When the gardener does not have adequate space to grow plants in their backyard but they have a keen interest in growing vegetables, they have a few other options – Aquaponics and hydroponics. Each technique has its pros and cons. Here are the differences along with the pros and cons of each system.
Similarities between aquaponics and hydroponics
Aquaponics is the combination of hydroponics with aquaculture so they have similarities among them.
Prolonged growing period
Most hydroponics and aquaponics setups are established indoors, shielded from the natural climate, and have supplemental lights for growing. It is feasible to grow plants for a longer season outside of their normal season. This allows hydroponic and aquaponic growers to produce wholesome produce year-round.
Protection from pests
The plants that typically grow under controlled conditions have a far lower incidence of pest attacks. This lower stress may additionally be a direct result of a contained device that can not be infested because of wind or by soil switch migration of pests. They protect the growing material from weeds because weed seed is not dispensed via birds or moved from garden material to backyard beds on the wind or through gardening tools. Lower pest and weed pressure suggest fewer chemical applications that could have terrible environmental impacts.
Efficient use of water
Even though some plants are grown directly in water in both sorts of systems, they use less water than standard gardening due to the fact the aquatic solutions are recirculated and reused. An aquaponics system uses about 10 percent of the water used in soil-based gardening.
Increased growth rate
A plant grown in a soilless system develops 30 to 50 percent faster than those sown directly into the soil. This soilless system provides all the essential micro and macronutrients. The growth rate improves due to the presence of additional nutrients with all essential abiotic factors because the energy saved is often put towards faster growth.
On average, a plant grown in the soilless system yields approximately 30 to 40 percent more compared to a normal growing method. This is partly from the cautious monitoring of nutrients inside the aquatic medium that guarantees plants are receiving top of the line levels of food. There is also a diminished stage of sickness and bug pressure and finely tuned developing conditions.
Differences between both systems
Along with similarities, there are also some differences between the systems.
Components of the system
First and foremost are the components used in both systems. The hydroponics system usually utilizes a 6-inch deep bed so roots unfold easily, while the aquaponics system requires a 12-inch deep bed due to the rearing of fish along with the plants.
Sterility of medium
Hydroponics structures are very sterile and there is no need for any extraneous developing media to aid the flora or root system. Aquaponics on the opposite hand needs an environment around the roots to harbor helpful microorganisms. Hydroponics doesn’t require deep rearing media to assist the plant and roots. Some hydroponic systems don’t use any developing materials.
Cost of setup
The main distinction is the cost of buying fish to stock the aquaponics beds. The price of fish varies based on what variety you choose to grow and how many you may also need.
Running of the system
After establishing a hydroponic system, it is necessary to let the nutrient solution cycle for a few days at the most to stabilize before adding plants. Aquaponics systems are slower to induce up and become functional due to the fish. At a minimum, it takes a month to develop the nitrifying bacteria needed to interrupt the fish waste. Most systems can take upwards of three months to stabilize the environment enough to introduce plants.
Hydroponics need fertilizers throughout the season to replenish the nutrient solution. Aquaponics features a greater electricity cost because the machine requires a higher degree of oxygen within the water to help the fish.
Pros of aquaponics
Here are the pros of the aquaponics system.
Many upstart farmers have determined aquaponics to be an interesting advertising tool. Having live fish brings in an exciting factor that pulls in customers and parades lots of promoting opportunities.
One of the most compelling arguments for aquaponics is that it is profitable with just a few fish. Most aquaponics growers use aquaponics as a development approach partly due to the delight they find in growing fish. Not only it is exciting for the grower, but it also provides activities like excursions and academic programs for those who want to see the process.
The grower doesn’t rely on fish sales for income, but aquaponics systems can supplement your family dining table with aquaponics fish like tilapia and catfish that create delicious entrees.
Cons of aquaponics
There are certain challenges to aquaponics.
Complicated in a building
The addition of fish tanks requires that plumbing systems must be split and greater space needs to be set aside as a part of the operation. This system requires 450 extra square feet since the media beds are situated right above the tank. These might also require additional special space requirements. A second machine run in our greenhouse used two halves of an IBC to constitute a tank and a media bed, one over the opposite.
To make the wholesome microbial communities crucial for nutrient cycling, aquaponics structures need a fish cycling time of a minimum of 6 weeks prior to planting. After those 6 weeks and for up to 18 months, aquaponics structures will see depressed manufacturing while microbial populations stabilize. Once the system is ready, aquaponics growers can expect top-notch yields over hydroponic systems.
Pros of hydroponics
There are certain pros of hydroponics.
Depending on size, the management and cost of hydroponic manufacturing tend to be steadier and more predictable. This results in monetary stability and might also make accounting and ordering a lot simpler in business. Hydroponic nutrients are formulated and do not vary from month to month. The quantity of fertilizer used will be estimated inside a narrow range over the food and supplements of aquaponics.
Simple to run
Another advantage of hydroponics is simple training processes. Since the use of the best hydroponic systems is fairly consistent and troubleshooting is restricted, managers can formulate their training fairly easily.
Cons of hydroponics
There are certain cons of hydroponics.
Hard to get certified organic
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) are easier with hydroponics. Other styles of certification favor aquaponics producers. Organic hydroponics, with its use of a nutrient solution, is no longer seen as a trustworthy candidate for organic certification. The grower who needs to be certified should understand that some organic hydroponics fertilizer preferences might help.
Hopefully, through this article, you get a complete understanding of the differences between both systems to make it easier for you to select a soilless medium for the cultivation of plants according to your needs.
Robert Davis, the owner of Growfoodguide.com, is passionate about all that has to do with growing your own organic vegetables.