Hydroponics: a technique to feed balance nutrition
A subsection of hydro culture in which plants are grown without inert medium or an aquatic based environment. This culture uses especially formulated some compatible mixtures of mineral nutrients in a solution form in order to provide balance nutrition.
Hydroponics or aqua culture is greatly accompanied to identify the deficiency symptoms of any essential nutrient. The scientists around the world are mainly focusing on to use this technique for experiment purposes only. But this is very reliable technique to feed balance and hygienic food to a distinct proportion of the world population.
It is said that, first time, in 1627 Francis Bacon wrote a book on growing terrestrial plants without soil. After that research on water culture technique became a popular topic for researchers and scientists. In 1699 John Woodward published his experiments on water culture. In the earliest time, Hydroponics was a necessity on Wake Island to grow vegetables, as there was no soil.
Today farmers are moving slowly towards hydroponics and researchers are looking more closely that how it could solve future food problems. Recently, In USA growers prepare hydroponics farm in 40-foot container and they claim that from this container they can grow organic food as much food as could be grown on three to five acres by using 97% less water and zero pesticide or herbicides
It is not possible to feed balance nutrition to 7.5 billion people of the world from agriculture. Because our agro-ecosystems are the most prunes to climate variability and climate change. Their production is totally at the stake of environment.
The changing and the most variable environment is not only reducing the production but also deteriorating the quality of produce. So, there should be some climate-resilient alternatives. One of the best solutions is hydroponic which is climate-resilient culture as well as produced food with balance nutrition.
The promotion of this technique in future will be a cutting edge to combat climate change by introducing such alternatives.
In Pakistan, aquaculture trend is not common among farming communities. Some scientists here are applying these techniques just to test effect of deficient mineral on plant growth, development and final outputs. However, adopting this technology at famer scale would definitely eradicate the malnutrition problems from the country.
Pros and cons
- Under controlled environment, plants can grow faster and produce larger yields
- Hydroponics is an eco-friendly system because it is pesticides, leaching and eutrophication free culture
- This system can be adopted at any scale
- This culture can be established near consumer to avoid transportation of the produce
- A high value with full nutrition can be grown
- The initial inputs are costly which may cause hindrance in its manipulation
- In Pakistan, due to energy crises this system will need some extra cost to overcome these crises
- This system needs carefully monitoring that might be automated
- The skillful manpower is mandatory to run this system smoothly
- Almost 125000 hectare area is used under green house hydroponics in overall the world.
- In 2017, Canada had constructed large commercial green houses on hundreds of acres to produce tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.
- At the end of 20th century American Hydroponics had been started to provide people with cutting edge hydroponic gardening and farming equipment to produce organic food.
- In Pakistan many scientists and farmers are working in Faisalabad and Rawalpindi to promote green house hydroponics.
- A project is preparing on hydroponics in a joint effort with Institute of space technology at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi (PMAS-AARU).
Hydroponics and crops
The vast majority of crops are still grown using soil, but hydroponics is on the rise. Theoretically, hydroponics can be used to grow all crops. However the technique is used with plants that grow efficiently under hydroponic conditions, such as salad greens, cucumbers, peppers, herbs and most commonly used to grow tomatoes.
Disease-resistance varieties are popular as they enable plants to survive for longer and produce more yields. Crops that are genetically not suited for hydroponics are avoided such as wheat.
To eradicate the malnutrition problem form the country, the practices of aqua culture at large scale is need of the hour. In this context, the following steps should be taken by Govt. of Pakistan;
- Manipulate this culture at farmers level on subsidies bases
- Create the maximum awareness among masses by exploring its potential merits
- Develop capacity of stakeholders including academia, researchers, extensionists and farmers
- Demonstrate this technology at farmer level
- Provide crop insurance to the farmers
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