[ Hanafiee Azlee, 24th February 2022 ]
To most of us, agriculture relates to the planting of seeds, harvesting of crops, quality checking for the crops that are growing, or mini garden at home if you have one. However, agriculture governs a huge aspect in the Plantae kingdom, and it is actually one of the first method of survival that was founded by humankind dated ages and ages ago!
Right now, we are exposed to the idea of growing our own crops at home or loan an allotment space at a community garden to grow and nourish the plants that are growing. Community garden used to be huge back then, where people would gather around with their neighbours and harvest the plants they have grown. Now, due to the advancement of technology, urban farming is expanding, globally.
From where I am currently living right now, it is so hard to find a growing space in Singapore due to the restricted space of land that we have. Considering that we are living in a very fast-paced culture, it is only reasonable that spaces are being used up for commercial and business purposes. We definitely could have our own land to do farming if land restrictions don’t come in the way. However, if land farming were to be implemented, this will lead to questioning the manpower we need to properly sustain a farm.
Would anyone work under the burning sun to grow vegetables and fruits? I don’t think so.
The evolution of agriculture has definitely been a blessing to all of us as we can now grow vegetables and other edible greens in an enclosed area, with the proper equipment or commonly known as a hydroponic system. What is a hydroponic system? Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture that involves growing plants, mainly crops, without soil using mineral fertilizer solutions in an aqueous solvent.
There are 6 different types of Hydroponic systems that are up to the agriculture market. Deep Water Culture is a hydroponic growth system that maintains plant roots in a well-oxygenated. Ebb & Flow (Flood & Drain), instead of hanging roots in nutritional solution all of the time, they will be flooded with nutrients on a regular basis, and these nutrients will then drain back into the reservoir, allowing the plant to breathe and
absorb the nutrients, and prepare for the next cycle. Drip Hydroponics, instead of feeding your plants from below, drip hydroponics nourishes them from above. This results in extremely high root zone oxygenation, which, as you may have
guessed, is essential for a good hydroponics grow. Aeroponics, Aeroponics refers to a method of growing plants in which the nutrients are suspended in the air. The roots are subsequently doused in nutritional solution using ultra-fine sprayers aimed at the root zone. Aquaponics is the practice of growing crops in water rather than on land while simultaneously rearing fish. Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), The technique uses a pump to feed fertilized water to the grow tray and a drainpipe to recycle the unused nutrient solution, similar to Ebb and Flow. The distinction is that with NFT, the nutrient solution flows over the roots continually.
Fun fact: Agriculture has been discovered dating back thousands of years. Since at least 105,000 years ago, wild grains have been harvested and consumed. It even dated back during the biblical years where, Cain was the first farmer, and nomadic herders were the first nomadic herders Abel.
So, what can we benefit from using a hydroponic system?
One of the greatest advantages of using a hydroponic system is that despite the fact that hydroponic systems rely on water to grow plants, they use 80 to 90% less water than plants grown in the ground. To provide appropriate moisture to reach the root zone in traditional gardening, a substantial amount of water is applied to the soil. Water evaporates as it moves through the soil, and only a small portion of it reaches the roots. However, in hydroponics, the water enters the roots almost instantly, with negligible evaporation. In many systems, the nutrient solution is recirculated numerous times before becoming worthless and being dumped, increasing water efficiency even more.
Finding space serves no issue as plants can be grown anywhere and everywhere! Unlike traditional gardens, which require outdoor space for plants, hydroponics systems can be easily integrated inside a wide range of residences, independent of size or location. In tally with traditional gardens, fewer pests can be found infesting on the crops growing on the hydroponic system. We can yield fleshy and leafy vegetables upon harvesting from the system!
Of course, it is definitely much expensive to set up a hydroponic system. The cost of a system varies depending on its type and size, as well as whether it's prefabricated or created with individual components to create a custom design. It also requires high maintenance service as the hydroponic system has many intricate parts involved. Hence, it takes a tad bit more of time to inspect and check the functionality of a growing system to ensure that It is running smoothly.
Due to the advancement of technology however, lesser land space is required for us to grow our crops, this means lesser deforestation for agricultural uses and less carbon gases emitted out. Since our climate is in a constant change, due to global warming, growing crops traditionally may affect the health and the quality of the crops, which can be time consuming and money wasting.
The future of the green relies on the hands and legs of technology. Scientists are on a constant search on how we can produce crops and vegetation in adapting to the current climate. It is important for us to act fast to ensure that we are well equipped to face the detrimental effects of the environment