Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics – A Full Guide

Introduction: Helle gardeners, today we discuss the topic of Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics. Whether you plan to initiate a new soil-less garden or just wish to modernize and advance how you grow plants, you will have to to pick the right cultivation system.

And in many instances, this means making a choice between hydroponics and aeroponics.Aeroponics and hydroponics are two techniques that many gardeners and innovative farmers are always talking about as they are the modern efficient way of growing plants without soil.

While they might have similarities, but they are different methods of soil-less cultivation based on different working principle.

When it comes to their application or when you have to pick between them, things can be a little confusing. And this is additionally more so for those that do not have an inspiration of how the two function and what sets them apart.

A step by guide to Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics

Aeroponics and hydroponics, the two famed methods of growing plants without the use of soil, are based on the fact that soil is only a medium, which holds together the nutrients required for the plant growth, and not a prerequisite in itself. When it comes to actual application though, it can get puzzling at times, especially if you don’t have proper idea about how the two work, or which of the two have an edge over the other.

Hydroponic and Aeroponic System.
Hydroponic and Aeroponic System.

Both aeroponics and hydroponics differ from the term ‘geoponics’, i.e., growing plants using soil, as the required nutrients are absorbed by plants through their roots after the nutrients get dissolved in water. As water is used as the medium in both the cases, aeroponics is sometimes considered a type of hydroponics. A closer look, however, and you will realize that the two are entirely different. Both of the methods have their own advantages and disadvantages, which have to be taken into consideration when deciding which is better out of the two.

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Hydroponics is the older and used of the two methods of cultivating without soil and also the most popular option.  It has been evolving as modern method of farming in the last few decades and there are now various variations including aeroponics.

In hydroponics, you eliminate use of soil and replace it with another inert growth medium for the plants to grow in and doing this ensures more efficient supply of nutrients and also minimizes the risk of diseases.

Though there are now many options for the growth medium that you can use to grow plants in hydroponics, the most used ones are perlite, coconut husks, rock wool pebbles, and gravel.

When using hydroponics, the plants will obtain the nutrients that they require from the water which is typically a nutrient-rich solution consisting of various ingredients which are easily available in stores.

And this is special from aeroponics where there is no medium and instead the nutrients have to be sprayed directly to the developing roots.

With this setup, you have to buy the nutrient-rich solution and its formulation will depend on the type of plants that you want to cultivate. But, mixing it up should not be a trouble as most come with clear instructions.And moreover from the soil replacement medium and solutions, hydroponics also requires a variety of other things such as reservoir pump, delivery pipes, timer and of course a reservoir and grow tray.

Most of the items that you use for hydroponics are also necessary for aeroponics, but the setup is different since the later does not require a growth medium.

Like aeroponics, hydroponics will rely heavily on electricity and so you also need to have a power back up when setting up the system. And this is one of the factors that make soil-less methods of planting relatively expensive. 

Pros of Hydroponics when compared with Aeroponics
Water efficient. Almost all modern types of hydroponics will recycle water to minimize waste which makes this a highly water-efficient method of plant cultivation. Hydroponic systems will use less than 10 percent of the water that you would use for conventional soil farming.

More nutrition supply control. Hydroponics makes it possible to manage the amount of nutrients that your plants get and when. Hence, you will have more control over the growth process and you can easily influence factors like the speed of growth and size of the plants.

Relatively affordable. Although hydroponics is still quite an expensive method of farming it is relatively less costly than aeroponics. The initial investment that you need to make to set up hydroponics will be less than what you need for the same size aeroponics as it is a more complicated cultivation system.

Cons of Hydroponics when compared with Aeroponics

Quick spread of disease. The utmost shortcoming of hydroponics is the fact that diseases can spread quickly. Since the plants distribute the same solution and reservoir it is effortless for water-borne diseases to spread. With an aeroponics system, this cannot happen as each plant gets its own spray of nutrients and it never comes into contact with others as the roots are not submerged in anything.

Poor root aeration. Since the roots are submerged in hydroponics there is no facility of  proper aeration. In aeroponics, the roots are suspended in the air and so the plant is capable to absorb more oxygen.

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Plant growth in Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics

If we assess aeroponics and hydroponics  technique in provisions of plant growth or crop yield, aeroponics has a definite preference over the latter technique. In hydroponics, the roots are not subjected to appropriate aeration as they are submerged in the water. In aeroponics though, the roots are suspended in air, which helps the plant absorb oxygen more readily. If the experts are to be believed, it is the aeration factor that contributes to appropriate growth and resultant enhanced produce in aeroponics. 

Plant health 

In case of diseases to the growing plants, aeroponics again has an advantage mainly due to two important factors. Firstly, aeroponics is carried out in an enclosed environment where the probability of plants coming in contact with foreign particles are minimal. Secondly, fresh nutrient solution is sprayed on the plants every time. In case of hydroponics, there is a considerable risk of bacterial growth as the humidity levels in the surroundings are fairly high.

Impact on the Environment 

As for being environment friendly, both of the techniques are beneficial over geoponics or conventional gardening as they do not encourage the use of chemicals fertilizers and pesticides. Though, experienced growers and experts often advise that aeroponics has a slight advantage over the hydroponics technique, considering the feature that it utilizes comparatively less amount of water and requires only about 25 percent of the nutrient delivery compared to its counterpart.

Initial Investment in Hydroponics Vs Aeroponics

As far as the initial investment is concerned, the set up cost for both the methods is fairly high. Unlike in case of hydroponics, wherein water acts as the medium, there is no medium as such in aeroponics. As a result of this, aeroponics is completely dependent on the machinery. If the machinery fails to work well, it affects the health of plants. Without these nutrients, the plants won’t be able to survive for more than a few hours. This makes provisional backup is a must for aeroponics, which in turn, adds to the initial investment and gives hydroponics a preference.

While aeroponics does come across as a costlier alternative as far as the initial investment is concerned, it beats hydroponics hands down in the overall fight.

Choosing aeroponics over hydroponics comes across as a case of spending more for better facilities (which is absolutely justified). Irrespective of which of the two is superior, there is no questioning the fact that the introduction of these cultivation systems has proven as a blessing in disguise with soil degradation and for the  people interested in gardening  living in flats and urban areas.

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