In the field of sustainable and alternative farming, hydroponic integrated farming is a rising trend. It is revolutionizing what farming means and helping us rethink how plants are grown. More and more people are now eager to learn about the different hydroponic systems, hydroponic nutrients, and the various plants that lend themselves to the process of hydroponic farming.
If you are just discovering the wonders of this method of soil-less farming, you’re in for a treat. In a nutshell, hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil, switching it to a nutrient-rich medium like water instead.
The science behind hydroponics is fairly simple and the technique is pretty straightforward. Thus, almost anyone can become a hydroponic farmer. Whether you are a seasoned farmer or an amateur who is somewhat of a black thumb, you will most likely be able to grow hydroponic plants.
There are just a few things that you should understand and imbibe before you can start growing hydroponic plants. One of those is knowing the nutrient solution that your plant requires.
What is a nutrient solution?
Hydroponic nutrient solutions are basically made of a liquid base to which all essential nutrients are added. They serve the same purpose as fertilisers that are used for traditional farming.
Additionally, compared to conventional farming, hydroponics makes the process easier since you can measure and add the exact amount of nutrients in the solution.
But that also means that you will have to be more careful when choosing and mixing the precise quantities of these nutrients. That is why it’s important for every grower to learn about hydroponic nutrients.
Is there a set formula for all hydroponic nutrient solutions?
In one word, the answer is a resounding no. This is because every plant requires a different combination of nutrients. Other than plant type, the composition of nutrients for hydroponics also depends on factors like plant growth stage, the parts of the plant to which you want to bring the most yields, light intensity, climate, temperature, the season, etc. So, different formulas have been developed for hydroponics.
But while there are different formulas, the underlying nutrients remain the same for almost all plants.
Let’s delve into these essential nutrients, which are categorized into basic nutrients, macronutrients, and micronutrients for the sake of convenience.
In order to survive, plants have to respire, get moisture, and photosynthesize. For these processes, they require Oxygen, Carbon, and Hydrogen. Usually, plants get these easily from air and water. And the energy to make food is gained from sunlight.
These organic composts are extremely crucial for the growth of your hydroponic plants because without these your plants are bound to die.
Once you’ve ensured that there is an adequate supply of the basic nutrients, you can move on to focusing on macronutrients. While these are important, your plants might probably be alive without them. They will not develop properly, but if there’s an inadequate supply of these, the situation is not beyond repair.
Macronutrients are those hydroponic nutrients that plants need to absorb in large quantities in order to thrive.
Nitrogen is mainly responsible for the vegetative growth of plants, especially the leaves, stems, and their colour. Nitrogen also plays an important role in the formation of chlorophyll, amino acids, coenzymes, and proteins.
Phosphorus is a fundamental component of DNA and it also helps issue formation, and cell division. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in the development of flowering, fruits, seeds, and roots.
Potassium contributes to a variety of essential processes like photosynthesis, starch formation, protein synthesis, and enzyme activation.
Calcium is an important part of cell formation and development.
Sulphur is a structural component of two amino acids that constitute protein. It also aids the activation and formation of some enzymes and vitamins.
Magnesium is one of the chemical components that constitute chlorophyll. Moreover, it helps the creation of oxygen through photosynthesis.
Though these nutrients are required in small quantities, they are still very important for the development of your hydroponic plants.
Zinc is a very important part of chlorophyll formation as well as nitrogen metabolism.
Boron, along with calcium, synthesizes the structure of cell membranes. It also plays a role in pollination and seed production.
Iron contributes to the process of photosynthesis. It is also a component of many enzymes that are associated with energy provision.
Manganese catalyzes the growth process and helps in the formation of oxygen for photosynthesis.
So, how do you select the right nutrient solution?
Now that you know about the essential nutrients for hydroponics, you can create your own nutrient solution. But if you are a beginner, it is recommended to buy a hydroponic nutrient package from the store. Once you have gained a bit of experience, you can start experimenting and mixing your own nutrients.
If you walk down a store and look at the various nutrient solutions available, you will notice that there are 3 numbers in percentages. These refer to the amount of the three important nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium.
For instance, if the bottle indicates ‘10-10-10’, each of the three nutrients consists of 10% of the solution. The rest of 70% constitutes water and micro-nutrients.
To get you started, here are some recommended combinations of nutrients for different types of hydroponic plants.
Is that all?
Before you go out and start buying nutrient solutions for your hydroponic plants, you should keep one thing in mind. If you buy a nutrient solution, make sure that it has been formulated specifically for hydroponics only.
At first, it might seem more effective to buy an all-purpose package that can be used in both soil and hydroponics. But the usual fertilizers do not contain the micronutrients necessary for hydroponic plants.
All in all, just remember to check the contents of a hydroponic nutrient solution before you decide to buy it. And if you aren’t sure about what to look for, it is advisable to consult an expert.
As one of the leading companies in the space of hydroponic farming in India, we offer a variety of products and services to help you get started and then sustain a hydroponic farming system.
We also organize training and webinars to help you learn about hydroponics and reap the benefits of growing your own hydroponic plants. To learn more, get in touch with us.