Grow Rice Hydroponically

How to Grow Rice Hydroponically

Is Growing Rice Without Soil Possible? Use Hydroponics Method

One of the staple diets of India and consumed by the majority of the people in this world, its rice. There are certain regions with specific conditions which favour the formation of rice. However, it’s not an easy process.

Nowadays, with the increasing research in science and technology, plant rice has developed a process. It is called Hydroponics. To explain it, hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture in the agriculture style that involves growing plants in nutrient-filled water rather than soil. 

Since rice grows best in the water clogged paddies and must be fully submerged underwater, this process is ideal. The water is filled with hydroponic nutrients like oxygen, carbon dioxide, hydrogen, etc. This will allow photosynthesis to occur for proper growth and high yield.

What was the need for Hydroponics to grow rice?

The traditional method of Growing rice requires a hot, wet and humid climate. Rice seeds have to be soaked properly and then planted in the water 21-30 days after sowing. Periodically, farmers have to water the plant and undergo weddings.

What was the need for Hydroponics to grow rice

This involves a lot of wastage of freshwater. One kilogram of paddy seed requires 3000-5000 litres of water. On top of that farmers need to go knee-deep in stagnant water for hours to look after their crops. This in turn poses a risk of spreading water-borne diseases to the farmers. In short, the process appears to be very unsustainable.

How Hydroponics serves to be better than traditional farming

  • In the conventional system, for each 100 m2 area of a nursery bed, 1 kg N, 0.4 kg P2O5 and 0.5 kg K2O is usually provided. So hydroponics makes it a space-saving arrangement.
  •  The temperature, light, water, and nutrition can be fully controlled to suitable conditions making the hydroponics nursery highly efficient even with limited water and land area.
  • So hydroponics reduces the need for farmers to deal with pests and weeds.
  • There is controlled growth of crops from the harsh environment ensuring healthier and higher-quality crops.
  • Hydroponic setup is cheap, simplistic.
Set-up of a Hydroponic System

Set-up of a Hydroponic System

The hydroponic system has been made with a very straightforward approach. It comprises the reservoir, pipe and plant strays. The whole system is analogous to a reservoir filled up with hydroponic water. This is continuously pumped to the crops.

The tray, where roots grow, is filled with water. As a result, the roots absorb all the essential nutrients from the water like Calcium, Manganese, potassium without the need for being dug into the soil. Additional nutrients can also be added from organic sources like cow dung, manure. etc.

Different Process of setting up Hydroponic system

There are different types of techniques depending on region to region. However, there is one thing that can be decided upon is using a growth substrate or not. 

What is a Growth substrate?

A growth substance is an inert material capable of providing enhanced support to the roots and stems of plants. For eg: gravel, sand, wood, pumice. ITs a piece of mechanical support per se. However, it isn’t mandatorily needed.

So let’s take a look at the techniques of hydroponics.

What is a Growth substrate

Static Solution culture

Requirement: One of the basic levels and simple to afford hydroponic system is static solution culture. There is a requirement for a reservoir to hold the hydroponic water. That’s it. Nothing else.

 Here even the roots of the plants will be immersed in the same water. In some scenarios, the water level is kept sufficiently low to allow the roots to be exposed to the air.

One drawback of this set-up

It is essential to keep the water stirring for enough oxygen supply in the plants roots. This can be done by some motor that can keep the water in motion (at less rotation per minute).

Continuous Flow Solution System

Requirement: Need for a reservoir and a pipe system.

The pipe system pumps the water again and again. The water doesn’t stay stagnant. It flows through the roots. It is a better solution than the static solution culture owing to the non-constant oxygen supply.

The drawback of this hydroponic system

Additional cost for the pumping system for keeping the water flow constant.

Aeroponics System

Aeroponics System

As the name suggests, here the plant’s roots are exposed to air. So to ensure that roots receive water, water droplets are sprayed with the help of nozzles. The nozzle with tiny openings is preferred as the smaller the droplets, the faster the absorption. Here growth substrate is not needed.

Fogponics System

Fogponics systems follow the same principle as that of Aeroponics systems with the difference that droplets are sprayed by a diaphragm vibrating at ultrasound frequency. Ths the droplets are microspore and easily absorbed, in no time, by the roots

Aquaponic System

The most organic level of hydroponics where nutrients are accumulated from fish excreta. Not everyone prefers this setup. Only fish farmers prefer this. To avoid the wastage of water, water from the aquariums is used here.

Aquaponic System

Passive sub-irrigation

This involves growing the crops inside the substrate. However, the growth substrate is involved in conveying nutrient-rich hydroponic water since it stays immersed in water. The roots of the crop do not come directly in contact with the water. Hence this name.

Ebb and flow hydroponic gardening

Here the crops are cultivated in trays which may be pots or containers. The trays are then connected to the reservoir through pipes that release water into the tray. The water continues to flow and then stops, thus allowing the roots to absorb water. 

After a few minutes, the water is drained and the process repeats.

The drawback of this system

Wastage of water.

Advantages of using a Hydroponics System

Hydroponics provides the solution to the problems faced in agriculture. Especially in the arid and semi-arid nations for providing them with food stability.

Now let’s take a deeper look at what are the advantages of growing rice using hydroponics and how it can be beneficial.

Reduction in water usage:

Plants need enough water to grow so farmers make the use of leeching deep in the ground or the process of evaporation. But by using hydroponics to grow rice, the use of water is eliminated by 90%. That’s quite a lot of difference. Especially when saving water is concerned.

Most of the systems based on hydroponics can monitor the water level accurately. Moreover, in most cases, water is continuously reused, only additional minerals, organic and inorganic are added additionally to the soil. 

This hydroponics system is thus best for areas where there is water scarcity, i.e. in arid and semi-arid areas.

Reduction in water usage

Usage of Space , aridregions,lly.

Hydroponics allow space allocation properly. It can even be grown by setting up vertically or inside a small tent. While sitting in a tent, one must arrange for a lighting space. Thus, however small space is, rice can be grown using hydroponics.

The reason behind this is that the roots want minerals and water to grow, not extra space. Since the space required is very little, maximum production of crops can be carried on while keeping the quality of nutrients intact.

No requirement of soil

Yes, you heard it right. From the beginning itself, we have discussed that hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture in the agriculture style that involves growing plants in nutrient-filled water rather than soil. 

This is possible since plants grow in nutrient-based hydroponic water. Also, they are sometimes put in an inert growth substance where they can get a medium to grow. This helps the growth of rice in many ways. Rice need not be grown in clogged and paddy regions now. 

Even if the area is sandy, rocky or lacks fertile soil, the production of rice, on a sufficiently large scale can still be carried on. People living in such areas will not have to depend on the highest rice-producing regions anymore owing to hydroponics for growing rice.

Hydroponics is free from weeds, pests and diseases

Just think, when soil is not involved, how can the crops get affected by these? Moreover they are monitored and grown in a controlled environment. Since there are no pests or weeds, there is even no need of adding pesticides and herbicides which can cause harm to human health. Thus the crops have a better and healthy yield.

Ability to get accustomed to the climate

Whether indoor or outdoor, the hydropic system remains unaffected. It becomes easy to control the climatic conditions in which the plants are growing. As a result of this controlled environment, the growth is secured in many ways which have been discussed earlier.

Less Labour

To conclude, the hydroponic system for the growth of rice is a very independent system. All the factors are controlled, the only requirement is continuous monitoring and maintenance. This hardly requires a few people only. Human effort is reduced to a great extent as compared to traditional farming.

Less Labour

Not only rice, other plants like tomatoes can also be grown hydroponically, faster and healthier

The reason being:

  • Crops are in direct contact with nutrients
  • Due to continuous monitoring, the water is always in motion, thus allowing oxygen intake.
  • No use of pesticides and herbicides
  • Thus it is a highly efficient process.

What all you should have to grow rice hydroponically at your home

Whether it be rice or tomatoes, or lettuce, the arrangement for hydroponic set up more or less remains the same for all the crops. These are the steps one must ensure to get a perfect hydroponic setup.

  • Picking up a hydroponic setup depending on the budget.
  • Going for some simple hydroponic methods, unlike aeroponic or fogponics that requires a lot of effort. Much technical knowledge is required, thus making it a complicated and costly process.
  • Try buying long-grain brown rice seeds because white rice is processed and becomes difficult to grow. Soak the seeds in water for 36 hours and let them dry for a duration of 24 hours.
  • The use of a growth substrate to provide the environment for the growth of rice in a nutrient-filled environment.
  • You can leave the seeds for up to 2 weeks for germination to occur. However while adding water, before that, a thin layer(2 inches) of soil can be added. Then you can add water up to 6 inches.
  • Ensure to keep a warm temperature for germination to occur fast.(only during germination, a higher temperature is favoured.)
  • After they have formed little roots, shift them to a hydroponic environment and ensure that all the roots are well drowned in the nutrient-rich solution.
  • During this time, you need to ensure 25-degree Celsius throughout. An indoor environment would be preferred rather than a garden, especially when it’s summer.
  • A few people monitor the plant so that the intake of oxygen by the roots can be possible.
  • Finally, leave it for at least 3 months before harvesting.
  • Once they are done, roast the rice stalks in 93-degree celsius continuously for an hour to disintegrate its hulls. Thus, your hydroponic rice is ready for growth.
What all you should have to grow rice hydroponically at your home

Challenges of growing rice hydroponically.

Growing rice hydroponically is loaded with advantages. However, it needs a lot of capital investment. This is because there is a need for buying different equipment (not suited for traditional farming), maintaining the system with time and continuous evaluation.

As a result, it becomes best suited for more expensive crops. For example Lettuce, herbs and strawberries can also be grown hydroponically. But the thing is that they are much more expensive in the market that compensates for the whole hydroponic process. 

But, since rice is a staple diet, it is sold at a very low cost in the market, profits can be made only if rice is produced in a mass environment. Hydroponics as such is designed in a way where mass production might be a bit difficult to achieve. However, with research in the agricultural field, there might be some progress in the future. 

As a result, rice grown hydroponically isn’t commercially available. However, it is grown on an individual basis for domestic purposes. It is expected that with the rising evolution of sciences, the mass production of crops using hydroponics will be feasible and people will switch over to hydroponics rather than traditional farming sooner or later.

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