Hydroponics, the growing of plants without soil in a neutral medium using water soluble fertilisers, optimises growth resulting in optimal yields of perfect fruit or vegetables for the farmer.
The world faces a water shortage that grows more acute every year as the population outpaces the country’s ability to provide water. Climate change hasn’t helped matters and the future looks bleak unless drastic measures are introduced to use less water.
Agriculture is by far the greatest water consumer, outpacing even industry, with its constant thirsty demand in order to produce food and the reason for this is not hard to understand. When watering crops farmers use overhead irrigation via pivots to water their fields and water is pumped from streams or dams to do this. 90% of the water flows past the root zones back into the water table leaving another 5% to disappear through evaporation to the air. So, agricultural irrigation is a very uneconomic and inefficient method of applying water.
Hydroponics on the other hand, uses about one third of the water used in agriculture* because the water is constantly recycled, to be used over and over again until after 14 days it is discharged over field grown crops, flowers or lawns. There is also no evaporation to the air because the fertigation systems are all enclosed.
Farmers diversifying into hydroponics are advantageously placed to make early profits as some of the fixed expenses are already being borne by the farm, such as rates and electricity, so delivery to profits from the hydroponic section can go straight on to their bottom line. When blanket water restrictions kick in they will be well placed to weather the drought.
You can learn all about hydroponics, how to do it, what is required, how much it will cost and by how much the profit forecast will affect your bottom line.
*SOURCE: Brandon Merrill, May 9, 2011 University of Arizona