One of the most important benefits of hydroponics over soil is the fact that crops grow significantly faster. In fact, hydroponic crops can grow 30 to 50% faster than in soil.
To put that in perspective, lettuce which normally takes 70 to 80 days from seed will take 45 days hydroponically. If you were to cultivate lettuce year-round, this would mean that, instead of 4.5 crop cycles you would be getting 8. Almost twice the income per year!
This may all seem too good to be true, so in this article we will break down exactly how such a speed boost is obtained. We will look at the unique advantages that hydroponic systems have over soil, and how they all contribute to giving the hydroponic grower the edge in the market.
Constant access to water
Water is life, and this is especially true for plants. So much so, that a plat will dedicate a significant portion of its energy to seeking our water by growing a large root system.
A day without water for a plant is a day without growth. Plants will thus invest vast amounts of energy and resources into growing extensive root systems in the soil to increase their chances of catching some moisture.
Now as a grower, if you are not growing a plant for its roots, this energy and resource investment won’t be returned to you in full.
With that in mind, let’s consider hydroponics.
In any hydroponic system, your plant will have constant access to all the water it needs, all the time.
This means that your plant does not need to struggle nearly as much in a desperate scramble for water. It can instead invest that energy and nutrition into growing its edible parts.
The end result is that your marketable crop will grow bigger and quicker. Less money thrown into the compost!
Better access to nutrition
Plants convert the nutrition they receive into mass. As such, the better nutrition they get, the more mass they will gain.
Similar to the case with water, plants grow their roots out to seek out as much nutrition as they can in their surroundings. In hydroponics, those nutrients are delivered directly to their roots, so they don’t need as large a root system to have the same benefit.
But that’s not all. Hydroponic nutrients are designed to be taken up by the plant with as little effort.
Imagine if you had a hot delicious meal served right into your plate for free whenever you got hungry. You’re bound to put on a lot of weight quickly!
Soil is teeming with life. A variety of microbes, insects, worms and plants make the soil their home. Unfortunately, not all of them are friendly to our crops.
When planted in the soil, a crop will have to compete especially with other plants for precious water and nutrients. Every nutrient that goes to a weed instead of your plant is a little bit of precious growth lost. If left unchecked, weeds will stunt your produce.
In the soil a variety of other organisms will help themselves to your crop; either for food or nesting, causing damage and hampering its growth.
Harmful diseases are plentiful in all soils, and will build up after every season making crop rotation and spraying necessary. In the soil, your plant will have to focus more resources fighting off threats and competition than in a sterile, hydroponic medium.
Hydroponic plants live a soft, stress free life, and thus they thrive.
In addition to this, the grower will save on nutrients and herbicide costs. This translates to not only major cost savings, but also a much safer crop.
All of the above advantages in hydroponics culminate in a crop that is much easier and cheaper to manage.
For hydroponics, there is no need to remember to irrigate, or to conduct time consuming weed control. Measuring the needed fertilisers is straightforward and thanks to the compact space, it is easier to detect problems as they arise.
With hydroponics therefore, the chance that you will make an oversight that could hamper your crop is much smaller, meaning it is more likely to be at peak performance throughout its lifespan
Hydroponics allows crops to grow faster by providing them with the optimal growing conditions needed for them to thrive.