Difference between Hydroponics Aquaponics and Aeroponics
Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Aeroponics are the three different methods, but with the same concept of growing plants very sustainably. Just like the three names end with similar suffixes and different prefixes, they have many similarities yet are very contrasting from each other. All three farming methods are done indoors, but there is a massive difference in the supply of nutrients to the plants. Indoor farming can be done in two ways - by growing plants in soil or by different soilless techniques.
Hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics all fall in the category of soilless farming techniques. In Hydroponics, the plants are grown in suspended water, aquaponics is a combined technique of Hydroponics and fish farming as an integrated system, and in aeroponics, the roots of the plants are exposed to nutrients in pure air.
We at Himalayan Greens, Haldwani, will discuss the Difference between Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Aeroponics. Himalayan Green is a Hydroponic farm in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, producing and selling fresh fiber-rich food products such as Herbs, Lettuce, green vegetables, and other vine crops. Hydroponic farming is the most popular out of the three farming practices.
So, let us first understand Hydroponics and its benefits. Then, we will further discuss Aquaponics and Aeroponics.
Hydroponics is a method of farming in which the plant grows in a soilless substrate suspended in nutrient-rich water. Hydroponic farming comes with many different setups such as Ebb and Flow, Nutrient Film, Drip Systems, and Deep-Water Culture. If we talk about the most basic setup, the seeds germinate in a soilless substrate such as rock wool and clay pellets. Then, the plants sit on a growing net, and the roots submerge underwater with a fixed concentration of nutrients in them.
Advantages of Hydroponics-
- The best and essential advantage of considering Hydroponic farming is that it saves up to 90% of water, compared to traditional farming methods.
- Plants grow in vertical gardens that help production increase by 3 to 10 times and that too in the same amount of space.
- As hydroponic farming is indoors in an environment with full control, many crops such as lettuce and herbs grow twice as fast than traditional methods.
- The end product has a very high nutritional value as the farming is without using chemical fertilizers. Also, decreasing the time between harvest and consumption increases the nutritional value of the end product.
- Hydroponic farms can exist in places where weather and soil conditions are not favorable for traditional food production.
Aquaponics is a combination of two farming methods - Hydroponics and fish farming. This method of growing plants is very efficient and, at the same time, sustainable too. It all starts with the raising of fish on a fish farm. Aquaponic farmers raise fish in the tanks. The waste produced by them goes through many different processes. In the end, the bacteria and microbes transform the waste into nutrient-rich food for plants. The plants purify this water, and the water is put back in the fish tanks. In this case, the plants grow hydroponically, but plants and fish are both benefitting from each other.
Advantages of Aquaponics-
- With aquaponics, we can grow two agricultural produce - fish and vegetables. They grow from the same nitrogen source, i.e., fish food.
- Aquaponics is very sustainable and saves much water. It is a fact that aquaponics only needs 1/6th of the water to grow eight the food than traditional agriculture.
- Aquaponics is soilless farming, so, therefore, it is not susceptible to soil-borne diseases.
- It creates little waste, as it works as per natural cycle in which fish waste has its use as an intake by the plants to help them gain rich nutrients.
- Aquaponics is possible anywhere, be it non-arable lands such as deserts, degraded soil, or salty, sandy islands.
Unlike Hydroponics and aquaponics, aeroponics eliminates the need for a water tank. NASA pioneered this technique in their excellent farming initiatives in space. The plants grow in a soilless substrate and nestled in a growing net, but their roots hang in a covered, lightly sealed tank. Instead of filling or circulating a nutrient solution from the tank for the roots to pick up, it has a specially designed spray system. This system distributes a nutrient solution directly to the roots on a tight schedule. As a result, everything plants need to thrive, with little or no waste.
Advantages of Aeroponics-
- One of the first advantages of aeroponics is that the growth of the plants is way faster as the plants are in constant supply of oxygen 24X7.
- The aeroponic system is easy to maintain. The root chamber, reservoir, and irrigation channels need cleaning periodically, which can invite bacterial growth.
- Aeroponic plants need fewer nutrients and water on average because nutrient absorption is higher than typical plants.
- Also, plants usually respond to aeroponic systems by growing even more roots.
- Plants can be moved without much effort, as we only need to move the plants from one collar to another.
- We do not need much space to start an aeroponic garden. Depending on the system, the plants can be stacked. Aeroponics is a modular system, which is perfect for maxing out limited space.
These three systems have many advantages over the traditional farming methods practiced in India. It not only saves much space but it also produces more crops at the same time while being environmentally friendly too. At Himalayan Greens, Haldwani, we are working to promote the hydroponic farms in Uttarakhand and other parts of India. By choosing these farming techniques, humans get healthy and fresh farm products rich in fiber and chemical-free. We hope that all of us learned about the Difference between Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Aeroponics with this article.
To know more about Hydroponics, read this blog on 'An Introduction to Hydroponic Farming.'