How can we produce enough food to sustain an increasing population? Growing plants without soil could be the answer!
More eco-friendly: Water in a hydroponic system can be recycled – at its most efficient a hydroponic farm only uses 10% of the water a normal farm uses. Because it’s a closed system, nutrients don’t leach away – an efficient hydroponic farm may only use 25% of the fertiliser a regular farm uses. Plus, eutrophication (dense growth of aquatic plants like algae caused by run-off of fertiliser) isn’t a problem. Soil pests are non-existent, and in enclosed greenhouses natural predators can be used to control insect pests – next to no pesticide is required.
Increased productivity: Using nutrient solutions, artificial lights, heaters and other pieces of equipment, plants can be made to develop faster, produce larger yields and grow all year round.
Feasibility in areas not suited to traditional farming: Its high water efficiency makes hydroponic farming possible in arid environments. Hydroponic growing trays can be stacked on top of one another, and plants can be placed closer side by side than they can in soil, making it vastly more space-efficient than traditional farming. Because nearly all environmental conditions can be controlled artificially, unconventional growing spaces can be used – uninhabited buildings, disused railway tunnels, etc.
Reduced transportation: Crops can be grown away from their natural habitats and closer to consumers, reducing transport emissions and providing people with fresher goods.
Monoculture not a problem: Farmers don’t need to worry about exhausting their fields of certain nutrients through growing the same crop over and over – there is no need for crop rotation, so in-demand crops can be focused on.