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Controlled-environment agriculture (CEA) is any agricultural technology that enables the grower to manipulate a crop’s environment to the desired conditions. CEA technologies include greenhouse, hydroponics, aquaculture, and aquaponics. Controlled variables include temperature, humidity, pH, and nutrient analysis.
Other related terms: Indoor Farming, Microfarming, home hydroponics, personal hydroponics, Aquaponics, Aeroponics & Hydroponics, Smart Planter, Personal Home Grow Systems.
A Windowfarm is a hydroponic urban gardening system that was originally developed by Britta Riley using open-source designs. A Windowfarm is an indoor garden that allows for year-round growing in almost any window. It lets plants use natural light, the climate control of your living space, and organic “liquid soil.”
Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel.
Aquaponics /ˈækwəˈpɒnɨks/, is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
In the Western world, modern aquaponics, with pumps etc only started in the 1970’s and only got popularized in the 1990’s.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium (known as geoponics). The word “aeroponic” is derived from the Greek meanings of aero- (air) and ponos (labour). Aeroponic culture differs from both conventional hydroponics, aquaponics, and in-vitro (plant tissue culture) growing. Unlike hydroponics, which uses a liquid nutrient solution as a growing medium and essential minerals to sustain plant growth; or aquaponics which uses water and fish waste, aeroponics is conducted without a growing medium. (not in citation given) Because water is used in aeroponics to transmit nutrients, it is sometimes considered a type of hydroponics.
Further explanation: What is Aeroponics, and How it is Similar and Different to Hydroponics.
|Growing Medium With Hydroponics: With the hydroponic system of growing, plants are placed in a growing medium such as coconut husks, perlite or clay pebbles. A nutrient rich solution flows through the airy planting medium and provides food for plant growth.||Growing Medium With Aeroponics: The aeroponics system does not utilize any growing medium. Plants are suspended in a dark enclosure while a nutrient dense solution is sprayed on the roots at certain intervals.|
|Advantages of Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems allow gardeners complete control over nutrient delivery. Plants that grow hydroponically have much greater energy efficiency than plants grown in soil. Many hydroponic systems recycle water, which greatly reduces waste. In fact, hydroponic systems use as little as 10 percent of the amount of water needed by conventional growing methods. Hydroponic gardening uses no herbicides or pesticides, and such gardens require very little space and are not dependent on growing seasons, as they use artificial light.||Advantages of Aeroponics; Since plant roots are isolated and there is no planting medium, plants that are grown with an aeroponic system will have the opportunity for maximum nutrient absorption.|
|Disadvantages of Hydroponics: Because the nutrient solution is passed between plants, it is possible for water based disease to travel rapidly between plants. Also, hydroponic systems, including aeroponics, rely on electricity and require costly generator back-ups to cover for power outages. Hydroponic systems can be very costly to set-up, due to the nature of the equipment involved. However, once you have the system set up it is cheaper than a traditional garden to operate.||Disadvantages of Aeroponics: Aeroponic systems are very sensitive and require constant attention to pH an nutrient density ratios. Aeroponics is a difficult system for beginners to understand and should only be attempted by those who are advanced and familiar with such systems.|
While all three can be implemented in a raised garden, all three are very similar in every way except hydroponics and aeroponics require the addition of fertilizer and there is no fish in the nutrient solution. In aquaponics, plants and fish live a symbiotic life with the fish feeding the plants, and the plants cleaning and filtering the fish’s environment.