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Sunday, April 3, 2011

My Experiment with Hydroponics - Part 1

Hi All,

Happy Ugadi !!

My latest found fascination is Hydroponics cultivation, Hence would like to dedicate this post to explain the fundamentals of it, the way i understand.

What is Hydroponics Cultivation?
Simple Answer is Soil less cultivation.

Hydroponics as defined in Wikipedia
"Hydroponics (From the Greek hydro, water, and ponics, labour) is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk."

The whole idea behind hydroponics is to ensure soil borne diseases effecting the plant growth is eliminated. understanding the Nutrient and other environmental conditional requirements, and supplying them regularly, enables maximum yield to one's genetic potential.

In the process, By striking off the unknown entities (Soil Borne Diseases) and ensuring conditional requirements like Nutrients Strength, PH, Moisture Level, Root Zone Temperatures, Electrical Conductivity are met. We bring in lot of certainty to the whole cultivation.

Although traces of the known History of Hydroponics goes back to 16th Century or probably even before that, still the road is so less traveled, Since it leaves lot of scope to improvise/ innovate.

There are lot of critics around this form of cultivation, as to say chemical based cultivation, Organic /Inorganic, technology awareness to the farmer, cost of infrastructure, local consultancy or neighborhood awareness etc.

I will leave all those debatable stuff for the people to debate, I liked the fact that the process brings in lot of certainty to cultivation, bringing in more defined parameters to control for profits.

From the consumer point of view, Since hydroponics is practiced in a controlled environment, pests and general infestation is restricted to the Max. in turn this eliminates harmful pesticide application on the fruits and vegetables we consume.
Due to the supply of all the necessary nutrients to the plants, fruits or vegetables will be of better nutrient values in compliance with its genetics. this also increases shelf life :)

So i see it as Win Win for both Farmer and Consumer.

There are different practices within Hydroponics like Deep Water Channel system, Nutrient Film Technique, Flow and Drip etc.
In all the techniques, what's important to understand is to know what is holding the plant and the roots (Substrate), How NS is supplied to it, and at the same time how other conditional parameters are managed.

To make it simple, for my first experiment i choose to grow Tomato & Capsicum with the Coco pet as substrate. intention is the regularly irrigate the plants with the NS and collect back the runoff for recirculation.

I will explain the setup in the next part.


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