Article originally published by Herb.co
Written by Herb.co Staff
Hydroponic growing is a method of growing plants without soil. Rather than good ol’ dirt, they use nutrient-rich solutions or materials instead. There are many benefits to using hydroponics. They’re fast, efficient, and great for those looking to really crank out a harvest. If you’re on the fence about soil-less systems, here are five benefits you’ll want to consider before making any judgement calls.
1. Water saver
Hydroponic systems have been cited to use up to 90% less water than soil methods. This makes them more sustainable for indoors, especially if you live in a drought-prone area. Hydroponic systems recirculate water. This means that water is used again and again, after being run through a pump. Traditional soil methods require you to water every 2-3 days, depending on climate. Water in soil systems evaporates over time, so you need to replenish often.
The downfall is that nutrients become more concentrated as the solution continues to recirculate. So, hydroponic reservoirs need to replenish often.
The downfall is that nutrients become more concentrated as the solution continues to recirculate. So, hydroponic reservoirs need to be changed at least once a week. If not every four days or so. You also have to top off your reservoir with fresh water every day or two.
2. Space efficient
You can plant 4x more crops in the same space as traditional soil farming, which is a major reason why many who grow indoors use hydroponics. Plants are often fed with a drip feeder that connects to a reservoir below. This means you can fit several plants on top of a table and save space with smaller containers. Sometimes these containers might be suspended in a pool of solution. If you plant in soil, you can expect to plant in a minimum 5-gallon bucket.
The ability to stack and crowd cannabis plants is one reason that hydroponic systems are preferable for those looking to grow more than just a plant or two. You can very easily squeeze a fairly large harvest into a small space. However, reservoir buckets and a proper table set up still can take up a bit of room. So, expect to fill up a closet or other grow space with ease.
3. Hydroponics = Zero soil
By using solutions or different materials to replace the soil, you’re able to control the pH, nutrient, and oxygen levels for the plants. These nutrients are then delivered straight to the roots. With hydroponics, you are in ultimate control over everything that happens to your plants. This makes it fairly easy to troubleshoot. Once you get a nice nutrient regimen going, you can easily set up a growing routine that is easy to replicate time and time again. This gives you a dependable harvest.
With soil, you always face a certain degree of uncertainty. Organisms like to live in soil, you have to deal with potential soil-borne pathogens, and you don’t always know exactly what nutrients your plant is getting. So, if you’re the type that likes to have everything precise and orderly almost every time, hydroponics are for you.
4. Double speed
Due to the fact that we can give the plant exactly the right amount of nutrients & oxygen, plants can grow twice as fast compared to soil farming. By directly providing high-quality nutrients, you’re essentially feeding your plant steroids. Plants grow so well on this superfood that you can expect to see exponential growth each day. This means that you can harvest faster and turn out a crop more quickly.
This is another key reason many large-scale growers go hydroponic. If you need to produce as many plants as you can as rapidly as possible, hydroponics are the way to go. The downside is that they will not get as big as soil-grown plants. Especially if those plants are grown outside.
5. Fewer pesticides and herbicides
Cannabis plants love growing in soil. But, so do all other plants out there. It can be difficult to keep on top of weeding and getting rid of unwanted neighbors that crowd out your cannabis. This problem is non-existent with hydroponic systems. Each cannabis plant is grown in its own tiny container. Nutrients are given directly to the plant. There is no way for other plants to grow. This means that you can avoid spraying harsh chemical herbicides or wasting time on weeding.
Pesticide use also drastically decreases in indoor environments. Insects like to live in the soil, and there is no soil here. That means that you can kiss many soil-borne pests goodbye. There are a few pests that will still attack plants in hydroponic systems, however. The most common are aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips. These pests are attracted to hydroponic systems because of constant moisture. Constant moisture also makes your plants susceptible to mildews, fungus, and pathogenic bacteria.
Making sure your grow environment is clean and pristine, to begin with, can mitigate this problem.
These five facts are a simple start to hydroponic gardening. There are various types of hydroponic setups, and you definitely need to do your research on optimal nutrient levels before growing. Hydroponic systems also use the same lighting and ventilation systems found with indoor soil growing. So, growing medium and nutrient distribution are really the two biggest differences between the two styles. If you’d like to learn about the pros and cons of soil growing, click here.