Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics
A Look At Aeroponics Vs Hydroponics
When taking into account the advantages or disadvantages of aeroponics vs hydroponics as possible methods of growing plants, the third approach, using soil, shouldn't be left out entirely. Soil certainly has an advantage as far as ease and convenience of growing is concerned, and as it's a bit hard to conceive of wheat or corn harvests of the size we're accustomed to being achieved either through the use of aeroponics or hydroponics.
Assuming that soil isn't readily available in large enough quantities to support a crop, in a spacecraft for example, one would have to resort to either aeroponics or hydroponics as the growing process. The aeroponics vs hydroponics discussion then begins to take on some meaning.
Hydroponics - Most of us are familiar with hydroponics, in which plants are grown in water rather than in soil. It isn't just plain water however, as plain water wouldn't provide any of the nutrients a plant needs to grow. Plants need water, but need many other things as well, which soil normally provides. With hydroponics, plants are grown suspended in a nutrient rich mineral solution, a sort of liquid soil, though no dirt is involved.
Aeroponics - Aeroponics is newer on the scene as a growing process, and likely a process unfamiliar to most. As the name "aero" implies, the plants grow in air, with neither soil nor a liquid medium surrounding the root structure. We all know that plants will not survive if the roots are allowed to dry out. With an aeroponics process this is not allowed to happen. The roots are continuously misted or sprayed with a nutrient-containing liquid, differing from hydroponics in that the roots are not submerged in nutrients but rather coated with them, along with moisture the plant also requires.
Risk - It would seem that in a discussion of aeroponics vs hydroponics, aeroponics would be a far riskier approach. if the spraying mechanism were to fail, a whole crop could be lost in a matter of hours, if not minutes in some cases. This is indeed one of the advantages hydroponics has. in fact a hydroponics system is often used as a backup just in case the aforementioned problem occurs.
Set Up And Operating Costs - It's also fair to say that implementing an aeroponics system is a little more complicated than using hydroponics, and obviously much more complicated than using dirt. Still, there are many compelling reasons to implement an aeroponics system, especially in places where the soil is poor and water is somewhat scarce. There is usually more involved in setting up an aeroponics system, but once in place such a system is in many respects superior to hydroponics, especially where water is either expensive or at a premium. The operating costs for an aeroponics system in general tends to be lower.
Crop Yield - If either aeroponics or hydroponics become economically viable for very large crops, one would expect vastly improved yields as a matter of course. Aeroponics has a distinct advantage here as it allows greater air circulation about the roots, more so than soil, and especially more so than hydroponics, where the liquid medium can only contain a limited amount of air. Adding a related factor to the aeroponics vs hydroponics discussion is that with aeroponics, it is much easier to supply carbon dioxide to the plants, necessary for photosynthesis and growth.
Plant Disease - When using aeroponics, the plants can also be separated, or somewhat isolated from one another. Unlike the case with hydroponics or planting in soil, if disease strikes an individual plant, it is much less likely to spread to adjacent plants, as the nutrient spray is not as good a carrier of diseases as is a liquid planting medium or soil.
Economic Feasibility - Neither aeroponics or hydroponics, especially the former, lend themselves to outdoor gardening, and in economical terms are somewhat similar to the solar panel as far as return on investment upon implantation is concerned at the present time. For some home gardeners, hydroponics are already a fact of life, while the use of aeroponics is not yet widely established. One has ample time to research both processes before making a choice, or deciding to simply stick to good old garden soil.