Even during early human civilization years, a majority of the world depended on rice as a staple to survive. Due to its high nutritional value and low prices, it is eaten by both the rich and poor. However, as doubts appear more commonly than ever in this era, coupled with the worldwide scarcity problem, many are turning to growing rice hydroponically as a form of livelihood. Regardless of whether you are selling your rice to earn a living, or are simply doing it as a form of hobby, you are on the right page! With all the information you have at your fingertips, you can now grow your rice hydroponically in your own backyard!
Future of Hydroponic Rice
Though rice is an extremely affordable crop which requires much more effort than most crops, it may not be economically viable for everyone to go into mass rice production. However, due to the increasing droughts and water shortage in the world, rice could increasingly be higher in demand and prove to be an economical crop with increased yield and advancement in hydroponic technology. Though it may take a couple of years or decades to truly revolutionize the process of hydroponics planting, it may become the cheapest method of growing in the future.
One of the reasons why individuals prefer growing crops hydroponically over traditional gardening methods is the low water consumption rate as compared to soil. Certain crops like rice have to be immersed in water to produce the maximum amount of yield. When it is grown using a hydroponics system, the plant roots are able to absorb the water and nutrients from the nutrient solution reservoir along with a low rate of evaporation. Though hydroponics may seem like the best solution due to its benefits, it does come with its downsides as well. Hydroponic systems usually result in a lower yield compared to traditional methods, and the yield of an average hydroponics system at home is typically not enough to feed an average family for a week.
Rice requires a longer duration before it can be harvested, and it also requires more work to be done than other crops. For example, a typical lettuce head takes about 45 days before it matures, while rice on the other hand takes about four times as long, as it normally requires up to 180 days for maturation. This results in a decrease in the maximum number of growing cycles that a farmer or gardener can do in a year. Even after harvesting, rice crops require the additional step of having their stalks wrapped in newspaper so that it can dry for two weeks.
Though a hydroponics system may reap certain benefits, growing a complex crop like rice in your own hydroponic system may prove to be quite difficult. Especially for amateurs, it is advisable to grow your rice in normal soil first before moving on to hydroponics, to avoid potential disappointment.
If you are ready to take the challenge, here is the step-by-step guide to growing your rice hydroponically.
Rice seeds are quite commonly sold everywhere, and chances are, you will be able to find some in your nearby gardening stores. You can also try visiting bulk food stores and purchasing long-grain brown rice that works just as well. However, be mindful not to get white rice since white rice is processed and cannot be grown.
Allow the seeds to soaked in water for 36 hours, and leave them out to dry for 24 hours after that.
Plant the seeds in a bucket or container, and make sure there is about six inches of soil and compost. After which, fill the bucket or container with about five inches of water to ensure that the seeds receive enough water.
Leave the seeds as it is to germinate, which would take about two weeks. If you want them to germinate faster, place them in a hotter environment with a higher temperature to speed up the process. After they have germinated, it is time for transplantation. Transplant them into a hydroponic pot and brush off excess soil from the roots. Ensure that the roots are in contact with or slightly immersed in the nutrient solution.
Place the pot in a sunny area with direct sunlight. The ideal temperature of rice is around 25 degrees celsius. For gardeners who are growing in their homes, placing it next to the window is advisable. If you are planting your rice in the outdoors, it is best to adjust your growing period such that it begins during the start of summer.
Allow the rice to rest for about 180 days before it is ready to be harvested. Be sure to constantly change the nutrient solution so that your plant will have a sufficient supply of water and nutrients.
Harvest your rice stalks and wrap them in the newspaper for two weeks to dry.
Roast the rice stalks in water at 93 degrees celsius for an hour, and remove the hulls afterward. Your rice is now ready to be cooked!
Can I grow my rice in aquaponics?
Yes, you can since both systems are relatively similar. The only difference is that aquaponics uses nutrients from fish waste in the nutrient solution, as compared to traditional man-made nutrients used in the nutrient solution in hydroponics. Other components like the temperature, seeding, and harvesting processes are the same.
Even though growing rice hydroponically may not be the most economical way when it comes to earning a living, and may not be the easiest way to grow your rice at home, it is definitely worth a shot! Every gardener has to have the patience to go through many failed attempts before they get better and better at harvesting rice. If you have been contemplating on whether or not to try your hand at it, let this be the extra nudge for you in that direction, and just try it! Before you know it, you will soon be an expert at growing rice hydroponically.