Science and technology have revolutionized every field of life; horticulture is no exception. Modern-day practices look much different as compared to their older counterparts. Therefore, it is completely understandable if you are confused between various types of plant culture techniques. The two main types of plant cultivation techniques nowadays are hydroponics and aeroponics. Both of these techniques are state-of-the-art and offer healthy plant growth. But there are some critical differences between the two that everyone should know. Here is a comprehensive guide that takes you through the major differences between these two techniques.
Differences in growing medium
Growing medium refers to the material which provides nutrition and mechanical support to a plant. Both hydroponics and aeroponic systems lack the traditional growing medium of soil. Instead, modern horticulturists have adopted new and improved growing mediums that cater to the growth of young plants. In hydroponics, the growing medium is a nutrient-rich water solution. The solution can be made using a variety of raw materials, from coco peat and Rockwool to clay pellet and rice hulls- you have ample options to choose from. Choosing the right growing medium (also known as growing substrate) is important.
The right hydroponic medium would foster the healthy growth of your plants and will ensure that the plant receives an adequate supply of nutrients and minerals. If you cannot decide on any growing medium for your hydroponic plants, then Hydrocon 5L would be an ideal place to start. It has an asymmetric porous shape which ensures that the plants receive the mechanical support and surface area for root structure to develop. Click here for more information on Hydrocon 5L.
Aeroponics is one of the latest hydroponic culture techniques characterized by a complete lack of growing medium. In aeroponic systems, the roots of the plants extend in air and are devoid of any substrate. The roots simply hang in the air, and the nutrients are provided to them via a spray of nutrient-rich solution. In a typical setting, the plants are suspended in air using some plastic support with a nutrient spraying system underneath. This results in a humid and foggy environment where the plants are sprayed with misters at regular intervals. If you are looking for a cost-effective spray system, then Dewey Master Engine Mister is a good choice. This 100% air-powered is a simple yet highly useful mister that does not require a traditional water pump and therefore rarely clogs. For more information on this product, you can visit the Dewey mister website.
Differences in set up
Another major difference between the two techniques is the way both of these systems are set up. Aeroponics requires an extensive setup and is often expensive. Even though it is one of the most up-to-date and profitable techniques that offers high-yield plants, you’d have to put in some extra dollars to get your aeroponics garden up and running. Although profitable in the long run, the initial costs can be too high for some novice gardeners to bear. For an aeroponic system, you will require many tools such as misters and air pumps. These tools ensure the timely provision of a water-nutrient solution to the plants and are necessary for the working of an aeroponic system.
As for hydroponics, it is a relatively inexpensive method of growing young plants. Anyone with simple know-how of gardening can grow his own hydroponic system. Furthermore, they do not require laborious maintenance and are more resistant to aberrant weather changes. The plants are arranged in PVC growing tubes, with a nutrient tank underneath. Hydroponics is set up in a more commodious area, and the systems are typically grown outdoors. In contrast, an aeroponic system can be grown in less space but requires more care and maintenance.
Whether it be an aeroponic system or a hydroponic one, you will need grow lights to meet the light requirements. Depending upon the size of your plants, you can choose from a variety of grow lights. LED grow lights are an inexpensive and highly efficient source of light for young plants. Since you will have to keep these lights on for at least 12-14 hours per day, we would suggest you to go for an energy-efficient and cost-effective light source.
Differences in location
Aeroponic systems are grown indoors, mainly because the plants are cultivated without a growing medium and are more susceptible to external weather fluctuations. The humidity, temperature, and overall weather need to be actively maintained in aeroponic systems. In modern aeroponic techniques, high-pressure atomization is used- where a liquid solution under high pressure is forced through a small opening, converting the liquid into tiny droplets that provide nutrients to the exposed roots.
On the other hand, hydroponics can be grown both indoors and outdoors. The growing medium is not as susceptible to weather anomalies, and certain tools such as nutrient tanks, grow lights, and hydroponic tank can be acquired easily. The pH of the system needs to be maintained at a suitable level, and it can be done easily using a pH buffer.
Advantages of hydroponics over aeroponics
Cost-effective and easy to install
Hydroponic systems can be installed without any technical expertise. The majority of novice gardeners can even set up a hydroponic tank using DIY methods. The PVC pipes can be either bought from your nearby nursery, or they can even be made at home. Although it will cover a larger area as compared to an aeroponic system, it can be easily managed. The equipment required to set up a hydroponic system is easily available, making this set up more cost-effective than its competitors.
Plants can be grown anywhere
Hydroponic systems can be grown both indoors and outdoors and are more adaptable to climate aberrations. This gives us more control over the time of cultivation and crop size. Depending upon the available space, we can grow either a large or a small crop over an extended period.
Less Water consumption and recycling
As compared to traditional gardening practices, hydroponic techniques can save over 80% of the water. This makes this technique a perfect method to grow plants in areas where water is scarce. Although aeroponic techniques consume even less water than this, the water used in hydroponic systems can be recycled. This provides a unique advantage to the hydroponic systems over others.
No addition of harmful chemicals
Since the hydroponic system does not employ soil as a growing medium, all chemicals that are added to regular plants for restricting soil erosion are not required. Additionally, they do not require any pesticides- since no insects can thrive in the artificial growing medium. If there is any unwanted pest growth, you can simply use any liquid pesticide such as microbial to help counter their growth. Only useful nutrients are added in the growing medium that fosters the plants’ growth and does not incur any harmful effects.
Advantages of aeroponics over hydroponics
Faster and healthier plant growth
Plants grown via aeroponics show rapid and healthy growth. Since the root structure is exposed, any problem in their development can be easily diagnosed and countered in due time. The nutrient solution is regularly sprayed on the exposed roots, allowing them to bloom in no time. Usually, the plants are grown vertically, thereby saving up on precious space. While in air, the plants have better access to humidity and oxygen that enhances their development.
Fewer pest problems
Since aeroponic systems are grown in a controlled environment, pest is the last thing you should worry about. All insects and pests require certain growing conditions- all of which are absent in any modern aeroponic system, diminishing the chances of pest growth. All these conditions make aeroponics one of the best techniques to grow plants.
Aeroponic gardens are known to consume only 5% of the water required for the growth of a traditional garden. Their eco-friendly reputation is seconded by their ability to store and grow a large number of food crops in low space. There is less variability and problems in the controlled environment necessary for aeroponic systems, leading to lesser wastes.
Less space needed
Aeroponics allows plants to be stacked on top of each other. In other words, plants can be grown vertically- this allows a large number of aeroponic systems to be set up over a small area. You can easily set up a system for yourself if you are restricted by a lack of space. This is a great advantage for those who want efficient and quick plant growth in cramped spaces.
Both hydroponic and aeroponic systems produce healthy crops. If you are a novice gardener looking to start your own garden, then a hydroponic system would be a good place to start. On the other hand, if you are an experienced gardener aiming to grow a large number of vegetables or fruits in a short time, aeroponics would be your best bet.