Rampant encroachment into productive farmland has forced agriculturists to come up with ways of maximising production despite the limited space available. Additionally, they also have to devise ways in which naturally unproductive soil can be enhanced to assist in growing plants. Hydroponics is an invention that allows farmers to achieve both of these objectives. It is the practice of planting crops in gravel, sand and liquids with suitably added nutrients to enhance their growth. Certainly, choosing the right substrate for your plants is key to their successful growth a hydroponic system. The following are your substrate options for a hydroponic system:
Mineral wool, also referred to as rock wool, is one of the common substrates used in hydroponic systems. Essentially, mineral rock is made by spinning slag, molten rock or basalt into bundled filaments. The filaments are bonded by an adhesive to create a medium capable of capillarity. Capillarity is a process by which water can flow through a medium that has narrow spaces without any resistance from external forces such as gravity. Some of the top benefits of rock wool are that the medium is non-carcinogenic, non-hazardous and efficient conservation of water through capillarity.
Expanded Clay Aggregate
Just as the name suggests, expanded clay aggregate comes in the form of baked clay pellets. They are made by firing pre-made, round pellets of clay at about 1200 degrees Celsius. This results in chemically unreactive pellets with a neutral pH value. They have no nutrient value, meaning that these pellets cannot affect the growth of the plants in the system in any way. On that note, the inert nature of expanded clay aggregate makes it suitable for a hydroponic system with properly balanced nutrients. Once in the water, the clay aggregate expands to become porous and allow controlled flow of the solution in the system.
Rice Husks or Rice Hulls
Rice husks are another alternative you can go for when choosing a substrate for your hydroponic system. No prior preparation is required to ready the husks for the job provided they are dry enough. After introducing them into the system, the husks decay over time and allow water to flow through them. Ideally, you should go for rice husks if you have plants that demand a rate of water flowing through the system per period. This is because rice husks retain very little of the water they encounter, maximising flow in the system.
To learn more about this farming technique, visit a hydroponic shop.