With a growing number of mouths to feed in the world, our natural resources are depleting more rapidly. Consequently, the issues of crop handling and nutrition deprivation are increasingly potent.
Mankind’s answer? Hydroponics, a revolutionary way of agriculture with various types of layouts to choose from.
Hydroponics is a method of cultivation using water instead of soil to provide the necessary nutrients for the crops.
This not only enhances farming efficiency regardless of water supply or weather conditions but its elasticity in the production of crops is also gaining attention by the day.
Let’s talk about how you can build your own affordable, functional hydroponics plantation apparatus at home.
Choosing A Location For Your Cultivation Platform
Pick the area for your cultivation system wisely because once the entire system is installed, it’s nearly impossible to move without damaging it. Additionally, if you do opt for a glasshouse design, the area you choose has to allow the structure to be built specifically to the glasshouse.
Firstly, the land needs to be firm to support the heavy hydroponic equipment as a soft ground could lead to interrupted water supply or a drenched system. Needless to say, the land should also be balanced.
Regardless of shelter, weather conditions can affect production outcomes. Powerful winds might destroy the hydroponics structure and hinder plant growth, assuming that it hasn’t already damaged your plants. Rain is worse. While precipitation can thin the nutrients in the solution or flood the system, advent snow can freeze and block the flow of minerals.
Next, the area you choose should provide plenty of sunlight to your crops to facilitate its growth. Do note that the areas exposed to sunlight shifts throughout the day and that different types of plants require a different amount of light. For one, lettuce and other vegetations respond rapidly to light exposure by overgrowing.
For indoor systems, be sure to get a high-grade source of light such as LED or a set of fluorescent lights.
Last but not least, the facilities that a good cultivation platform requires must also be available. A strong supply of electricity and water is necessary to sustain the hydroponic system so ensure that these are available on your site. The location should also allow for regular overhauls on the system and placement of palings that enclose the area from invaders.
A Glasshouse For Your Cultivation Platform
If you live in a wintry climate, getting a greenhouse around your cultivation platform is crucial for undisrupted yield throughout the year. It also prevents the need to change soils due to bug infestation.
Other than consideration for the size and form of your greenhouse, the rest of the steps in building your cultivation platform should be the same. Some suitable materials you can make the platform with are a wide plastic planting plate or a small-scaled gardening bed.
If greenhouses aren’t for you, there are more economical alternatives for your DIY hydroponic cultivation platform.
Wooden Cultivation Platform
Prices of the components are competitive, given the growing popularity of this innovative industry for hydroponics. Although many are hopping onto the trend, this agricultural technology can be complicated to set up if you lack the fundamental information for building it.
Here’s a guideline for making and sustaining a basic hydroponic system with a wooden cultivation platform.
Start by building a thoroughly sealed wooden —or plastic, if you wish— container with reinforcing nails at about half a meter apart.
Then, proceed to drill holes to install pipes and an overflow system at the lower side. Secure all gaps to ensure that the box is leak-proof and tip the contraption to one side with an object. Pierce some holes on a 15cm pipe then attach it to the pit filled with metal mesh for convenient regular maintenance. Ensure the higher end is flushed to the box while the other side connects to the draining system.
If you have a greenhouse, fit this set-up in. It should ideally be on an elevated surface with a water catchment. To eliminate the need for the manual refilling of water, install a plastic vessel along with a pump and chronometer system beside the water catchment that is set to replenish the water twice daily.
If all that is done correctly, a completely filled container should be emptied in 15 minutes.
What You Need To Build An Affordable Hydroponic
Your cultivation platform should preferably be 15 to 20 cm deep for ideal root growth. Pack it with a medium of your choice. You can fill part of the void with cheaper, non-ablative mediums like styrofoam to cut costs.
Ideally, your cultivation platform should be made of fiberglass or plastic, although the latter might get misshapen over time without additional reinforcements.
The system is best conserved if the mineral-filled water catchment has the same capacity as the cultivation platform but is longer by at least 15 cm for convenient maintenance.
Make sure to also block light out from the catchment solution to minimize algae development.
The tube fixed on the lower side of the catchment that is meant for maintenance should be attached to a pump for water to both enter and leave.
Part of the pipework also includes the overflow tubes that are precisely one centimeter underneath the cultivation medium. This is important for regulating mineral levels in the cultivation platform.
What Should The Dimensions Of Your Cultivation Platform Be?
A store-bought cultivation platform usually has conventional dimensions. But, if you choose to DIY your hydroponics, then you need to determine the dimensions using your own discretion.
An important determinant of the shape and dimensions of your cultivation platform is the species of plants you aim to grow. If your desired plant has long roots, you would require a cultivation platform with longer depth. Meanwhile, plants that need space to grow out calls for a bigger platform surface area.
On this note, you should be ready to DIY your very own hydroponic system. If you’re still unclear about any aspect, feel free to do some further research online to find out more. Once you know the essential elements of a hydroponic system and their respective functions, your imagination is the only limit to designing the cultivation platform of your dreams.