseases in humans or animals. Most of the reported cases are due to very high exposure to hazardous substances, or wide studies that do not show a significant time-dependent relationship between exposure and injury.

 

A comprehensive, long-term study of about 90,000 people in Iowa in the United States showed that the prevalence of most cancers in farmers who regularly use synthetic pesticides is actually lower than the population average. Pesticides, but could also be attributed to working in the scorching sun or to increased exposure to viruses and pathogens.

 

However, despite all the technological improvements, the significant reduction in the use of pesticides, and the increase in environmental and health control over them, it is still a significant environmental pollutant in all types of agriculture. A sample study conducted by Haaretz found residues of banned pesticides in the use of some hydroponic products. A review of the scientific literature reveals that there is a considerable shortage of comprehensive studies on the environmental and health implications of organic pesticides. As long as there are not enough reliable studies on the subject, it is impossible to determine with certainty whether organic pesticides are healthier or less than conventional pesticides.

 

Another issue worth discussing is biological pesticides, which are based on predatory insects that destroy other harmful insects. Its use is particularly common in organic agriculture, which boasts that thanks to it there are no pesticide residues in its products, but it is also used in traditional agriculture.

 

Biological pesticides can indeed reduce the need for the use of chemical pesticides, but they can sometimes turn into a double-edged sword: importing organisms into a new environment can create invasive species and heavy environmental damage that is difficult to assess in money, and even create irreversible ecological changes and extinction of native species.

NFT SYSTEM 

NFT - Nutrient Film Technique,  is probably the oldest method and the seller in the growing store will probably tell you this, but even though it has been in the field for many years for commercial growers, hydroponic growing systems of this type have only recently been released to the private market. In the NFT method, the plant roots sit in a mesh cup in a U-PVC pipe and feed on a thin stream of the nutrient solution which is pushed out of the water reservoir by a pump and returned to it by gravity.

 

** Important Note - In this method, many companies use non-standard PVC pipes for growing food, which after one to two years the colds secrete "toxins" the toxic substances found in PVC, thus it is chained directly to the plant. Choosing the right company that provides PVC-U systems that are accepted between the opinion of scientists at an international level and the approvals of the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, is very important. 

ADVANTAGES OF NFT GROWING

  • The leading technique as an optimal growing method is NFT growing plants directly in water or alternatively in a detached substrate without using any soil at all!

  • Growth time is reduced by almost 40%

  • The cost of building a system is relatively reasonable for commercial areas.

  • Water remains in the system and can be reused - significant water and fertilizer savings

  • Constant water flow helps prevent rot.

  • Can be grown to height - a large number of plants in a small place. Almost 100% more than any other method.

  • Nutrition and fertilizer levels can be controlled, good with organic fertilizers. - lower fertilization costs.

  • There is no ecological and environmental pollution due to the controlled system.

  • Tumors can be split according to a growth protocol by dividing into small units within a large unit.

  • Stable and high yields

  • Pest and disease treatment is simpler compared to soil growth due to container mobility.

 

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GROW INDOORS

Another benefit of hydroponic farming is that it’s easy to do indoors. Growing indoors comes with its own benefits such as the ability to grow year-round, temperature and climate control, and fewer pests. Hydroponic systems are usually implemented indoors because of the environmental control it offers. With near-perfect growing conditions, plants grow stronger and faster.

In hydroponic farming, plants grow healthier than in soil.

For one thing, soil-borne diseases aren’t an issue in hydroponics because there is no soil for those diseases to fester and spread in. Plus, plants don’t have to spread their roots out in search of nutrients so they get to spend more energy on growing.

WEAKNESS

  • Hydroponic growing systems are sensitive to power failure. The pumps that provide the nutritional solution to plants need to be turned on. During a power outage there is a danger of rapid drying of the plant roots.

  • High initial expenditure compared to growing land.

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