Organic Hydroponic Plant Food Guide
Organic Hydroponic Plant Food Guide. Aiming to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible, organic crop farming aims to grow plants for food, decoration, medicine, or other purposes without the use of pesticides.
Health, ecology, fairness, and care are the four guiding principles of organic farming.
Hydroponic growing systems have a great potential for going organic because of their high rate of water savings, controlled growth that reduces the need for pesticides and fertilizers, and typically no heavy human labor. There is, however, a catch.
image of Organic Hydroponic Plant Food
Discussion Regarding Organic Hydroponics Certification
Of all the guiding principles mentioned, the organic hydroponics controversy falls under the category of ecology.
Soil health is a key component of organic production according to definitions used globally. Conventional organic farmers take many steps to improve the health of their soils because healthy soils not only contain more nutrients for plant growth but also have a positive impact on biodiversity. It even has an impact on climate change because organically managed soil will sequester and hold in more carbon dioxide than soil from conventionally managed farms.
Many organic farmers believe that since hydroponics, aquaponics, and aeroponics do not use any soil at all, they automatically violate one of the fundamental principles of organic production.
However, US-based hydroponic growers who have achieved organic certification contend that hydroponic organic production still adequately addresses the primary concern of organic consumers by continuing to produce food free of synthetic pesticides.
Some hydroponic and aquaponic crops should receive organic labels, according to a 2017 vote by the National Organic Standards Board of the US Department of Agriculture. Crops grown in aeroponic systems were not approved.
While hydroponic producers and businesses applauded the decision, soil growers reacted very negatively to it. One of the early proponents of organic farming, English botanist Albert Howard, was quoted as saying that “the health of soil, plant, animal, and man is one and indivisible.”
Does It Matter At All?
It is currently unknown whether the NOSB’s decisions will change over time or if the current disagreements will give rise to a new labeling system, such as “Regenerative Agriculture.” In any case, only if you want to become a certified organic producer will these choices matter to you.
However, the majority of those who use hydroponics do so as a hobby, for fun, and to feed their families and friends nutritious food. If you belong to that group, the conclusion of this discussion won’t have much of an impact on you.
After all, you can still participate in the green market and explain your values to the customers even if you don’t have a certificate but want to sell your extra produce.
Even though the health of our planet’s soil depends on it, if you are a fan of hydroponics or aquaponics and are still concerned about the impact of your hobby on the environment, know that hydroponics still has many characteristics that make it good for the Earth, certified or not.
Reasons why hydroponics is environmentally friendly:
- Hydroponics conserves water. It uses only 1-2 percent of it compared to conventional agriculture! Given that water scarcity is a growing issue for both humans and the environment, that is pretty impressive.
- Spaces that would not otherwise be suitable for food production can be used thanks to hydroponics.
- You can grow food in your apartment, balcony, garage, warehouse, and many other arid and ecologically “dead” areas, relieving pressure on farmland.
- Solutions for organic hydroponics created from scratch make use of organic waste that would otherwise go to a landfill.
- Even industrial organic solutions are by definition more environmentally friendly than conventional chemical fertilizers.
- A possibility exists that the fish you raise as part of aquaponics will be used for human consumption. Some of the worst environmental destruction on the planet is caused by the world’s desire for the proteins found in meat and fish. You relieve pressure on the natural ecosystems by producing fish protein sustainably in a closed system.
Some of the disadvantages of Hydroponics:
- Very high energy usage. Pumps and lighting are used in productive hydroponic systems, which use a lot of power because they are typically on. If possible, solar energy can be used to solve this problem.
- The number of plant species you can grow is restricted, so you can’t try to establish a true agricultural ecosystem that would benefit the local wildlife and biodiversity. This also applies to the soil conundrum.
Environmental issues with organic hydroponics include:
- Time and labor. Your time will be consumed by all the experimentation, and some efforts might prove fruitless. It is better to make an effort to evaluate this at the outset rather than having regrets later on in the project.
- Troubleshooting. In a non-standardized practice, it is more challenging to identify the root cause of systemic issues. Fortunately, this is made simpler by the robust online community of hydroponics enthusiasts, and there is a good chance that someone with similar experience will be able to assist you in case something goes wrong.
- Mess. Some people may not enjoy the mess that results from experimenting with making compost teas and other organic solutions because they prefer hydroponics because of how clean it is. However, if you use a commercial organic base, things are a little bit neater.
Organic hydroponics: Is it secure?
Inaccuracies abound regarding organic hydroponics.
First of all, a lot of people assert that this is impossible to do because the system will stink, clog, or simply fail to provide all the essential nutrients for healthy plant growth and disease resistance. Many contend that without synthetic fertilizers, successful hydroponics is impossible and that plants have a high risk of dying from pathogenic fungi and bacteria that thrive on the anaerobic breakdown of nutrients that are unavailable to plants.
But there are many documented instances of successful organic hydroponic systems. Check out this fantastic documentary article by Keith Johnson for a thorough account of one successful organic grower as a great example. These can be found in his group for organic hydroponics.
Hydroponic systems can use water with nitrates sourced from natural decay processes, as demonstrated by the widely used aquaponics technique.
The Fundamentals of Organic Hydroponics
The organic hydroponic system has one significant difference in how you approach plant nutrition.
With traditional hydroponics, all you really need to do is monitor and test your water periodically and adhere to the directions already provided for the various types of fertilizers.
Utilizing organic remedies entails more planning, closer chemical observation, and ineluctable trial-and-error experimentation until you figure out what is most effective for you and your systems.
Many people who attempt organic hydroponics for the first time fail because they simply switch out their old chemical fertilizer for an organic one, even though their system does not meet the requirements for organic hydroponics.
As an illustration, the author unsuccessfully attempted the straightforward replacement in the video above. The problem is that organic fertilizer that has been directly dissolved in water can’t really be used by plants. The nitrifying bacteria need to pre-digest it. This deep water culture is inherently unsuitable for organic production due to its lack of a growing medium and possibly low oxygen levels.
An ideal system for organic hydroponics should contain the following components:
- Hydroponic medium/substrate
Using Organic Nutrients in Hydroponics
With an aquaponics system, you are already utilizing a natural, organic nutrient solution: water that has been enriched with fish waste and balanced out by nitrifying bacteria.
Even without a fish tank, you can still produce your own natural nutrient solutions by rotting other kinds of organic waste in a hydroponics system.
Utilizing synthetic organic fertilizers
In organic hydroponics, getting the nutrients just right is crucial. Most likely, organic fertilizers won’t be able to supply a significant proportion of all necessary minerals. But some mineral salts, like magnesium sulfate and other trace elements in sulfate, are permitted in organic production. You can use them to compensate for any potential drawbacks of organic fertilizers.
The hardest part is making enough calcium and nitrogen available for your plants because they need a lot of both of these elements. For this reason, a good place to start is with an organic base fertilizer like fish emulsion mixed with an organic liquid calcium product; organic nitrogen can be added later.
DIY Nutritional Options
You can attempt to create your own nutrient solution from scratch if you want to make your organic hydroponic garden even more self-sufficient and sustainable.
The most important part of this technique is pre-digesting organic (waste) materials to make them available for your plants. This can be accomplished by using liquid bio-digesters, or, better yet, by using vermiculture (worms) and making worm tea from the solid worm castings, or else by using compost.
Remember that concentration is typically the main problem with organic fertilizers. If you give your plants too little food, they will be malnourished, which will cause stunted growth, malformations, and a greater susceptibility to disease. Too much nutrient buildup can cause oxygen to be depleted and pathogens to multiply, which can cause your plants to suffocate and die.
Because of this, every organic grower needs to be aware of both the early warning signs of plant malnutrition and the signs that too much fertilizer is being applied. Remember that before an overfed system affects plants, its warning signs should be identified (testing results, color, smell, and texture of the solution, slime in the substrate, etc.).
Use small amounts of your nutrient solution at first to observe how the plants respond, as a general rule of thumb. When you achieve balance, problems will gradually disappear as the system ages.
Food Sources and Microbe Activity
In either scenario, there must be sufficient microbial activity in the area surrounding the plant’s root zone to make nutrients available. It is bacteria’s aerobic (oxygenated) digestion that renders the nutrients bioavailable to plants. You may be familiar with this concept from aquaponics.
A process of anaerobic degradation by various types of bacteria will occur if there is not enough bacterial activity or oxygen around plants. This results in the substrate becoming smelly and a haven for pathogenic microorganisms while also not providing enough nutrition for the plants.
You need a hydroponic substrate because it will give the microorganisms enough surface area to grow and enough oxygen for them to survive. This will promote healthy aerobic bacterial activity. The essentials for bacterial growth are provided by biofilters.
You might want to watch this video about the biofilter Keith Johnson, the successful organic hydroponics practitioner I mentioned above, made about his system:
Hydroponics using seawater
In conventional agriculture, trace minerals must be added to depleted soil to promote healthy plant growth because they are crucial for plant growth.
Consider something else that is naturally abundant in mineral salts. Of course, there are the sea solids—salt and other traces of evaporated seawater. Sea-based hydroponics and the addition of sea salt solutions to soils have both been the subject of extensive experimentation.
Dr. Maynard Murray is one of the enthusiasts who ventured the farthest. He allegedly conducted a lot of successful experiments, and even carried out a large-scale project that used seawater-based hydroponics.
Dr. Murray went so far as to suggest that seawater-based hydroponics is the solution to regaining humanity’s health. He claimed that modern human diseases arise because the soil (and the plants that grow on it) have become depleted of nutrients.
It is certain that hydroponics can be done in a sustainable way, the one that will be the best match to organic practices – only with the soil removed from the equation. This is regardless of the final decision on organic hydroponics in the coming period.
Without using artificial fertilizers and pesticides, hydroponics production does require more effort and trial and error. Fortunately, there are a lot of helpful resources you can use, but in the end, you’ll have to figure out for yourself what works for your specific area, plants, and organic fertilizer type.
If every hydroponic grower tried his or her own unique experimental organic approach, it would be interesting to see what new discoveries would emerge.
QnA Organic Hydroponic Plant Food
What is the best organic nutrients for hydroponics?
A few of the best types of common organic fertilizer used for hydroponics are: Manure based. Fish meal. Gypsum based. Bone meal. Guano. Blood meal. Compost based. Plant based.
Can hydroponic nutrients be organic?
Organic hydroponics is a hydroponics culture system based on organic agriculture concepts that does not use synthetic inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. In organic hydroponics, nutrient solutions are derived from organic plant and animal material or naturally mined substances.
How do you make organic nutrients for hydroponics?
What do you feed hydroponic plants?
The perfect nutrient for hydroponic plants 1) Nitrogen. Nitrogen is involved in plant growth and metabolism. 2) Phosphorus. Phosphorus stimulates the roots and facilitates photosynthesis. 3) Potassium. Potassium facilitates the control and efficient use of water by the plant to grow well.
Can you grow hydroponics without nutrients?
So time to answer the big question, is hydroponics without nutrients even possible? No, hydroponics without nutrients isn’t possible. Within a hydroponics system the nutrients in the water are the only source of food for your plants and without the nutrients your plants won’t grow.
Why is hydroponic not organic?
Hydroponic systems rely on nutrient solutions to provide all of the plant nutrition; these nutrients may come from organic sources, but they usually rely on refined mineral fertilizers.
Is hydroponic better than organic?
The fertilizers used in hydroponics are much more pure than those utilized in organic growing, and they also leave no residue in cultivated produce. The result is that more people can be fed, less precious natural resources are used, and the produce is much healthier and flavorful.
How do you make organic hydroponic solution at home?
Add 2 teaspoons of a water-soluble commercial organic fertilizer for each gallon of water. Measure 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts, a naturally occurring product, for each gallon of water and add the Epsom salts to the liquid.
How do you make a hydroponic nutrient solution at home?
Making Hydroponic Solution at Home Buy the nutrients. You should buy nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, etc. to make the base of your fertilizer. Use clean water. You should use filtered water. Mix the salts with water. You should add the salts slowing into the water. Add micronutrients. Adjust the pH level. Adjust EC level.
What is the best fertilizer to use in hydroponics?
Best Hydroponics Nutrients 2021 General Hydroponics Flora Grow, Bloom, Micro Combo Fertilizer Set. Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula. General Hydroponics Organic Go Box. Advanced Nutrients Bloom, Micro and Grow. MasterBlend 4-18-38 Complete Combo Kit Fertilizer.
Can I use regular plant food for hydroponics?
Yes. First you need to completely avoid products that contain N mainly as urea or ammonium. Useful products to get for your hydroponic grow will be fully water soluble and will either contain nitrogen solely as nitrate or no nitrogen at all.
How often should I feed my hydroponic plants?
When using a pot over 30 litres, feed once per 24 hours until the plant reaches 30cm wide/high. Then feed twice per 24 hours until the plant reaches 50cm wide/high before feeding the maximum of three times every 24 hours.