In the early period, the growing medium for hydroponics was used sand and gravel. Fine sand includes little interstitial spaces that can’t hold a lot of air and water. On the other side, gravels can hold a large amount of air and water.
The modern Hydroponics system is soilless these days, so they need some other medium to hold the plant and use it as soil. Plants grow in most media as long as the water, oxygen, and nutrients. Hydroponics does not need soil, so we need some type of medium to hold the plants.
There is the number of the medium in the hydroponics that can help the plant. But while choosing the right medium we need to understand and check the substrate characteristics.
Before learning about the Hydroponics growing medium learn about What is hydroponics
Here are a number of important characteristics for growing medium:
The structure of the subtract must be durable and for at least one or more crops and not break down into small pieces that will impair oxygenation to plants roots.
The substrate does not react with the nutrients solution or release any type of elements in the solution. These can unbalance the level of nutrition and give a negative effect on the plant.
The Substrate for the hydroponics does not contain pest or disease organisms. On the off chance that you are unsure regarding the sterility of the medium. Heat it to 160 ⁰F for half an hour to kill organisms.
The Subtract does not have the property of high or very low water retention. However, acceptable water retention will also be a function of the type of Hydroponics system.
The Subtract must allow the root to spread easily between the particles and anchor the plant as the roots enter the void spaces seeking water.
Availability and cost
For the small business, the cost will be a not important factor, but if you are doing it on a large scale that time cost can make a huge impact on the system.
it is the most suitable medium for hydroponics. Coconut coir is also known as Ultrapeat, Cocopeat, and Coco-tek. Coconut plays an important role in organic farming or in soil-free farming.
The water retention capability in the coconut coir is good. coconut peat combines with perlite to increase air and water retention. It is a completely organic made from shredded coconut husks.
Coconut peat also has the ability to retain nutrients against leaching and to buffer supply. Due to the Slow breakdown of material means the product will not shrink during your growing cycle.
Why Coconut coir?
There are 2 main important factors for the use of Coconut peat:
- coconut coir protects the seed from the Sunlight and salt while floating in the ocean.
- It is a hormone rich and fungus free medium to speed up the germination and rooting upon landfall.
coco peat is free of weed seeds and has a neutral soil pH. Coconut coir or peat the two comes in packed structure, it expands and increments up to 5 or multiple times in volume after it’s reconstituted. Only break off the amount you’re planning to use.
How to use Coconut Coir
- Break it in a small part and throw it in a large bucket. Add enough water in the bucket to saturate the medium.
- Permit the dry coco peat to sit in the water for a little while with the goal that it can turn out to be free and intake the water.
- Mix the coco peat with a tool, following 10-15 minutes, include more water on the off chance that it looks dry. Stop, if it’s loose.
- Mix and cushion again following a couple of moments to ensure every last bit of water is soaked, include more water if it’s not free yet.
Perlite is also a medium used as a medium in hydroponics. It has been around longer than any other soil-free growing medium. it is also an excellent medium for the hydroponics system.
it has several qualities which makes it best for the use as a medium in hydroponics. Perlite is white in color and made of naturally occurring silica rock. It comes in 3 different sizes and uses according to the need.
There are a number of benefits of the Perlite in the Hydroponics system as a medium.
- The main reason to use perlite is to help aerate the environment surrounding plants’ root zones.
- The weight of the Perlite is as light as air, which makes it more suitable for the Hydroponics as a medium.
- Perlite holds the air and creates pockets of oxygen in the soil. These help the root to get proper oxygen and make healthy food.
- Perlite does not hold the water, but it holds the air in pores which helps keep the system oxygenated.
- It is PH neutral, so these will not react with the solution and affect the plant growth.
- It has excellent drainage properties, so it will help in making a proper balance of water in the medium and avoid over watering to roots.
Perlite is not directly used in the hydroponics, because of its small size. It is mixed with another medium like coconut coir and makes an ideal medium for the plants. Perlite and coconut coir both make an ideal medium for the roots.
LICA stands for the Lightweight Expanded clay aggregate. It is an extremely rough growing medium. LICA is also known as clay balls, which is of ball shape and made of clay. It is a superb medium for hydroponics gardening because of its lightweight. For both small and commercial hydroponics setup use clay balls as a medium.
Here are the several benefits, which makes LICA a superb hydroponics medium.
- High pore space – Due to the High Pore space, the solution passes slowly and roots get proper nutrition. This makes it a great option for ebb-and-flow systems and aquaponics media bed systems.
- Some air-holding capacity to keep root zones oxygenated – In the LICA the air holding capacity is more than the other medium like in Perlite, this will help the roots to get proper oxygen.
- Fairly renewable & environment-friendly – As Clay balls are made from the clay then it is fully renewable and does not affect the environment.
- Reusable – Clay balls can be used again and again, so these will help in the making of an affordable hydroponics system.
- Lightweight – Due to its lightweight quality you can easily take out the plant and harvest it without affecting the roots and stem.
These mediums are PH neutral and reusable, making them ideal for the hydroponics systems. While lava have some equivalent characteristics, they ought to never be utilized in the hydroponics medium as a result of the PH change. If your system gets infected with some disease you can sterilize the clay balls and reuse them again.
Rockwool is the most popular medium nowadays. When you look at the number of benefits it has. Rockwool is made from molten rocks and comes in different shapes and sizes. Rockwool is used in the number of hydroponics systems these days because It retains moisture well, so there are fewer chances of underwatering.
Benefits of having Rockwool as a hydroponics medium.
- Rockwool provides great aeration allowing your plants’ root systems to obtain proper levels of oxygen and water.
- It can easily break down in pieces so easily you can adjust the sizes to meet your needs.
Rockwool does not have more benefits as compared to other mediums because it is not natural. It is made from the molten rock made by taking chalk and rock and heating them to three thousand degrees Fahrenheit.
A portion of the World’s biggest Hydroponics nurseries use Rockwool sections to raise various assortments of plants to full development. They use that slab again by steam sterilizing the slabs between crops.
Nowadays people are reducing the use of Rockwool due to their environmental issues. Multiple people find its dust is irritating to the skin.
Learn 5 Different types of Hydroponics system for Home and Commercial use
There are several numbers of mediums available in the market these days and having a number of benefits with them. But in the Hydroponics system, every plant has its own growing nature and requirements.
Before choosing the Medium for the Hydroponics system, first, see which plant are you growing and match the requirements. These will help plants and systems to work smoothly and give you quality food.
No, we can not use Soil as a growing medium in the hydroponics system, because of several reasons. In the Hydroponics system accuracy is the most important part of the system and the PH and PPH of the soil vary, especially if growing plants which prefer a stricter PH range. Soil makes it much easier to over and under-feed particular nutrients because you don’t know exactly what levels of nutrition soil already have and it makes it difficult to measure. So the soil is not the perfect medium for the Hydroponics system.
Yes, Gravel can be used as a growing medium in the hydroponics system. Medium selection depends on the crop or plant. First, you need to check the plant requirement and conditions it needs. Every medium has its own quality and uses. Before using any medium you need to check and get the right information about the plant and medium.
I am Electronics Engineer and working on Startup on Hydroponics. I am doing trials and working on the Hydroponics system last 2 years. Hydroponics is the future of Agriculture. if anyone want to learn about Hydroponics can ask me.