Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Hydroponics, Aquaponics & Aeroponics farming technologies

Kenya’s forest cover has progressively reduced from 10% at independence in 1963 to less than 3% presently. This situation is a result of massive deforestation, particularly for farming without replacing the plants. This has had a huge negative effect on the water towers and subsequently food security. Africa and the entire world are just waking up to the reality of the impacts of climate change. This means there is urgent need to adapt our agriculture practices to climate change, by departing from traditional methods of farming. Hydroponics, Aquaponics and Aeroponics are innovations whose time has come, and they are invaluable for global poverty and hunger alleviation. 

These modern farming systems are advantageous in that they conserve water and minimize use of pesticides on plants. They are also environment friendly and inclined to organic farming and the resulting produce is low in agrochemicals residue, healthy to consume and fetches better prices in the market. These systems are vital for addressing most of the current global challenges of the agriculture industry

The word hydroponics is derived from two Greek words hydro and ponos which means labour. Rather than growing plants in the soil media, hydroponics involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution. In hydroponics the growing medium is a pH adjusted water solution. The plants nutrients dissolved in the water and are absorbed easily by the plants. According to proven research findings, plants roots absorb nutrients easier when dissolved in water than when in the soil. In some cases inert media are used to hold the roots e.g. sand, gravel, perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, coir, coconut husks, sawdust and peatmos .Hydroponics method of farming is economical in that it requires reduced water, reduced fertilizer and pesticides leading to consumer friendly produce with minimal chemical residue levels, which commands better market prices.

Furthermore hydroponics requires minimal space and can be easily practiced in urban areas. Hydroponics system therefore addresses food security by providing  affordable, locally-grown vegetables. For small holders with limited land, the modern system is ideal. Hydroponics system is not only low cost and easy to use, but can be optimized for high yields using minimal resources. Furthermore pests and diseases are easy to control without the use of pesticides, crops are easier to harvest, there’s no nutrients leaching, and the water can be reused.

quaponics is similar to hydroponics the difference being growing of plants is combined with fish farming. The fish’s waste provides rich organic manure to the plants which in turn provides oxygen for the fish, a typical symbiotic relationship. In ancient China and Thailand, the Aztecs are known to have practiced aquaponics farming system whereby rice farming was done alongside fish farming. 

Last but not least aeroponics is growing of plants in the air in which case the roots are suspended in a closed space and sprayed with a nutrient rich solution and then left to grow in no medium.  It saves a lot of water in addition to easy control of pests and diseases. This leads to healthy organic produce.For more information read the following links 

  2. Hydroponics and Plant Nutrients
  3. Shirley Cox