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Hydroponics-An Innovative Farming
Dr. Banarsi Lal and Dr. Vikas Tandon1/21/2021 11:03:01 PM
In 1950 the total population of world was 2.6 billion with 800 million in urban centres and 1.8 billion in rural areas. After 100 years e.i. by 2050 we expect 9.2 billion inhabitants with 6.3 billion living in urban areas and only 2.9 billion remaining in the countryside. There is dire need to concentrate on urban environment and food security for the growing population especially in urban areas. Urban agriculture is coming in limelight in the recent years. This has been felt because of (1) Physical and psychological in- and out-door relaxation for urban people (2) For improving the urban areas environment and (3) For food, income security and provide the fresh vegetables round the year for urban dwellers. Hydroponic technique can mitigate all these problems. Hydroponics technique reduces the water needs and cultivation space for plants growth, produces organic vegetables and helps to check the environmental contamination. Now many people are coming forward for urban hydroponics for physical and psychological in and out door relaxation. In arid climate it can increase humidity and lower the temperature. It further can help to reduce the discharge of net CO2 because plants use CO2 for photosynthesis. Hydroponic gardens are raised vertically as there is less space in the urban areas. Hydroponics can help to clean and green the urban areas and thus offer green zones for micro-climate changes. Thus, urban areas dwellers can enjoy such green areas, enhancing the community self-esteem and stimulating community livelihood. Green cities are always demanded by the people and hydroponics can play a pivotal role in greening the cities. Keeping the climate change and food security in view urban agriculture needs the highest attention. Urbanisation needs to be connected with the innovative techniques in agriculture. Urban agriculture can help to produce the food for the city dwellers by utilizing the empty lots, along roadsides, on rooftops and by vertical farming. If done properly it can improve the environment of urban areas thus making urban areas good places to live in. Hydroponics can prove an innovation especially in the urban areas and provides a far more sustainable and appropriate solution. There are different hydroponics systems, for the large scale they are quite sophisticated, capital intensive and require high technical knowledge. Simple hydroponics can be utilized by the low-resource poor urban population living under poverty. By using the hydroponics technique city dwellers can produce the fresh organic vegetables within a short period and this can help to keep them fit. Many countries have introduced hydroponics technique in their urban and semi-urban areas for quality vegetables production.
Hydroponics is the buzzword now- a -day. Many people do not know much about the hydroponics. But the fact is that it is one of the most fastly growing agricultural industries across the globe. The word hydroponics has been derived from the two Greek words "hydro" and "ponos" means working with water. Simply hydroponics can be defined as an art or science of growing plants in water or in an inert growing medium that is enriched with all the necessary nutrients required for the optimum growth of plants. Hydroponic has been developed from the Latin America. In 1978 hydroponic pioneer Dr.Howard Resh published the book on Hydroponics Food Production. People across the globe are now thinking for hydroponics because of lack of fertile farm land and water. Home gardeners can grow the fresh organic vegetables in their balconies of their homes by using the hydroponics technique throughout the year. Plants focus more on growth and it produces more leaves, vegetables and fruits in hydroponic system as the plants get right nutrition, at right time, in right proportion. Many questions arise in the mind when we discuss on hydroponics as we grow the crops in the soilless culture under this system. When we grow plants in water, won't the root rot? This is totally a misconception. Generally plants rot in the stagnant water that is devoid of water.The oxygen present in the water is called as the dissolved oxygen. Roots do not rot in the hydroponics as the water is circulated in the system. In Hydroponics system plants get balanced water and nutrition and this system saves about 80 per cent of water. In hydroponics system, plants are grown without soil so there are least chances of insects-pests and diseases in the crop. The crop is uniformly grown as each plant gets equal nutrition and water. There is no need of crop rotation in the hydroponic system as the same crop can be grown repeatedly. Plants get high quality nutrition in this system so plants growth is more as compared to the open cultivation. Waste areas can be utilized for the hydroponics as the crops are grown in the soilless culture. Hydroponics makes the agriculture possible even in the impossible areas.
In order to grow the hydroponics one needs to have the hydroponics system. There are two types of hydroponics system. One is water based system in which the plants are grown in the water as the medium and soilless system in which the plants are grown in an inert substrate such as the perlite, coco coir, gravel etc. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a very popular system that belongs to the hydroculture category of growing plants. In this system plants are grown in the channel usually made of plastic that allows nutrients solution to flow through it. The oxygen is not depleted in the system and nutrition solution is always flown in the system. This system is very effective to grow the leafy vegetables and herbs. Many firms provide readymade kits and nutrient solution for large scale farming under hydroponics. Deep Water Culture is another important growing system in which a shallow pond or pool is used to float lightweight thermocol or polystyrene in which the holes are drilled. These holes hold the net cups along with the plants. This method of farming is very simple and efficient in space usage. In this system inert substrate is used in place of soil as a growing medium of plants. The substrate contains the water, nutrition and it provides the support to the plants. The water is given either manually as in case of hobby or by automated drip irrigation in case of commercial level of hydroponic system. Leafy green vegetables, salads and herbs can be grown by this system of hydroponics. The cost of the hydroponic unit depends on the choice of the system and type of green house. It ranges between Rs.75, 000 to 1.2 crore. Many firms provide the end-to-end solution, farm design, installations and farm operations. Many agricultural universities have established the demonstrations units of hyderoponics across the nation
In hydroponics there is no problem of weeds. Diseases and insects-pests are also minimized by using the hydroponic technique. Hydroponics plants are healthier with more vigour. Plants under hydroponics technique grow faster and yield an earlier harvest. Hydroponics technique require less space and roots need not to be spread. Water can be reused in hydroponics and thus water can be saved. Hydroponics farming is increasing across the globe and people are showing keen interest in this innovative technology. Commercial level of leafy crops such as spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, mint, thyme etc. can be grown under hydroponics. Tomatoes, capsicum, cucumber, strawberry etc. can also be grown through this system of farming. As this system of farming has gained momentum in India, we may see new changes in the hydroponics system in the future. The agricultural scientists are creating awareness and imparting trainings on hydroponics to the beginners. The hydroponics system can be very useful to produce the organic vegetables especially in the urban and semi-urban areas. KVK, Reasi has also established hydroponics unit at its campus and many people are showing keen interest in this innovative technique of farming.
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