The Future of Farming: Hydroponics
In 2015, the United Nations had predicted that the global population will rise to about 9.6 Billion by 2050 and that around 70 percent of the population will live in the cities. The challenge associated with such an increase is the need to produce more food to sustain them. With approximately 80 percent of the cultivable land already under intensive use and at the same time global demand for food on a continuous upward trajectory, the industrialized food production techniques that did wonders for the most part of the 20th century has started to show cracks in the supply-demand equilibrium.
In addition to that, highly industrialized modern farming techniques are a major threat to the environment as it creates a lot of waste polluting the environment in the process and puts a lot of strain on the existing natural resources.
For a more sustainable future of farming – one viable solution is the adoption of Hydroponic technology.
Hydroponic technology is a unique method of food production that allows producers to grow plants without the use of any soil. To understand the concept of Hydroponics, one needs to give some attention to the process of photosynthesis. In the process of photosynthesis, plants use sunlight and chemicals present inside their leaves to generate chlorophyll to convert Carbon Dioxide. There’s no mention of soil in the equation of photosynthesis. Soil merely acts as the medium that supports the plant. However, the same process of photosynthesis can be done somewhere else as long as the plants have a medium to support their growth. This is the idea behind Hydroponics. Plants can be rooted in a variety of mediums such as Vermiculite, Rockwool, or Clay Pellets. In Hydroponics, the roots of the plants are in a constant supply of oxygen and water.
The hydroponic technique has a lot of advantages that traditional farming techniques do not offer. First and the most important utility is the ability to control the plant nutrients. Other benefits include the shortening of the growth interval of many plants, no need for investments in pesticides and herbicides, and lastly use of very less space to do the operation. The hydroponic technique has a lot of potential in the urban areas as it requires bare minimum space and investments.
Hydroponic farming is going through a phase of a renaissance of sorts, with the trend looking to extend deep into the future beyond 2020. With the increase in global food insecurities coupled with the changes in food preference towards green vegetables and fruits – the no soil, no waste and no pesticide approach of Hydroponic farming has the potential to sustain a large proportion of the global population by allowing third world countries feed their people even if certain places have poor soil quality.