No doubt, urbanization has numerous benefits, but it also has some challenges. One of which is the availability of land for cultivation of crops. This implies that the food consumed by urban area residents are brought in from other parts of the country (mostly rural areas). Apart from the high cost, the safety of the food is also a significant concern. Sparse road networks and lack of refrigerating vans expose the product to decay before getting to the urban areas. These said. It is imperative that we find an alternative to food production in urban areas. A feasible option is hydroponics.
Hydroponics simply refers to growing plants without soil i.e., soilless farming. It is okay if you think this is some futuristic concept. Surprisingly, hydroponics has been existence since around 7 B.C. Although, its opularity, usage, and seemingly mass adoption is quite recent.
The soil provides the plant with water and nutrients. Also, it fastens the roots of plants. Any medium that can provide these features can successfully replace the soil. In a hydroponics farm, plants are supplied with complete nutrient formula and a medium to fasten their roots.
The recent popularity of hydroponics is not far-fetched. Researchers have discovered the several benefits of hydroponics.
Benefits of Hydroponics
The following are some of the benefits (advantages) of hydroponics.
• No soil is needed. Crops can be grown in areas with limited land and contaminated lands. Crops can also be grown in places where there is no land at all.
• Maximize space and location. You can grow plants in your small apartments or garden. You can plant your crops with little to no spacing, thereby saving spaces.
• Control over the climate. As a hydroponic farmer, you have complete control over temperature, thecomposition of the air, light, and humidity. You do not need to wait for plantin seasons.
• It conserves water. Hydroponics plants utilize 10 % of water compared to plants grown on soil.
• Effective use of nutrients. Hydroponics farmer has absolute (100 %) control of the nutrients required by their plants. There is no loss of nutrients as they are conserved in the tank.
• Controlled pH of the solution. Every single mineral is confined in the water. This implies you can easily measure and adjust the pH for optimal nutrients intake of the plants.
• Rapid growth rate. You harvest your plants on time since you are in absolute control over everything.
• Zero weed. Weeds are associated with soil. Hydroponics does not use soil. This means that hydroponics is free of weed.
• Fewer pests and diseases. Hydroponics plants are grown in a controlled environment; thus, they are not susceptible to diseases and pests.
• Safer foods. Since your plants are grown in a controlled area and are not vulnerable to weeds, pests, and diseases, there will be little or no use of chemicals. This aids the growth of leaner and healthier foods.
• Time and energy are conserved. Apart from the energy and time saved during pre-planting and planting processes, you save lesser time because hydroponics plant grows on time.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
Just like every vital thing, hydroponics has some downsides. However, adequate planning and experience can help overcome these downsides.
• Expertise and experience. Various equipment and devices are used. They all require knowledge. If they are not properly handled, you might ruin the whole process.
• Stable power supply. It is no longer news that power supply in Nigeria is epileptic. If there is no backup plan for electricity, the plants will dry up real quick.
• Capital Intensive. Initially, you spend money to purchase equipment for installation. Subsequently, you will spend money on nutrients and electricity.
• Time and commitment. Hydroponics requires adequate, time, commitment, and dedication. You cannot afford not to check your hydroponics farm for a week.
From what you have read so far, it is obvious that the pros of hydroponics outweighs it cons. To get cheap and safe foods in urban areas, hydroponics is the solution.
We hope you enjoyed this blog post. Next week, we will look at the types of hydroponic system as well as how to set up a hydroponic farm in Nigeria.
Drop your comments and questions below. We will be glad to answer.