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Is Aeroponics Better Than Hydroponics?

Aeroponics and hydroponics are methods of growing food without soil. Historically, hydroponics has been used more extensively for irrigation in both commercial and residential settings, as aeroponics requires much newer technology and more experience. Both systems provide nutrients that plants normally can access through the soil by adding them to an aqueous solution - how those solutions travel to plant roots is the difference between the two systems.

Fog Liquid

In a hydroponic system, plant roots are immersed in nutrient-rich water. However, there's a chance the roots will become waterlogged and starved of oxygen — like overwatering a houseplant can drown them. Growing plants in waterlogged soil can also result in lower yields.

With aeroponics, plant roots are suspended in the air and irrigated with a nutrient-rich mist. This mimics the natural air pockets in a healthy soil system and increases plants' access to oxygen and other atmospheric gases. This can improve root health and plant growth rates, with significant yield increases seen in a number of crops.

It's also worth noting that aeroponics may use less water - up to 30% less than hydroponics and 95% less than outdoor growing, due to less evaporation from the growing medium built into the system and less water overall. It also eliminates the need for mineral wool, reuses the fiber insulation many systems use that are difficult to manage safely and recycles energy efficiently.

Pests and Diseases

There are other benefits of a well-aerated root zone that you will find in an aeroponic system. Plant roots hung in the air and mist was applied directly to the roots. This keeps the growing medium dry, meaning the plants are less susceptible to infection or fungus. The use of UV sterilization and filtration in the water reclamation and reuse process also ensures that the chances of pest or disease outbreaks are minimal.

In a hydroponic system, bedding and beds are more difficult to clean because water seeps through the growing medium to irrigate the roots. The combination of water and artificial light increases the likelihood of growing algae in hydroponic beds, which can sometimes bloom uncontrollably.

Proper Irrigation

In an aeroponic system, irrigation can be controlled from field to field. As opposed to saturating plants by flooding them with water, misting can be applied in very precise amounts and over a period of time, offering a greater degree of control than you'll find in a hydroponic system. Because in hydroponics, plant roots are submerged in large amounts of water which cannot be easily manipulated.

In aeroponics, the rate of exchange of water, nutrients and gases provided to the plants can be adjusted per bed — meaning you can change what is given to the plants based on their individual needs and adapted to the stage of development of the plants.

Cultivation Costs

One of the biggest advantages of a hydroponic system is that it is easier to use and set up your own system. For this reason, they are often found in lower-cost, low-performing home planting kits or garden arrangements. Since no additional components are required to produce mist, the energy and capital costs for a hydroponic system are also lower in absolute terms.

Nozzles are used in most aeroponic systems to create mist - they often clog and break. Because of this, they are not as widely used as one might expect given the mining benefits they offer. In response, LettUs Grow has developed a unique nozzle system that simplifies traditional aeroponic systems and reduces maintenance. We strive to combine all the benefits of aeroponics with the simplicity of hydroponics.

Aeroponic systems can be much more profitable due to their higher productivity, which speeds up your growing cycle: faster growing reduces labor and energy usage per kg and thus is more financially efficient. However, both aeroponic and hydroponic systems require business modeling to ensure that the crops you wish to grow are commercially viable in your market. With vertical farming, higher priced crops such as microgreens and herbs need to be grown in both systems to yield high profit margins, while larger crops such as tomatoes or strawberries are profitable in greenhouses.

Aeroponics vs Hydroponics

Deciding whether to use an aeroponic or hydroponic system will depend on what you want to grow, the cost of your product, and the market you choose. However, because aeroponics gives plants a stronger, healthier root system, it has a much higher yield potential than traditional hydroponic systems. Hydroponic systems can be easier and less expensive to install, but are generally less effective after the first year of growth. So while it may be suitable for certain systems, aeroponics offers many other advantages for large-scale commercial growers – from container farms to greenhouses.

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