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Types Of Hydroponics Soil Medium And Their Advantages/Benefits

Types Of Hydroponics Soil Medium And Their Advantages

Gone are the days when we needed to search for the right type of fertile soil to plant our plants and herbs. Hydroponics is a way of growing greens without being reliant on the mess that natural soil makes. With the help of hydroponic horticulture, we can provide the necessary nutrients and more of our plants without the use of any kind of soil dirt. With the help of a hydroponic medium, we can regulate the amount of nutrients that we want to provide in order to get the maximum output out of the plants.

In hydroponic systems, plants are either suspended in the nutrient solution or grown in containers filled with a particular growing medium. To promote optimum growth, the water is regularly recirculated and refilled with the necessary nutrients. Hydroponics is a productive and environmentally friendly method of growing plants because it doesn't require soil, uses less water, and grows plants faster.

Attribute

Soil media

Hydroponic media

Regulate nutrients

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Protection from pests

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✔️

Contaminant free

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✔️

Reduced water requirement

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✔️

Easy pH level measurement

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There are various options for hydroponic mediums, which are mainly categorized into organic and inorganic mediums. They serve the same purpose but have different benefits. They are sterile and can prevent infestations.

A few well-known hydroponic media are listed below for you to choose the best one for you:

  • Coco Peat/Coco Coir - The husks of coconuts are used to make coco peat/coco pith, while the fibers are used to make coco coir. Because it is high in carbon and has a lower tendency to compact than other substrates, coco coir is ideal for plants that require greater drainage and aeration. Similar to coco peat, coco coir is formed from the fibrous interior of a coconut. Plants prefer to use it as a growing medium because it is an organic material that doesn't need to be processed and it is environmentally benign. It also gives new use to a process by-product. Both coco coir and coco peat can be used to improve soil, prevent erosion, or provide a growing environment for plants. 
  • Expanded Clay Pellets - Expanded clay pellets are clay balls that are lightweight and porous, which support plant roots and aid in nutrient and moisture retention. In order to increase aeration and drainage in the growing system, the pellets are heated to a high temperature, which causes them to expand and become light and airy. They outperform the majority of growing media because of their capacity to maintain moisture, support root health, and guard against overwatering and root rot. They are a good option for a variety of plants because they are pH-neutral as well. They are a cost-effective solution for hydroponic producers because they are reusable and can survive for several years with proper care. Expanded Clay Pellets have a low CEC and WHC and a high AFP. 
  • Perlite - White granular substance called perlite is lightweight and is a form of volcanic glass that is frequently used in hydroponic and traditional gardening as a growing medium. It is manufactured by heating volcanic glass until it expands and forms tiny, white, popcorn-like particles. It is a light, porous substance. Perlite is the perfect growing medium for hydroponic systems due to a number of its characteristics. It is safe for growing a range of plants because it has a neutral pH, is physically stable, affordable, is sterile, and does not contain any dangerous chemicals. As succulents and other plants are sensitive to moist soil, perlite can aid compost drainage and water retention. Additionally, it has great water-retention qualities that enable plants to receive continuous moisture, and it offers good aeration that encourages strong root development. Pertile can also be combined with other materials to create compost that is tailored to the needs of the plant being cultivated. 
  • Starter Plugs - Starter plugs often referred to as "propagation plugs," are tiny, spherical blocks of growing material that serve as a foundation for the germination of seeds or the planting of cuttings. A seed or cutting can be inserted into the small hole in the center, and the material around the hole supports and promotes root development. Starter plugs are frequently used in soil-based gardening as well as hydroponic and aeroponic systems. Peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, or a combination of these materials are frequently used as the growing medium in starting plugs because of their capacity to retain moisture and offer healthy aeration to immature plants. Starter plugs can make plant multiplication easier and aid in the more effective establishment of immature seedlings. Starter plugs are inexpensive and frequently used in hydroponic and horticultural setups. 
  • Rockwool - Basalt rock and chalk are melted to create Rockwool. To be utilized as a growing medium, the raw materials are formed into a variety of shapes, such as cubes or slabs, and then spun into fine fibers. Rockwool is renowned for its superior capacity to retain water and its capacity to effectively aerate plant roots. Rockwool is an environmentally beneficial choice because it can be reused, has a pH that is neutral, contains no toxic minerals, and is simple to sanitize in between usage. Many different kinds of plants, such as decorative flowers, herbs, and vegetables, can be grown in Rockwool. It is noted for its breathability, is available in a number of designs and colors, and is rat resistant, all of which make it an ideal option for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. 
  • Growstones - Growstones are created from recycled glass that has been enlarged to make porous, lightweight, and durable Growstones. Because Growstones have more area for both air and water retention than perlite and peat, they can be used as an alternative to other kinds of hydroponic growing media. Growstones' porous nature effectively aerates plant roots while also holding onto moisture. This aids in encouraging strong root development and raising the total output of plants grown in hydroponic systems. Growstones are a secure option for growing edible plants because they are pH-neutral and devoid of any dangerous chemicals. In comparison to certain other kinds of hydroponic growing media, Growstones are more environmentally friendly because they are reusable and simple to disinfect in between usage. 
  • Rice Hulls - Rice hulls, which are easily accessible throughout much of the world, are the outer protective coating of rice grains that are removed during processing in the rice milling business. They frequently serve as a growing medium for hydroponic systems because of their high air porosity and superior water-holding capacity. Additionally pH-neutral and pathogen-free, rice hulls are a safe choice for growing plants, especially culinary crops. Furthermore, rice hulls are a renewable and biodegradable material, making them a green choice for hydroponic farming. They are frequently applied as a soil amendment to strengthen the soil. 
  • Pumice - Another naturally occurring volcanic rock on our list is Pumice, commonly referred to as a "mineraloid," which is lightweight and porous and offers great drainage and aeration to plant roots. Pumice has a high porosity and can retain moisture, which makes it a good hydroponic substrate for growing plants. Pumice is a safe choice for growing edible plants because it has a pH that is neutral and does not contain any dangerous chemicals. In comparison to certain other kinds of hydroponic growing media, it is more environmentally friendly because it is reusable and simple to sterilize between usage. Pumice also has a low CEC (cation exchange capacity), which makes it easier to control the amount of nutrients in the hydroponic solution because it does not retain extra nutrients. 
  • Sand - Due to its inadequate ability to retain water and dearth of nutrients, Sand—despite being widely available and affordable—is not a frequently employed medium. The drainage and aeration that sand offers plant roots are good, but it also dries out rapidly and can be challenging to replenish with water. As a result, sand-based plants may need frequent fertilization and irrigation. Sand is less environmentally beneficial than other types of hydroponic medium since it is heavy and cannot be recycled. Sand can be utilized in specific hydroponic applications, such as the nutrient film technique (NFT), which involves continuously flowing a thin layer of nutrient-rich water over plant roots. It can be used either on its own or in a custom media blend made up of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. For hydroponic systems, coarse sand, like builder's sand, is preferable. 
  • Gravel - Similar to sand, gravel gives plant roots strong drainage and aeration, allowing more water and air to flow freely. This can assist avoid root rot and other problems brought on by growing media that don't drain well. Gravel is also not a great choice for holding onto nutrients and water. Gravel's huge particle size makes it difficult for roots to acquire water and nutrients by penetrating the soil. For these reasons, gravel is not a medium that is frequently used in hydroponic systems, but it might be appropriate for some uses, such as deep water culture (DWC) systems where plants are suspended in a nutrient-rich solution or used to support the root system of plants, give the roots oxygen, and hold moisture for the plants. 
  • Wood Fiber - Wood fibre, commonly referred to as shavings or chips of wood, is a plentiful, renewable resource that is also reasonably priced. It is suitable for use both alone and in conjunction with other growing materials. Plant roots benefit from the good aeration and water-holding capacity provided by wood fiber, which helps to maintain roots' health and hydration. It also has a pH of 7, so it won't interfere with the hydroponic system's nutrient balance. However, it is well known that with time, wood fiber can degrade, which can lead to clogging and other problems in the hydroponic system. Growers can reduce this by using wood fiber that has been sterilized or treated because it is less likely to contain germs that cause disease. Despite these drawbacks, wood fiber is still a preferred material for hydroponic gardeners, particularly for those who place a high value on sustainability and environmental friendliness. 
  • Brick Shards - Bricks are broken down into tiny bits and utilised as a drainage layer in hydroponic systems to create brick shards. They offer adequate aeration and make it simple for water to circulate, which is crucial for the health of the roots. The porous shards offer hydroponic systems with a supporting structure on which to grow plants. As they might be heavy and may change the pH of the nutrient solution, they are not advised as the only growing medium. 
  • Polystyrene Packing Peanuts - Small, airy beads known as polystyrene packing peanuts are created from the plastic substance polystyrene. To safeguard fragile objects during shipment and packaging, they are frequently utilised as filler material. Because they are light, buoyant, and porous, polystyrene packing peanuts can be utilised as a growth substrate for plants in hydroponics. They work well for aerating and supporting plant roots in hydroponic systems, but because they do not hold water effectively, it is necessary to maintain a steady flow of nutrient-rich water. Many hydroponic growers choose more environmentally friendly growing media alternatives since polystyrene packing peanuts are not only difficult to dispose of but also have negative environmental effects. 
  • Vermiculite - The natural mineral Vermiculite is frequently used in horticulture to enhance the quality of the soil or hasten the growth of root cuttings. It is an excellent choice for hydroponic systems that must maintain a steady supply of water and nutrients to the plant roots because it can absorb up to three to four times its own weight in water. Vermiculite is a popular option for hydroponic gardeners since it is also pH neutral, does not compact with time, and does not host hazardous bacteria or fungi. Prior to using vermiculite in your hydroponic system, it's crucial to carefully rinse the material because it can be pricey and may contain heavy metals and other contaminants. You should also pick a reputed brand.
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