Many people are asking and wondering are hydroponic vegetables less nutritious. In this article, we’ll try to give you more information and answers. Plants receive their nutrients from whatever their roots are submerged in, whether that be soil or hydroponically.
How Hydroponics Works?
First let’s look at how plants are grown in hydroponics and why it may be a better solution.
With the continuous increase in population, some estimates propose that there is a need for 70% more food in the future but 80% of cultivated land is already in use, and the speedy urbanization is set to extend the challenge of food production sustainably.
Hydroponic farming is a farming approach for the production of food where farmers can grow plants without the use of soil. This practice uses mineral nutrients to nourish plants in water without using soil. Hydroponic farming involves only around 10% compared to soil-based agriculture. It is because hydroponic systems provide reuse and recycling of water and nutrient solutions, and hence, no water is wasted.
The nutritional value of hydroponically grown vegetables appears to be the same as the ones found in soil.
Why is Hydroponics Important?
Hydroponics is important because it can provide higher yields than traditional farming. Hydroponic vegetables produce can be farmed indoors or outdoors in nutrient-enriched water which can be re-used. It’s also important because the produce is grown in a controlled environment lowering the chances of diseases such as e. coli.
To grow 2.2 lb of tomatoes using intensive farming methods requires 110 gallons of water while using hydroponics, 18 gallons and only 5.3 gallons using aeroponics.
Hydroponics is a new type of soilless cultivation of plants, also known as nutrient solution culture. Its core is to directly soak the roots of plants in nutrient solution. This nutrient solution can replace soil and provide plants with water, nutrients, oxygen, etc. Growth factors enable plants to grow normally.
The nutrients used in hydroponic systems to grow hydroponic vegetables can come from many different sources, including (but not limited to) fish excrement, duck manure, purchased chemical fertilizers, or artificial nutrient solutions.
Hydroponics has the potential to sustain a large proportion of the world’s population and to allow third-world countries to feed their own people, even in places where soil is poor and water is scarce.
If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… The people who give you their food give you their heart.Cesar Chavez
Common methods of hydroponics
There are four common hydroponic technologies, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Deep Flow Technique, referred to as DFT (Deep Flow Technique)
- Nutrient Film Technique referred to as NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)
- Floating Capillary Hydroponics cultivation technology referred to as FCH (Floating Capillary Hydroponics)
- Spray culture technology, also known as spray culture, aeroponics (Aeroponics)
Are Hydroponic Vegetables Less Nutritious?
In the soil, organic matter is decomposed by soil microorganisms and animals, and transformed into mineral nutrients needed for plant growth. The water in the soil dissolves these mineral nutrients (usually in ionic form) so that they can be absorbed by the roots of plants. In order for plants to obtain balanced nutrition, the various substances in the soil must meet the optimal ratio. Unfortunately, such soil is very rare in nature.
After adopting hydroponics, hydroponic vegetables can directly absorb the nutrients and water in the nutrient solution through the roots, and people can manually prepare a nutrient-balanced solution to achieve a balanced “diet” of the plant, which is obviously much easier than finding the soil. Because these solutions are all contained in containers, they can be recycled and will not flow into the soil to affect the environment, and are safe, reliable and sustainable.
Professor Allen V. Barker from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at University of Massachusetts said:
“Plants make their own vitamins, so vitamin levels tend to be similar whether a vegetable is grown hydroponically or in soil. It’s the mineral content that can vary in hydroponic crops — depending on the fertilizer used. You can enhance a plant’s nutrient levels simply by adding nutrients to the solution they’re grown in. You could add whatever you wanted: calcium or magnesium, or minor elements like zinc or iron. The result is that vegetables grown hydroponically could even be “nutritionally superior” to traditionally grown ones.“
Nutritional/trace elements from the soil do contribute to the nutritional make up of soil-grown fruits and vegetables. As we know in hydroponics plants are growing in a soilless medium people would expect that these hydroponically grown vegetables would not have access to these trace elements in the soil.
And here is where people missed it and that hydroponic vegetables less nutritious believe is wrong. Even the plants grow without soil, the water medium supply with these trace elements and compounds!
The plants are grown in hydroponic and never come into contact with soil also means that they won’t absorb heavy metals from the soil. Hydroponic vegetables or any hydroponic plant do not need pesticides, herbicides, fungicides because the chance of being contaminated by disease-causing bacteria that may exist in manure-based fertilizers is smaller.
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When a plant is grown in soil, its roots are perpetually searching for the necessary nutrition to support the plant. The bottom line is it depends on the nutrient solution the vegetables are grown in, but the belief that grown hydroponic vegetables less nutritious is wrong and they can be just as nutritious as those grown in soil.
It is not the soil but roots that transmit the valuable nutrients to plant to grow. In fact, hydroponics plants are more healthy and nutritious than soil.
There are two main variations for each medium: sub-irrigation and top irrigation. For all techniques, most hydroponic reservoirs are now built of plastic, but other materials have been used including concrete, glass, metal, vegetable solids, and wood. The containers should exclude light to prevent algae and fungal growth in the nutrient solution.
Because the vegetables are grown in a controlled environment and all the nutrients are delivered to the roots directly using water and no pesticides are used can make it a better option compared to traditional farming.
In hydroponics, the plants are given vertical support and the roots are submerged in, continuously sprayed with, or otherwise exposed to a nutrient solution. Hydroponic vegetables get their nutrients delivered to the roots instead of the roots having to look for them. The plant spends less energy sending roots out, penetrating soil, etc. Nutrients are always available, plentiful, and are all around the roots