(noun) the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil; soilless growth of plants.
There are 5 main types of hydroponic systems: drip irrigation, ebb and flow, deep water culture, aeroponics, and nutrient film.
We use two types in the Leafy Green Machine™.
Drip Irrigation System
Water emitters drip a nutrient-rich water solution onto a growing medium where the plant roots are located.
In the Freight Farms’ hydroponic farm, emitters drip water onto the tops of our 256 crop columns. From there, the water drips down to the plant roots. A wicking material in the columns helps draw the water to the plants' roots. The water that isn’t consumed by the plants flows out the bottom of the tower and is then recirculated right back to the emitters.
This recirculated drip irrigation system is very water-efficient, using less than 5 gallons a day to support the growth of up to 5,000 plants.
Ebb and Flow System
Plants grow in a bed that periodically floods and drains with the nutrient rich water solution.
The seedling station in the Leafy Green Machine uses this system. A shallow trough, holding up to 12 trays of seedlings, is pumped full of water and then allowed to drain several times each day. This timing provides just the right amount of water for the seedlings to grow.
Deep Water Culture: Plants are supported on a floating material while the roots hang below in the nutrient solution.
Aeroponics: Plant roots hang suspended in the air and are periodically misted with the nutrient solution.
Nutrient Film Technique: The nutrient solution is pumped through a channel in which the plant roots lie.
Advantages of Farming with Hydroponics
Hydroponic systems require no tilling, weeding, heavy-lifting, or extensive stooping and kneeling. Reduce labor without affecting yields.
Hydroponic systems use significantly less water than soil-based farming and allow you to recycle the water you give to your plants.
Food is typically vulnerable to extreme weather and pests. Hydroponic systems can be set up indoors, away from harmful elements.
With plants safe from pests and elements, hydroponic systems allow growers to grow and harvest consistently, regardless of seasonality.