Farming has been evolving since its inception, it’s changed over time as mankind has developed more efficient ways to improve yield and consistency, and decrease effort. As the world’s population rises to dizzying numbers, the demand for more efficient agricultural methods grows greater and greater, as there is less space for farms and farmers, agriculturalists and the scientific community in general, have found some incredibly creative ways to make this happen.
Two of today’s most popular methods of farming are organic and Hydroponic farming. Both methods are effective and both have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s a polarizing question in the farming community. What are the benefits of choosing organic over hydroponic? Or vice versa. This article will examine both methods and each of the benefits that each hold.
Hydroponic farming is growing plants in water alone with no soil. The plants thrive completely off water and salts which are dissolved into the water. The plants get all of the nutrients they need to grow from only these properties. These farms are built with closed-off pipe systems that have a continuous stream of water running through them. This method of farming has recently become very popular because it offers distinct advantages over soil-based farming. Not needing soil gives farmers more freedom as to where they can develop their crops in a sense changing how and where people farm.
Organic farming is growing crops in soil without the presence of fertilizer or any other unnatural chemicals. Some farms will use these chemicals to accelerate crop growth. Given that these chemicals can have a negative effect on neighbouring ecosystems and sometimes even the crops, it’s sustainable to grow organically. Crops that organically farmed in soil enhance the neighbouring environment.
It’s all-natural and that’s why it is so favourable with so many farmers. Using natural products to accelerate growth gives certain assurances around quality. Growing crops organically is ethical and a good way to ensure a clean healthy product, though consistency can become a big issue- as you are a slave to the elements.
Hydroponic farming seems to be the obvious choice in regards to sustainability, for a number of reasons. There is a lot more room for creativity with hydroponic farming and it means farmers don’t have to use massive amounts of land to cultivate a crop. 90% less water is used as a lot of the water is recycled. There is less of a disruption to neighbouring ecosystems. Large farms have a reputation for damaging or in some cases destroying surrounding native life.
Hydroponic farms can be constructed almost anywhere as long as they have water and light-but even this isn’t a real drawback, as artificial light and water supply can be rigged to suit any kind of indoor environment.
This opens up a number of exciting possibilities that organic farming just can’t give. Urban areas can quickly become more eco-friendly with hydroponic farming. Vertical farms can maximize space while saving water.
Organic farming is still a very sustainable method of farming as it creates its own self sustaining the ecosystem. Organic farms will use animals and bugs to help control pests or support plant growth. It also reduces pollution, saves water and increases soil fertility. This means that organic farms support their neighbouring ecosystems while also supporting other forms of life.
In a sense, Organic farming is the purest method of farming available. Given that the world is too large to be sustained off hydroponic farming alone and soil farming is needed to keep the soil fertile, organic methods are the obvious choice if you want to farm in soil.
Which produces a better product?
It’s hard to say which method produces a better product. Too many factors contribute to the quality of a crop and you can’t definitively say one is better than the other. However hydroponic farming provides crops with a lot more nutrients in a controlled environment. Since there are more concentrated compounds that can be dissolved into the water, Hydroponic farming yields better results.
Hydroponic farming does present limitations as to what it is able to grow. Some crops just aren’t suitable as sufficient technology has yet to be developed to grow them. This is where organic farming has an advantage. Organic farms can support any type of crop and keeping everything natural ensures the purity of crops. Purity and the organic seal of approval means a lot to consumers as it has their trust.
Which has more risk?
Organic farming has a higher risk/reward as you have less control over the elements. Hydroponic farming, on the other hand, allows the farmer to have more control over certain elements. This control leads to consistency which means hydroponic farming is more efficient.