Why Hydroponics Is Bad

by Lettuce Be | Last Updated: 02/23/2022

You have complete control over the nutrients that your plants receive with a hydroponic system. Are hydroponic nutrients safe for the environment and the plants? The short answer is yes as long as you use the right nutrients and know how to get rid of them appropriately. Plants require different nutrients at different stages of development, and the ratios are also critical.

Is Hydroponics Safe for Production and Human Consumption?

A hydroponic system eliminates the need for nutrient-rich soil by feeding fertilizers directly to your plants. Traditional soil is a good source of nutrients, but it’s also a good source of pests, soil-borne illnesses, and potentially dangerous temperature swings. To secure a plentiful harvest, you often have to use strong pesticides.

All that is required for a hydroponic solution are water and nutrients. It’s a much simpler and cleaner option, and you won’t have to worry about foreign toxins getting into your food supply or surrounding environment.

Is Hydroponics Safe for the Environment?

For various reasons, hydroponics is the most environmentally beneficial gardening method. It just needs a tenth of the water usage that traditional farming does. There is significantly less water loss in a hydroponic system since the water supply is cycled regularly to feed nutrients to the plants.
Pesticides are not required in most hydroponic systems to meet the standards of organic produce. Pesticides have negative impacts on human health, but they can also disrupt the local ecosystem by destroying soil conditions, harming neighboring plant life, and putting animals at risk (such as birds).

Because hydroponic systems do not require topsoil, there is no risk of erosion. Gardening land must be tilled on a regular basis, and the land eventually becomes unusable. You may protect that important area by using hydroponic farming.

When purchasing hydroponic nutrients, hydroponics growers should carefully read the label. Ascertain that your nutrients are generated in a safe and sustainable manner.

Is Hydroponics Safe With PVC?

If you’re looking for an organic hydroponics system, stay away from ones constructed of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), as they contain a lot of chlorinated chemicals. PVC-based systems are popular because they are inexpensive and don’t clog readily, but regular plastic and metal systems are superior.

Phthalates, which are found in PVC, have been related to negative effects such as birth abnormalities, testicular cancer, liver disorders, and an increased risk of breast cancer. Other poisons found in PVC include lead, cadmium, and organotins. It’s advisable to avoid PVC systems completely if you don’t want these chemicals to leach into your food supply.

Selecting Safe Hydroponic Chemicals

Always check that the solution is designed for use in hydroponic gardens when shopping for hydroponic nutrients. Nutrients intended for soil should not be purchased. Because soil has its own nutrient profile, it has very different needs than a hydroponic system.

The nutrients essential for soilless development are found in a suitable hydroponic solution. Soil, for example, is a rich source of nitrogen, therefore soil-specific nutrient solutions will be low in nitrogen. However, because there is no soil to draw from, hydroponic systems require nitrogen in the nitrate form. This element will be abundant in a hydroponic fertilizer solution.

The NPK Ratio

Always start with the NPK ratio when shopping for nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) (K).

The NPK ratio is commonly displayed on the package as three digits separated by dashes, such as 6-5-5. This shows how much of each nutrient is present in the solution. So, if the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratios are 6-5-5, you’re looking at 6% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 5% potassium.

Most plants are safe with a 5-5-5 or 6-5-5 NPK. Always do your homework before purchasing your plant. Many plants require varying amounts of NPK at different stages of development, and others require more or less of each nutrient. A plant with hefty stalks and leaves, for example, may require more protein, necessitating the use of a nitrogen-dominant solution. In this scenario, an NPK closer to 20-5-5 could be preferable.

Start with a mild solution of 2-1-2 for seedlings and work your way up to 10-5-7 for the vegetative stage if you’re growing cannabis. To maintain proper growth and prevent nutrient deficiencies, always stick to the suggested ratios.

Although not every plant needs every nutrient, these are the most typical supplements. For your specific grow, look into trace nutrients. Magnesium, for example, is critical for developing bell peppers.

Nutrient Solutions: Organic vs. Synthetic

For hydroponic growers, organic nutrient solutions are usually the best option. Bone meal and fish emulsion are among the all-natural animal and plant wastes used. Synthetic solutions, on the other hand, are loaded with phosphates, sulfates, and a variety of other harsh compounds generated in the lab. The volume of nutrients in synthetic and organic solutions is the same, but organic nutrients are better for plant health.

Synthetic solutions are used by certain gardeners because they do not clog hydroponic pumps as organic solutions do. Synthetics are pre-broken down, allowing them to release more swiftly and flow more easily through the system. Organic farming takes longer to work and requires more patience, but they’re well worth it in the end.

Powder vs. Liquid Solutions

Both liquid and powder solutions are available, and both are safe to use as long as the nutrient ratios are correct. Cost, convenience, and personal preference are the deciding factors.

Hobbyists and small-scale producers are more likely to use liquids. They’re pricier, but they’re pre-mixed and simple to use. For larger commercial grows, dry nutrition solutions are more typically employed. Although the minerals must be blended and diluted properly, these nutrients are far less expensive, especially when purchased in bulk.

Choosing the Correct Temperature for a Nutrient-rich Solution

The temperature of the hydroponic nutrient solution must be kept in mind if you want to maintain a safe and healthy growth cycle. Hydroponic plants have different temperature requirements than soil-grown plants, and if you don’t keep the right temperature, you’ll have wilted plants and rotten fruits.

Maintain a constant temperature of 68 to 72 degrees for your plants. It’s fine if the plants occasionally go above or below this temperature, but you should try to keep them within this range.

How to Dispose of Hydroponic Chemicals Safely

Although hydroponics is generally environmentally friendly, there is one issue that needs to be addressed: irresponsible hydroponic disposal. Some growers, particularly hobbyists, make the error of flushing their hydroponic water down the toilet or into the garden. This can have serious environmental implications, and you may be penalized as a result.

The issue is that the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and sulfur are all present in your used hydroponic water. Each of these nutrients has an impact on the environment in the area. Nitrogen buildup, for example, can cause phytoplankton and algal blooms in streams, lakes, and other water bodies. This unwelcome growth can deplete oxygen levels and discharge harmful pollutants into the environment over time.

Purifying used nutrient-rich water is the finest thing to do before discarding it. Reverse osmosis (RO) water filter is the most cost-effective choice if you manage a small hydroponic system at home. Just pour the water into the filter. The nutrients are removed from the wastewater, allowing you to safely dispose of it.

An RO filter may not be sufficient for bigger commercial systems. To filter the large volume of hydroponic water, you may need to invest in a UV disinfection system or pasteurization equipment. You may also require the services of an experienced trash management firm that is familiar with the issues and requirements of your particular grow.

This is especially true for industries that are severely regulated, such as cannabis growing. An expert cannabis waste management company is a significant tool because cannabis businesses have particularly precise disposal requirements (including specific tracking requirements).

The Hydroponics Safety Golden Rules

Remember the following golden principles to ensure that your hydroponic nutrients are safe for your healthy plants and the surrounding ecosystem:

  • Only use fertilizer solutions made specifically for hydroponic produce.
  • Stick to organic rather than manufactured nutrient options.
  • Keep track of your NPK ratios and interior temps.
  • Prior to disposal, always filter your wastewater.
  • If you have a huge organization, use a waste management company with experience.

Hydroponic growing is the most environmentally friendly method of growing. Simply replacing soil with one of these systems will go a long way toward encouraging healthy food and a healthy environment. You can make your hydroponics systems picture-perfect with only a few careful measures in a limited space.