Updated: Oct 11, 2019
Hydroponics is a revolution in agriculture, where plants are grown in a nutrient solution without soil. There are many advantages of soil-less farming over conventional soil farming. The land requirement is quiet low; plant growth rate is high so high yields, off-season production, less water consumption, pesticide free, and no real dependency on the weather if it’s a high-tech farm.
Hydroponic farming is setting its roots all across India. A hydroponic system with greenhouse farming, together they are taking the urban farming to a next level. It is a profitable business to set up hydroponics in India. There are many factors such as large population which makes the prospect of high market growth rate, rich climatic conditions, presence of favorable labor cost and intelligent human capital. Also, the hydroponic methodologies, food safety, pest management and other essential farming expertise, already exist in the market. Moreover, hydroponics is the need of the hour, as due to growing population and urbanization the free land area is diminishing. Urban hydroponic growers are making it possible to eat fresh, pesticide-free produce, high yields, with no soil use.
With few exceptions everything and anything can be grown using hydroponics. If wish to do it on commercial level then there are two major factors to take into consideration - free space and budget, depending what you want to grow and which system is required to be installed for it. You can start hydroponic farming in your garden as well.
The most common and successfully grown crops through hydroponics in India are:
Many types of tomatoes, including traditional and cherry, have been grown widely. They need a growing medium for plant support, pH level 5.5-6.5 and require more sunlight. A wick system or Ebb and flow systems work excellent for tomatoes production.
Lettuce, Radish & Spinach
With hydroponics a cold weather crops like lettuce is being produced throughout the year by maintaining a cool temperature and 6-7 pH level. Hydroponic systems like Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Deep Water Culture (DWC) and an advanced version called Aeroponics , are best for plants like lettuce, radish, spinach, and other leafy vegetables, as they have shallow roots, short above ground height and take less time to mature. So with controlled favorable conditions one can get round the year crop.
The most popular plant grown in commercial hydroponic production is strawberries. It adapts so well in the system and with a maintained warm temperature and pH level 5.5-6, gives year long crop. Plants have deep roots and require support, either Wick system or Ebb and Flow systems are preferable.
The moist environment, lots of light, warm temperature and pH level 5.5-6.5, are the ideal conditions for basil and in result one gets an herb with enhanced flavor. The NFT or Drip system works best for basil crop. There is a wide variety of herbs which grow exceptionally well in hydroponic gardening with a more flavorful and aromatic produce, than those grown in the soil. Basil, chives, cilantro, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme are all great options. All hydroponic systems can be used to grow theses herbs, where nutrient level, pH level, and temperature, needs to be optimized as per the plants need.
Now days, growers with learned skill sets which is required for a successful hydroponic harvesting, making it possible to grow almost all kinds of vegetables. In addition to the aforesaid crops the other frequent produce are potatoes, cabbage, bell pepper, beans, cucumber and kale. Some gardeners are trying to achieve what seems to be impossible and experimenting each day with hydroponics to take it to further.