Which system do you choose ?
Both hydroponics and aquaponics have key advantages over ‘traditional’ growing methods.
For example they will help you get better yields, faster results, etc.
In this article we will cover:
- Hydroponics – what is it & how to use it
- Aquaponics – what is it & how to use it
- When to use hydroponics or aquaponics and why
Taking them in turn:
1. Hydroponics – what is it & how to use it
When you use hydroponics you will be using a growing system that has major advantages over traditional methods.
Hydroponics is a very simple system where
- You don’t grow your plants using soil,
- But instead grow them with the roots growing in water (not soil)
- And then you add nutrients into the water.
Because it’s so effective it’s become the main production method for many commercial growers when they grow crops like tomatoes, basil or lettuce. Or (for example) it’s a method very popular among marijuana growers because of the quick & better crops. (Often grown indoors)
The advantages of using hydroponics to grow plants are:
- No soil required.
- Easier to grow & manage plants.
- Quicker to grow with higher yields.
- No damage from pesticides.
- Because it’s a controlled system no nutrition pollution will be released into the environment.
- Less water used as it’s a closed system.
In addition many of the ready made systems also include low energy use lighting – so that you will be able to grow herbs & vegetables indoors all year long.
A hydroponic system is very easy to set up at home with most units including very simple and easy to follow instructions.
Typical hydroponic kits are:
2. Aquaponics – what is it & how to use it
Aquaponics is very similar to hydroponics – where you grow your plants only using water.
However the key difference is
- That the water (used to growing your plants) will contain fish.
- So you only have to feed the fish and their excrement will nourish the plants.
The advantages of using aquaponics to grow plants are
1. You will have the same advantages as using hydroponics
- no soil required,
- easier to grow & manage plants, etc.
2. However, in addition:
- Aquaponics can be cheaper to operate as fish feed is often cheaper than the nutrients added to the water in an hydroponic system
- Once well established (after about 6 months) it can produce even faster growth and better yields than hydroponics.
- Easier to get fully organic plants.
- The fish can be very appealing to households (with big or little children)
- Or the fish can even be grow to generate additional income
Typical aquaponic kits are:
3. When to use Hydroponics or Aquaponics
Whether you chose hydroponics or aquaponics a key advantage is that both will get you better results compared to growing your plants in soil.
In addition they will also be easier to manage, and (especially for aquaponics) can look every appealing.
However there are a few key elements you will need to consider:
- Out of the 2 options aquaponics can get you slightly faster crops and better yields.
- In addition aquaponics can have slightly lower operating costs.
- However the initialy costs for an aquaponic system will be more than an hydroponic system.
- It can take at least 6 weeks for an aquaponic system to be ‘stabilized’ and up and running. And much longer for a very large commercial system.
- Even though it’s easier to control nutrients in aquaponics (compared to hydroponics) – there is the additional challenge of having to manage the wellbeing of the fish
It’s due to the above reasons that many commercial growers tend to use hydroponics compared to aquaponics. Although commercial aquaponic systems are growing very fast in some specialised sectors (especially catering).
However, if you want to grow herbs & vegetables at home then an aquaponic system will have great appeal.
Because, in addition to being fun and looking appealing, it can also be used as an educational tool showing the complete supply chain.