Hydroponic methods of plant growth rely on rapid root growth (therefore rapid plant growth) and a variety of other factors. The easiest way to encourage rapid root growth is by selecting a growing media that allows your plants to absorb as many nutrients as possible – in this case, hydroponics generally uses Coco Coir, Perlite, Clay Balls or NFT (Nutrient Film Technique). Each of these methods has pros and cons, but all can be done anytime and anywhere, from a small Melbourne apartment to a Sydney office desk, or anywhere else with enough space to hold a hydroponic fish tank. Check out our blog for examples of hydroponic systems we’ve installed all over Australia and more information.
What is hydroponics?
Hydroponic methods of plant growth rely on rapid root growth (therefore rapid plant growth) and a variety of other factors. The easiest way to encourage rapid root growth is by selecting a growing media that allows your plants to absorb as manny nutrients as possible (usually known as soil when referring to conventional grow methods), in this case hydroponics generally uses COCO coir, Perlite, Clay Balls or NFT (Nutrient Film Technique).
Each of these methods have pros and cons that are explained below. Let's start with COCO Coir....
Growth mediums for hydroponic – Where do the roots grow?
Coco coir is a byproduct of coconut fibre, basically the outer shell of the coconut is ground into a form of soil. There is a process behind this called retting. Coco Coir is then pressed into bricks, discs, coir pots or simply bagged. It is also an organic, environmentally sustainable substrate when new production methods made it possible to create hardier product.
Not only is Coco Coir an environmentally friendly option, there are other incredible benefits. Coco Coir is much more aerated than normal soil, which means it doesn't hold as much water. This means you can feed the plants more frequently and increase nutrient delivery; which will result in faster overall plant growth. To learn more about Coco Coir visit our blog page.
Clay balls, also known as expanded clay, are more frequently used in Aquaponics over Hydroponics. In saying that, clay balls are an advanced method of hydroponic farming for those that want to reap the rewards of harder work. These types of garden beds are reusable for years on end and provide stabilised pH and high pore space for micro-bacteria, again contributing to rapid root growth. However, clay balls do not retain fluid for very long at all, therefore feeding cycles need to be frequent and constant. If the system fails and deprives plants of frequent feeding, they will quickly begin to die, unlike soil and coco that retain much more nutrient and fluid.
Nutrient Film technique
Picture a river stream. Often there are trees and shrubs that grow on the river bed. NFT systems are similar. They use a very shallow stream of water that contains nutrients. The nutrient rich water is recirculated via a pump and special gullies. These gullies are also shallow and plant roots are completely bare.
This form of hydroponic growing is like injecting a human being with vitamins and minerals directly into a vain. The bare roots are exposed directly to a constant flow of nutrients. This allows maximum uptake of nutrient and extremely rapid growth as the plant is continuously consuming what it needs. On the other hand, similar to clay balls, plants will die very quickly if the system fails.
Hydroponic nutrients are generally in a liquid form so they can be absorbed by the plant quickly. It is important to note that all primary nutrient bases generally include calcium nitrate, potassium sulphate, potassium nitrate, mono potassium phosphate and magnesium sulphate as these are essential for healthy plant growth. You may be wondering whether these chemicals are organic or synthetic. Organic Hydroponics pose some challenges such as pH instability, though there are several brands that are completely organic and a large amount of non-organic nutrient companies.
We’re passionate about delivering sustainable hydroponic systems from Melbourne to wider Australia
Our Melbourne-based team is driven to create a positive and lasting change through sustainable Hydroponics systems. We’d love for you to join us on our mission to feed mankind in a way that values our precious natural resources and protects our planet, so why not shop our range of hydroponic fish tanks and other products, or get in touch with us for more information on sustainable growing.