28 Jul From Seed to Harvest: Hydroponic Plant Growth Essentials
Hydroponic farming offers a new way of growing plants that lends farmers better control over their crops, enabling them to produce food anywhere at any time of the year, all while netting higher yields with fewer resources. With growing seasons now in a major flux due to climate change, hydroponic systems in Singapore provide a way to overcome these challenges and keep the food supply chain moving.
To achieve successful growth in a hydroponic system, it is vital to closely manage the nutrients provided to the plants based on their specific needs. From the initial stages of planting to the final harvest, providing the correct nutrition is fundamental for the thriving growth and development of hydroponic plants. Let’s explore the key essentials for hydroponic plant nutrition:
1. Nutrient Solution
The nutrient solution is crucial for plants, providing essential nutrition for healthy growth. It typically consists of a well-balanced mix of vital minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulphur, along with trace elements such as iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and boron.
When selecting a nutrient solution, you have two options: pre-formulated solutions readily available in the market or crafting a custom solution tailored to your plant’s specific requirements.
2. pH Balancing
Maintaining the correct pH level of the nutrient solution is essential as it directly affects the plants’ ability to access the nutrients they require. Different plants have their unique pH preferences, but as a general rule, most hydroponic crops thrive within a pH range of 5.5 to 6.5.
To ensure you consistently provide these optimal conditions, using pH testing kits or digital pH meters is highly recommended. Regularly monitoring the pH level enables you to make necessary adjustments whenever required, ensuring your plants receive the best possible growing conditions for healthy development and maximum nutrient absorption.
3. Seed Germination
Providing your hydroponic garden with a strong foundation starts with using high-quality seeds or seedlings. The first step is seed germination, which can be achieved using a growing medium such as rock wool cubes or oasis cubes. These mediums foster ideal seed germination and seedling development. When the seedlings are ready, they can be safely transferred to your hydroponic system for ongoing growth and nourishment.
4. Growing Medium
In hydroponics, the growing medium is pivotal in supporting the plants and anchoring their roots. Several popular options for growing mediums include rock wool, clay pellets, perlite, vermiculite, and coconut coir, among others.
The ideal growing medium should meet specific criteria: it should be inert, meaning it doesn’t chemically react with the nutrient solution; it should be pH-neutral, and possess excellent water retention and aeration properties. These qualities ensure that the plants’ roots obtain the proper balance of moisture and oxygen, allowing for optimal development and nutrient uptake in the hydroponic system.
Hydroponic systems are often set up indoors or within greenhouses, where natural sunlight may be insufficient to support plant growth. Therefore, adequate lighting becomes crucial for proper photosynthesis and healthy development.
LED grow lights have gained popularity in hydroponic setups due to their energy efficiency and ability to deliver the specific light spectrum required for different growth stages. By using LED grow lights, you can provide optimal light conditions for your plants, encouraging their growth and overall productivity even in the absence of natural sunlight.
6. Nutrient Schedule
Plants have distinct nutrient requirements throughout their various growth stages. Adhering to a nutrient schedule involves adjusting nutrient concentrations and ratios as your plants progress from seedlings to mature plants. This approach allows you to effectively provide the right nutrients at the right time, supporting healthy growth and maximising the potential of your plants throughout their lifecycle.
7. Electrical Conductivity (EC)
Electrical Conductivity (EC) refers to the measurement of total dissolved salts in the nutrient solution used for hydroponic plants. By monitoring the EC levels, you can ensure that your plants are receiving the appropriate amount of nutrients they need.
Plant growth relies on various key nutrients like those listed above, along with many other micronutrients for certain plants. Besides providing the right nutrients, ensuring that your hydroponic components are free of heavy metals and toxins is also important to promote plant growth.
At Vicplas, we offer an extensive selection of eco-friendly and non-toxic hydroponic plastic components, designed for long-term use and high-yield farming. Our VPONIC™ series includes channels, gutters, germination trays, and pipes, which are essential for any hydroponic system. These products feature excellent flow properties, weathering resistance, and numerous benefits, making them ideal for mobile and static hydroponic systems.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our ISO-certified and BCA-SGBC Green Mark recognised products, like the SS141 UPVC pipes.