With a large portion of the world’s farmland shrinking, and food shortages affecting countries all over the world, newer farming methods like aeroponics and hydroponics allow crops to be grown where traditional farming cannot. As these alternative farming systems increase in popularity, more misconceptions arise about the design, environmental impact, and the overall health of the plants grown using aeroponics and hydroponics.
This list will compare and contrast the differences between the two methods, and show how aeroponic and hydroponic farming technology can be used to grow some of the tastiest, healthiest, and greatest greens on the planet!
Aero Vs Hydro
Many people often confuse aeroponic farming with hydroponics, another form of farming that has gained plenty of popularity over recent years. While both methods are similar in that they don’t require soil, the way nutrients are delivered to plants is much different. In hydroponics, plants may be suspended in water full-time or fed by an intermittent flow of water. Aeroponic plants are never placed into water, instead being given nutrients from a mist that’s sprayed onto their roots.
This key difference is what gives each method their unique name. The term ‘Aeroponics’ stems from the Greek word aero, meaning air, and ponos, meaning work. Hydroponics on the other hand, uses the Greek term hydro, meaning water, and is translated to the term ‘‘working water’!
Another major distinction between Aeroponics and Hydroponics lies in the design and methodology of the farming setup.
Aeroponic farms are completely controlled and enclosed environments, with crops growing suspended in air. The plants are contained in a humid atmosphere where frequent misting delivers a nutrient rich solution right to the roots, keeping the crop from drying out. Because the entire process is enclosed, the mist is able to remain around the plants for longer, helping them grow much quicker than in a traditional outdoor farm.
Hydroponic farming also utilizes nutrient-rich water, but the process of delivering these nutrients is different. Instead of spraying the solution on to the roots, the plants are either grown in containers of nutrient solution, or the solution is circulated past the roots.
Plant Growth and Health
As far as the overall health of the plant goes, aeroponics takes a slight advantage. These crops grow in a completely sealed and protected environment, meaning there is a very small chance that the roots will be exposed to foreign objects and bacteria. Hydroponic plants on the other hand, are at a much greater risk of bacterial exposure, due to the high humidity levels in their growing environment.
Another important aspect that contributes to a plant’s health is the aeration, or the amount of oxygen the plant receives while growing. During aeroponic growing the plant’s roots are completely suspended for the entire growing process, allowing them to take in air at a much greater rate. In hydroponics, the roots are submerged and do not receive nearly as much oxygen, contributing to a generally smaller plant and crop yield.
The Environmental Impact
Both aeroponics and hydroponics are regarded to be less harsh on the earth than traditional ‘geoponic’ farming, with neither requiring the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. However, there are some differences in the number of resources used between both systems. Hydroponics requires much larger quantities of water to operate, as well as four times the amount of nutrients needed to grow a plant using the aeroponics method.
Because of this, aeroponics has been developed to compete with the problems that arise from climate change, diminishing farmland, and the building of large housing and urban centers. It uses 98% less land than traditional farming methods, 95% less water, and is 100% controlled, allowing for crops to be grown year-round using fewer resources.
Living Greens Farm & The Future of Aeroponics
Living Greens Farms started with a simple goal to build a sustainable, next generation farm, and has now expanded into the largest vertical-plane, indoor aeroponic farm in the world! Follow our journey as we look to expand into other areas of the country, where we can make a difference in communities that have little access to fresh produce. Changing the world for the better starts with one person, one bite and one Living Greens salad at a time.
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