Vertical Hydroponic Farming – An Effective Solution to the Future Problem of Food Scarcity
Vertical hydroponic gardening is a wonderful invention in which you don’t need soil to grow plants! It has shown 30% to 50% faster growth of plants than soil planting. The nutrients needed for plant growth are added to the water from where they reach the root system of the plant, and the plant uses much of the energy for growth of fruits and flowers, instead of they would use in the search process (searching nutrients in non-hydroponic systems). If you are a farmer or just a gardening enthusiast, you can develop a beautiful and well-developed garden with the help of DIY vertical hydroponic kit.
Various media are used to direct the nutrients towards plants, like coco coir, perlite and Rockwool. Another major factor to consider is pH level. However, most plants grow in the pH range of 5.8 to 6.8. Hydroponic systems can be both – active and passive.
How does Vertical Hydroponic System Work?
In the vertical hydroponic system a shallow stream of water, rich in nutrients is passed over the bare roots inside stacking containers. Because of this system, the complications of over/under watering that normally arise with the usual garden are totally eliminated. With vertical hydroponic garden, the problems of space and growing period are also eliminated, and plant yield is maximized. And you just have to plug it in and forget (not all the time though, lol)!
Two Types of Hydroponic Systems
There are two types of hydroponic systems, viz. drip-to-waste and recirculating. In the drip-to-waste the runoff from the solution of nutrients is drained in the ground, while in the recirculating type, the runoff is collected, reloaded with nutrients and reapplied.
In a drip-to-waste system, the plants are held either in stacking containers, nested pots or leach trays. The media used are Perlite, coconut fiber or Rockwool which have higher water holding capacity. The nutrient-rich water solution is passed over the roots of the plants in the containers or trays with the help of a pump and a dripper. After that, the solution is drained in the ground thus it is not brought into use again, unlike recirculating system, where the same solution is recycled through channels. These channels hold the plants with their roots flourishing inside the channels and the solution is passed over them in the recirculating type of system.
The Magic Tower has developed a still unique system of drip-to-waste hydroponic garden which is either manually or automatically fed. The specialty of The Magic Tower is the nutrient-rich water is not wasted at all! When this water solution is fed with a watering cup (manual) or a pump (automatic), the successive containers go on getting the solution from the container above them. The ground container gets the last in the runoff and thus there is no wastage at all!
The drip-to-waste system is more preferred by gardeners because it provides more control over the quantity of nutrients in the solution, whereas in the recirculating system, the solution becomes imbalanced after a while unless it is tested for each ingredient. A quickly growing crop like tomato can take up a significant amount of nutrients every day. In the drip-to-waste system the gardener can increase the time of feeding and can rest assured that a balanced solution is being provided to the crop.
Advantages of Drip-to-waste Hydroponic System: Drip-to-waste system uses a fresh nutrient solution; therefore the pH of the solution isn’t subject to change. Because of this, drip-to-waste system needs less maintenance, as compared to the recirculating system, wherein periodic testing and adjustments of the solution are required.
In recirculating system, there are high chances of growth of pathogens which can spread quickly and infect other plants in the same reservoir. On the other hand, drip-to-waste is free from pathogens because the water goes to a drain and not to the main reservoir; so, the spores of pathogens cannot infect the reservoir.
In drip-to-waste system the problem of nutrient lockout is extremely rare because the plants are fed the same nutrients with each feeding.
Importance of Healthy Roots
A healthy root system of a young plant is denoted by plenty of hairy root tips propelling out from everywhere. A healthy root system of a mature plant will be strong and fibrous with a dense root mat. The vertical hydroponic system produces a healthy, thick, furry root system.
This root mat develops partially in the shallow flow of solution and partially above it, thereby exposing the roots to oxygen inside container.
More Yield Per Square Meter
When you grow plants in soil, they are subject to a wide range of soil born problems like fungus, plant diseases, pests and insects, water deficiency problems and many such complications.
Hydroponics vertical system on the other hand provides the plants optimum levels of airflow and natural light, because of the increased surface area exposed to sunlight. This is combined with a continuous supply of water, oxygen and nutrients, which reflects in form of healthy, disease-free and thriving plants.
Securing the Future
It is guessed that by 2050, total world population will increase by 3 billion, and almost 80% of it will live in cities. If plants are grown conventionally, you can imagine how vast land will be required to grow food for such a huge population. Scientists are worried that such a large amount of farmland won’t be available and because of added farmland, severe damage will be caused to the earth. In such a scenario, if vertical hydroponic farms are developed properly they may eliminate the requirement of additional farmland and also make the environment cleaner and safer, in addition to comfortably meeting the growing needs of food of the increased population.
Magic Tower provides unique and beautiful Magic Tower hydroponic systems which can be assembled within an hour. Each system comes with nutrients for one entire season. The medium they provide is a mixture of coco coir and perlite which lasts for over ten years and can be used again and again. As mentioned above automatic Magic Tower systems are also available with an irrigation system that waters the plants automatically without needing your supervision. Look at the images of some of their amazing projects and products in this article and many more on their website.