It is often seen that farmers face barriers while growing plants. The climate, right amount of water, season etc. play important role in the plantation. These barriers can become obsolete if the farmers need not have to worry about climate or soil conditions. What if we tell you that there is a solution that can eradicate this. Well, the answer to this problem is HYDROPONICS!

What is hydroponics? As the name suggests, you guessed it right it involves water (hydro). It is a method in which plants grow without the soil and are supplied with essential mineral nutrient solutions with the help of water. Did I just state out loud that plants can be grown anytime irrespective of the season and other conventional factors like soil, sunlight etc, without any natural distraction?

Why should one think of a hydroponic setup and ditch the traditional way of growing plants? To answer this question, the below-mentioned advantages are sufficient to understand how a hydroponic setup can reap your benefits.

Advantages of Hydroponic Systems
• It provides extra oxygen to the plants that nurture the root, which directly leads to faster nutrient absorption.
• The nutrients are sent to the root system directly, which doesn't happen when plants are grown conventionally (in soil).
• Controlling the nutrient intake won't let any nutrient deficiency.
• Controlling all the growth factors like sunlight, water, nutrient supply can help in pest and bugs control.

How to make Hydroponic Solution at Home?

You can make a hydroponic solution at home in two ways. One way is to buy the premixed nutrients. Another way is to mix your nutrients. Most people prefer making the hydroponic solution at home because it offers flexibility and is more economical.

Mostly, people prefer to buy the hydroponic solutions at home as it offers flexibility and is also cost-effective. Even you can make your hydroponic solution at home in two ways. Either you buy the pre-mixed nutrients or buy them separately and mix them.

The following steps can help you make hydroponic solutions at home

1. Buy the nutrients
You should make the base first and for that, you need to buy nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium etc. in the form of salts so that you can mix them with water to make a solution. These nutrients in the form of salts will break down and provide nutrients to the plant. Here are the quantities you should use. • 2 tsp of ammonium phosphate • 4 tsp of magnesium sulfate • 4 tsp of potassium nitrate • 4.5 tsp of calcium nitrate • Calcium and magnesium carbonates are also common ingredients

Why do we need nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and calcium? They supply essentials like - nitrogen and sulphur provides proteins and amino acids. Phosphorus and calcium stimulate plant growth and photosynthesis. Nitrogen and magnesium provide chlorophyll, likewise, potassium and magnesium provide starch and essential sugars.

2. Use clean water
RO water is important! The hard water contains minerals and salts that might imbalance the salt proportions in the solutions. That way, there won’t be any dirt or unwanted contaminants. In an ideal case, you should put 10 gallons of water into the buckets

3. Mix the salts with water properly
You should add the nutrients in the form of salts into the water. Note, you need to add one type at a time and mix it well. Make sure that the solution is kept away from the sun and shake it well so that there is an even distribution of the salts and it mixes well in the water. Voila! This way you will create the macronutrient solution

4. Add micronutrients
Now as your macronutrient is sorted similarly, micronutrients should be catered prudently. In another container add 1 litre of water and mix 0.25 tsp of boric acid and 0.1 tsp of manganese chloride and stir it well. Then take half a cup of this micronutrient solution and mix it with the macronutrient solution. In a separate container add 1 litre of water and add 0.5 tsp of chelated iron. Add 3/5 cup of this formed micronutrient solution to the macronutrient solution. The micronutrients are needed for the growth of the plant. Boric acids, chlorine, manganese, iron, etc. are called trace elements.

Trace elements (or trace metals) are minerals present in living tissues in small amounts. Some of them are known to be nutritionally essential. They function primarily as catalysts in enzyme systems; some metallic ions, such as iron and copper, participate in oxidation-reduction reactions in energy metabolism. Iron, as a constituent of haemoglobin and myoglobin, are also crucial in the transportation of oxygen.

5. Adjust the pH level After the solutions are ready and mixed well, you need to make sure that the pH level is between 5.5 to 6.5. If it’s more than 7.0, then it’s alkaline, and you will have to reduce the pH level.

Adding vinegar to the mixture helps to reduce the pH level. If the pH value is less than 5.5, then the solution is too acidic and you can add baking soda to adjust the pH level.

6. Adjust EC level
After you have adjusted the pH level, you should adjust the electrical conductivity. It is the ratio of nutrients to that of water. The EC must be between 0.8 to 3.0. In most cases, 1.5 to 2.5 works fine. If the EC is too high, you should add more water to bring the EC down. When all the nutrients are added in correct propositions then you are ensured good yields in number. The plants should receive adequate light too. The plants are healthy and remain intact with essential nutrients equal or more in nutritive value. With practice and right assistance, you will be able to make the hydroponic solution at home.

Sanket Jiwane