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What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil in a water based, nutrient rich solution. 

There are many types of hydroponic system designs- the basic idea behind them all is to allow the plants roots to come in direct contact with the nutrient solution, while also having access to oxygen, which is essential for proper growth.

Instead of soil the root system is supported using an inert medium such as perlite, rockwool, clay pellets, peat moss, vermiculite, even plastic mesh. 

Hydroponics today go hand in hand with container farming systems facility and vertical farms. With the limited water and space requirements, hydroponics are increasingly a big part of the growing trend for shipping container farms. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a small hydroponic farm for sale, Amazon or a local nursery may have something compact enough for a handbag! In either case, whether your an individual trying out hydroponics in your greenhouse or grow box or if you're an investor looking at a hydroponic farm franchise, this handy guide gives an overview of hydroponic systems used everywhere.

Indoor Farming System

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Types of Hydroponic Systems

There are many different types of indoor hydroponics systems available ranging from small grow box to full blown automated hydroponic grow container farm. There are multiple techniques you can use to get the nutrient solution to your plants and some of the best hydroponic systems on the market combine different types of hydroponics into one hybrid hydroponic system. 

Deepwater Culture

The Deepwater Culture (DWC)  is the easiest method for growing plants with hydroponics. In a Deepwater Culture hydroponic system, the roots are suspended in a nutrient solution. An aquarium air pump oxygenates the nutrient solution, this keeps the roots of the plants from drowning. Light is carefully controlled to prevent algae which can wreak havoc on your system.

DWC is an excellent choice for organic hydroponics, as hydroponics systems that use organic nutrients are more prone to clogs.

Nutrient Film Technique

Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, is a type of hydroponic system where a continuous flow of nutrient solution runs over the plants roots. This type of setup is on a slight angle so that the nutrient solution flows with gravity

This type of system works well because the roots of a plant absorb more oxygen from the air than from the nutrient solution itself. Since only the tips of the roots come in contact with the nutrient solution, the plant is able to get more oxygen which facilitates a faster rate of growth.

Aeroponics Systems

Aeroponics is a method by which the roots are sprayed with a liquid nutrient solution while suspended in the air. You can either use fine spray nozzle to mist the roots or use what’s called a pond fogger. This literally creates a fog- a thick cold mist of nutrients for the plants, like a rainforest canopy. With environmentally controlled hydroponic grow containers this can be a viable solution.

Aeroponics were originally developed for space travel where standing or flowing liquid won’t work, but they can easily be adapted to a hydroponic grow trailer.

Wicking Systems

Wicking is one of the easiest and cheapest methods of hydroponics. The idea behind wicking is that you have a material, such as cotton, that is surrounded by a growing medium with one end of the wick material placed in the nutrient solution. The solution is then wicked to the roots of the plant.

It’s even possible to  remove the wick material all together and just using a medium that has the ability to wick nutrients to the roots. This works by suspending the bottom of your medium directly in the solution. This system is often used for hydroponic microgreens.

Ebb & Flow Systems

An ebb & flow hydroponics system, also known as a flood and drain system, is a great system for growing plants with hydroponics. This type of system functions by flooding the growing area with the nutrient solution at specific intervals. The nutrient solution then slowly drains back into the reservoir. The pump is connected to a timer, so the process repeats itself at specific intervals so that your plants get the desired amount of nutrients.

This system is perfect for plants that are used to periods of dryness or which don’t need 24/7 nutrition;  cucumbers, beans and tomatoes are ideal. It can be more labor intensive but the automation of using hydroponics in shipping containers can relieve some of the pressure on the farmer.

What are the Advantages of Hydroponics?

The biggest advantage of growing in a hydroponic container is a greatly increased rate of growth in your plants. With the proper setup, hydroponic container gardening plants will mature up to 25% faster and produce up to 30% more than the same plants grown in soil. See more about the hydroponics growing results in Micro Labs here.

Your plants will grow bigger and faster because they will not have to work as hard to obtain nutrients. Even a small root system will provide the plant exactly what it needs, so the plant will focus more on growing above ground instead of expanding the root system below ground. A complete indoor hydroponic grow system will easily meet your needs.

All of this is possible through careful control of your nutrient solution and pH levels. A hydroponic system will also use less water than soil based plants because the system is enclosed, which results in less evaporation. And finally, hydroponics is better for the environment because it reduces waste and pollution from soil runoff. 

The Disadvantages of Hydroponics

The biggest factor for most people is that a quality hydroponics system of any size will have a bigger upfront cost than its soil counterpart.

A large scale hydroponics system can take a lot of time to setup if you aren’t the most experienced grower. Plus, managing your hydroponics system will take a lot of time as well. You will have to monitor and balance your pH and nutrient levels on a daily basis. Modern container farms and vertical farming systems have automated environmental controls which address many of these concerns. Many hydroponic shipping containers can even be managed via a cellphone app.

Micro Lab Farms - Hydroponics Growing System in Shipping Container

The greatest risk with a hydroponics growing facility is of mechanical failure - a pump breakdown can kill off your plants within hours depending on the size of your system. Soil stores water, but growing medium usually needs some flow and are therefore dependent on small pumps.

Why Choose Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is an excellent choice for all types of growers because it gives you the ability to finely control the variables that affect how well your plants grow. A good  hydroponic system can easily surpass a soil based system in plant quality and amount of produce yielded- wether its just a simple hydroponic grow box or a full scale shipping containers with hydroponic vertical farming systems

It may seem frightening at first with all the equipment and set up involved, but keep it simple, and your hydroponic system will always deliver! Rest assured that Micro Lab Farms are expert shipping container manufacturers that are skilled and experience on setting up indoor growing facility to support your crop production.

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Micro Lab Farms

3353 Needles Hwy

Needles, CA

(951) 266-6096