1. Space Saving
Hydroponics saves an incredible amount of space compared to traditional soil gardening. Usually, a plant’s roots need space to spread out through the soil. Not anymore! Instead, they are submerged in a bath of oxygenated nutrient solution.
Imagine if you had everything you needed to eat in a little pill.
You didn’t need to hunt around for food or eat three meals a day – you simply popped the pill and your body was dosed with a perfect supply of nutrients.
This is what hydroponics provides your plants. Instead of using soil as a carrier for the nutrients your plants need, hydroponics uses a customized nutrient solution to surround your plants with perfectly calibrated nutrition all of the time. There is no need for plants to spread their roots out in search of nutrients like they have to in soil meaning smaller root systems.
Because of this, you get to pack your plants closer together, resulting in a huge space savings!
It has been quoted that growing hydroponically can take up to 50% less land to grow.
2. More efficient water use
In conventional soil gardening when a gardener waters the plants some of that water drips out of the bottom of their container or seeps further into the ground. Some of it evaporates out of the soil. Only a small percentage of the water is actually used by the plant.
Hydroponics solves the soil gardening watering wastage issue by using what is called a recirculating nutrient reservoir in most types of systems (Deep Water Culture being one of the most popular).
This means that a plant’s roots will only take up the amount of water they need at any one time and leave the rest in the reservoir for later. The reservoir is covered to prevent evaporation and no water can seep out of the bottom.
This allows the same amount of water that was used to water a plant in soil for a day to water a plant in a hydroponics setup for days or weeks at a time. You can save around 90% of the water used in soil gardening simply by switching to a hydroponic setup.
3. Faster and greater potential yields
Hydroponics speeds up the growth of the plant by 30% faster than in soil. Plants grown hydroponically tend to grow much faster and larger than plants grown traditionally in soil. The main reason why plants may grow faster in a hydroponic system is because the growers can create the ideal blend of nutrients. This gets delivered directly to the plants’ root systems via a continuous flow of nutrient solution. Because these nutrients are received directly by the roots, the plants aren’t forced to expend energy in search of nutrients as they would in soil, where plant food becomes diluted. As a result, the root systems in hydroponically-grown plants don’t grow out and so this growth is now realized in the form of upward growth.
If you’re growing outdoors, faster growth means you get to squeeze in more harvest cycles before your growing season ends. For example, you can take a head of lettuce from seedling to harvest in around a month in hydroponics compared to two months in soil.
In a hydroponic garden, more plants can grow at once. This is because their root systems aren’t fighting for the space required to find enough nutrients as they would in soil. An even distribution of nutrient solution eliminates the need to compete meaning the grower is able to place plants in the system at a higher density.
Growing hydroponically means that you can grow up to 80% more fruit, buds and flowers. According to this NASA study.
4. Cleaner. No soil, so less mess
Most hydroponic gardening takes place indoors or in a greenhouse. Hydroponics also is inherently soil-less. This means you don’t have to get too dirty like you would in a traditional garden.
5. Can be grown almost anywhere
As NASA’s astronauts prepare to fulfill the Vision for Space Exploration with increasingly lengthy missions, scientists are trying to find a way for them to grow their own food. Hydroponics fits the bill perfectly as plants can be grown in controlled conditions without soil and in smaller spaces, they can also be grown vertically.
Hydroponics is ideal for people who want to grow plants and vegetables but have limited space or land. Grow on walls, on your patio, balcony, in your flat, on Mars, in the Arctic Circle, on a ship!
6. Less pests and disease – less pesticides
Most bugs and bacteria which cause disease to plants are found in soil. Soil is taken out of the picture and replaced with one of the common hydroponic growing media. Eliminating soil also eliminates a lot of the different soil borne diseases and pests that plague traditional gardening. When plants are grown in controlled indoor environments and are healthy, pests and disease are far less common. Cleanliness can go a long way to ensuring potential issues do not arise. No root rot disease, less dangerous fungal disease.
7. Can be done all year round
Most hydroponic growing is done inside greenhouses or even indoors. By growing indoors under controlled conditions you can control temperature and light as well as nutrients which means you are not reliant on the outside and seasonal changes. Indoors or covered outdoors your plants are protected from rain, hail, sleet, snow, hurricanes and Mars wind storms.
8. Easier to harvest
Many hydroponics systems can be designed with harvesting in mind. Unlike in a field where the worker must bend over constantly and toil with the soil, a hydroponics system can be designed to be at a more optimal upright position. Strawberries for example can be grown higher than ground level and the mature fruit dangles down for easy picking. The hydroponic system can always be customised for better ergonomics and productivity.
9. Total control
Hydroponics can be measured more closely than traditional gardening and there are many devices that can be utilised to that end. There are a wide range of PH monitors and conductivity meters that can monitor your nutrients and even system that can automatically dose the tank for designed ranges.
10. No weeding – less labor
With perhaps the exception of a media filled bed style system there will be almost no opportunity for weeds that were not intentionally planted. No soil, no weeds. No back breaking weeding. Weeds don’t grow in hydroponics.