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Why Hydroponics is “Bad”: 10 Reasons to Have a Rethink

There is a lot of buzz on hydroponics farming and why it is the next best thing. Many growers claim this method is easier, capital efficient, and requires the least maintenance.

If you’ve already bought into their stories, you might be in for a wasteful venture as hydroponics is far from perfect. It comes with many downsides and might not be the best for a beginner farmer.

why hydroponics is bad

10 Reasons to Have a Rethink about Hydroponics

Here, we will share 10 reasons why you might want to stick to traditional agriculture and other forms of farming rather than jumping on the hydroponics bandwagon.

1. Capital Intensive

One of the biggest problems of hydroponic farming for many growers is the capital involved in starting up. Home growers might not need to spend much if they want to grow a garden as a hobby, however, for large-scale growers, it could come at a huge cost.

Setting up a commercial hydroponics farm would require some costly equipment like HVAC systems, ventilation, fans, irrigation systems, lights, control systems, etc. To get started, you will need to spend on significant resources like land, expertise, labor, etc.

With these requirements, the cost of starting might be double or more of what is required for a traditional agricultural farm.

2. Organic debates

Following the trends, you will find heated arguments about whether Hydroponics are organic or not. The growth style of these plants is the main reason for this debate. This could also affect your sales, especially if you’re in an area where people are averse to eating produce that is not grown in the soil.

3. Better Systems Out There

Hydroponics is not the best farming system out there. While it does reduce water use and reduces the need for pesticides and herbicides, the electrical costs, capital, and other costs of running the system tend to greatly outweigh the benefits on a large scale. If you’re using this system at home, it might be more effective.

4. Technical Knowledge for Commercial Operations

When it comes to hydroponics, the risk of losses as a result of mistakes or inadequate knowledge is high. This is one of the main reasons why many interested in hydroponic farming tend to have a change of heart. If you’re DIY or you’re doing hydroponic farming as a hobby, you can afford to make mistakes as you learn.

When operating a large-scale hydroponics farm such mistakes can cause you to incur losses that you might not be able to recover from and cause you to close the farm altogether.

To get started, you will need to acquire some knowledge and expertise in hydroponics. This will help you to manage a large-scale farm successfully.

5. Limited Resources

Starting a hydroponic farm requires a lot of resources. The first would be a sizeable land or space to carry out commercial hydroponic farming. This is not different from starting traditional agriculture as you would also require a lot of land. You might not be able to find such land in developed cities like New York or London.

From there, you would have to consider labor and the expertise of your hired hands. This could determine if your farm would turn out a success. From there, getting nutrients in a liquid solution comes next. Getting these resources might be tough depending on your location.

6. High Cost of Hydroponic Produce

Hydroponic produce tends to cost a bit more than traditional agricultural produce which could place the farmer at a disadvantage. This makes it harder to compete based on price and value. This challenge is most problematic if you’re a commercial grower.

Hydroponically-grown produce is expensive to cultivate and is not as cheap when compared to conventional farm-grown produce. You should ensure there is a market before starting this farming technique.

7. Environmental or Temperature changes

Environmental factors, temperature, and several other factors are necessary in ensuring the proper growth and survival of plants in general. For hydroponics, this is most critical as these plants will respond faster to these changes.

Changes in nutrient solution or atmospheric conditions could cause permanent damage to plants. This could reduce the quality of the yield or lead to plant death.

8. Risk of Water-Borne Diseases

With hydroponic farming, there is a high risk of waterborne diseases and algae due to the closed hydroponic systems. In most hydroponic systems, all the plants may share the same water or nutrient solution through recirculation.

This system poses a risk as any waterborne pathogen that infects one plant would easily spread to all the other plants immediately. With this, the entire batch of plants can be destroyed.

Algae bloom is also possible in the system and would take away nutrients from the plants while clogging the hydroponic unit at the same time. These failures can lead to plant death and huge losses for the farmer.

9. Constant Maintenance Required

One of the biggest disadvantages of hydroponics farming is the maintenance required to get results out of it. On the large scale, you would have to spend a lot of time checking and monitoring the conditions and performance of hydroponic units to ensure there are working properly.

This can be time-consuming and doesn’t always guarantee a successful hydroponics farm. In many cases, your observations may even be wrong and this could lead to mistakes that could cost you. It is also difficult to perform most of these monitoring tasks effectively in a large-scale hydroponic farm.

10. Risk of Power Outages

Hydroponic farms require constant electricity for them to be effective. The electricity would power your grower lights, sprinklers, air pumps, and various other systems. Power outages in developed countries might not be common, however, disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes would have to be accounted for as they would disrupt the power supply.

In countries where power outages are not a problem, the cost of power bills can add to your production and operational expenses. This will drive your profits even lower.