Usually, when we think about gardening or farming, we think of growing food in the ground. However, recently there has been a development of other sustainable farming techniques that mostly depend on water that you could implement in your school or home!
Hydroponics means “growing plants without soil.” A plant only needs water, nutrients and sun for photosynthesis to grow! Therefore, instead of planting the crops in soil, the crops are in a nutrient rich water solution. Usually, there are small pools of nutritious water in which there is a grow tray floating on the top, usually made out of PVC, with holes to place the plants. The important step is to allow the roots to be submerged in the water so the plants receive all of the necessary nutrients. Some benefits of this method of farming include less water usage (about 10% of water required to grow food on land), more efficient use of land and no weeds!
Aeroponics is a type of hydroponics. Instead of putting the crops into water, the plants are misted with nutrient rich water. This system is similarly built to the hydroponics system but has misters all throughout the system. Aeroponics is an extremely efficient system as it delivers nutrients directly to the plant roots and requires less effort than traditional farming techniques but produces more food.
Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture, therefore producing both food and organic produce. The fish waste is upcycled as the plants can use the fish waste for nutrients. In an aquaponics system, there is a connection between the fish tank and grow bed so the water can move throughout the system. This system has very many advantages: for example, aquaponics uses less water than conventional garden systems, vegetables grow extremely fast as they receive a great deal of nutrients from the fish waste, and it provides an alternative use for fish waste.
Have you ever tried any of these alternative ways of growing food?