15 February, 2021
The term hydroponic farming may be new for many; this is fast picking up even in urban areas. Most households' quest to find pesticide-free veggies, especially the greens, has perhaps given the required thrust to this new way of growing crops. The technology that is fast, enabling a lot of innovations in many fields has also contributed to the agricultural arena. Hydroponic farming is one such innovation best suited for the Indian households; more so for the urban homes that are struggling to find space, soil, and time to grow their veggies.
What is Hydroponic Farming?
This system of farming is used to grow crops without soil and much less water. That solves the problems of most people who want to grow their own crops in their balconies or maybe even indoors. It is said that this mode of growing crops uses almost 90% less water than the traditional model. The crop grows on the macro and micronutrients that are directly fed to it through the water. The liquid nutrient solution used to grow the plants could either be static or constantly flowing.
There are various techniques used in this system to grow crops based on what to grow and the other constraints that may arise. Many people are doing this as a commercial venture, setting up their hydroponic farms in huge land acres. Higher productivity, year-round crop yield at a faster growth rate, almost 90% better water utilization, almost zero wastage of nutrients as this is a form of precision farming, are some of the advantages in this system.
How to get started?
If you feel that this seems to be an interesting and healthy hobby that should be taken up, there are some easy ways to set this up. If you want to do this yourself, there are DIY YouTube videos that you can refer to and try your hand. If not, some start-ups can help you set it up, and they specialize in this. You could initially take their help, and in between, if required, but it is easy to maintain and may not require too much effort from your side. Also, depending on the space, you can set it up in many ways, and many methods.
What can be grown?
Many greens and herbs like lettuce, ajwain, basil, mint, coriander, spinach, and even bell peppers and cherry tomatoes can be grown. With some large space and better systems, you can grow the usual household vegetables like cabbage, capsicum, cucumber, beans, tapioca, cauliflower, carrots, radish, brinjal, ladies finger, etc. Some of the commercial farms grow exotic vegetables throughout the year using a combination of these methods. There are even success stories of strawberry farms using hydroponic farming in India.
Once the system is set up, it needs to be checked to see if it functions properly. No plant should be flooded or left dry, if using a continuous water supply, especially due to any clogs. Learn the water or the nutrient refill technique as required as this should not be overdone. If growing in open spaces, then you should watch out for pests as well. Wilting or dead plants should be attended to, and if growing indoors, then the temperature should be maintained.
Some of the plants may need support also as the plants here grow really fast and healthy and also produce good yields. The base of the plant system if not designed to hold the same may be a problem. Those doing at a large scale and indoors may also have to understand the importance of letting some pests and bugs in for pollination. If you are thinking of setting this up in a balcony or a small terrace space, it does not really much maintenance. Some daily checks and water or nutrient refill as required, which is periodic like once in 15 days, is required.
Apart from getting to eat your home-grown veggies and greens, confirmed to be organic, you also get cultivate a healthy hobby. Before you know, you may even end up inspiring a few others to do the same.
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