Our time is tragically being traversed by a series of climate changes that affect the entire ecosystem.
One of the consequences that has become dramatically evident in recent weeks is drought. The very low rainfall that has affected Europe in recent months has so reduced water supplies that we now face an emergency situation.
In agriculture, to respond to the drought, hydroponic cultivation is one of the best solutions we have.
Here's everything you need to know.
In the agricultural sector, drought is causing enormous damage.
Many territories have been declared at risk of desertification, and it is a situation that spans the whole of Europe. Field crops have suffered an average decrease in production yields of about 15 percent: wheat first but also corn, rice and other cereals, vegetables and fruit.
The drought has consequences that also affect livestock: dry pastures and lack of forage are also putting a strain on animals.
Worst of all, this situation looks set to last for years to come. Being a direct consequence of climate change, it is likely that the drought will become constant. Hydroponic cultivation, in this context, assumes enormous importance.
For several years, hydroponic agriculture has been the best answer to the challenge posed by drought and climate change.
It is a highly sustainable farming method that minimizes the consumption of soil and especially water.
Let's see in detail how it works.
This is one of the most interesting aspects of hydroponics.
It is in fact a type of cultivation without soil or above-ground. Instead, a substrate (usually consisting of perlite, sand or expanded clay) irrigated with water and nutrients that make the plants grow is used.
This offers the possibility of growing anywhere, even where there is not the right soil or climatic conditions to grow in the traditional way. In addition, you can grow indoors or outdoors, horizontally but also vertically, to save space.
Thus, hydroponic cultivation responds not only to drought but also to the reduction of arable areas on our planet, which are always decreasing due to climate change.
Even from the etymology of the name, it is clear that this is a system that can harness the power of water: hydroponics is in fact derived from the Greek, where hidros means water, and ponos means work.
With a hydroponic cultivation, water replaces soil: it is as if the roots of the plants are immersed in a solution of water and nutrients. But the real water savings come from drip irrigation systems, rainwater recovery and reuse of water flow: water is in fact collected after the first use and fed back into a new irrigation cycle, so water consumption is minimized.
The ratio in water quantity is estimated to be 10 for traditional cultivation and 1 for hydroponics! It is therefore understood that in times of drought, hydroponic cultivation is a winning answer.
This sophisticated system not only saves soil and water but also provides excellent fruit, vegetable and herb production.
In fact, the plants grow in a highly controlled environment where both pests and diseases from the soil are prevented. Moreover, thanks to the continuous and accurate control of all parameters such as light, temperature, pH and nutrients, plants grow better in terms of quality, quantity and speed.
All this while minimizing (or even eliminating) the use of pesticides.
In this article we discussed which vegetables are best suited for hydroponics.
Artigianfer has always put a lot of effort into the development and design of eco-greenhouses, including, of course, hydroponic greenhouses. Each of our projects is customized in size, structure and systems, but the focus on sustainability and efficiency is always utmost.
Our most relevant work in the field of hydroponic greenhouses is definitely Sfera, the largest hydroponic greenhouse in Italy. It is a high-tech building: 13 hectares of installation near Grosseto, where efficient and innovative hi-tech systems ensure a constant production of vegetables, saving about 90 percent of water compared to a traditional cultivation.
A project that will be the first of many other greenhouses designed for hydroponics cultivation around the world.
After making Sfera, we designed other solutions of different sizes to meet the needs of any farmer and grower. We can make tailor-made projects, starting from the smallest solutions of 1,000 or 2,000 square meters to extra-large hydroponic greenhouses, even larger than 10,000 square meters.
If you want to learn more about Artigianfer's solutions, check out our dedicated page.