Anyone who grows plants regularly has a deep appreciation and love for the environment, so when we hear something is good for the world, we get interested.
When I started looking into hydroponics, I was attracted to the unique growing style of a soilless medium and its indoor capabilities.
But when I read about its benefits for the climate and land, I was hooked.
Today, I want to answer the question, How is hydroponics good for the environment? and hopefully, convince you to check it out.
Hydroponics is a better and more popular growing method to protect the environment. It helps by:
- Using less space and land
- Reducing the need for fossil fuels for transportation
- Prevent chemicals from seeping into the soil
- Using less water overall
- Removing the need to terraform
- Avoiding pesticides altogether
Look ahead for an explanation of these eco-friendly reasons and other benefits of using hydroponics.
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Are Hydroponics Eco-Friendly? 6 Powerful Reasons
While there is some debate, it’s mostly settled in the growing community that the positives of hydroponics for the environment outweigh the negatives by quite a bit.
The people who most struggle with it are those reluctant to change and money invested in the traditional farming system.
Here are the main reasons hydroponics is eco-friendly.
Uses Less Space And Land
The more earth we can leave alone, the better off it will be.
With hydroponics, we don’t need nearly as much space to allow plants to grow.
They don’t need to develop as long root systems as the nutrients and water are given to them directly.
Experts estimate hydroponics use 1/5 of the same plant’s space in soil.
This reduces space usage by 80% for the same amount of plants.
So this benefit helps out with commercial farming as well as with amateur gardening as well.
We have a decent lot at our house, but there’s only so much room. Hydroponics has opened up a whole new level of space for us to use.
On top of the space reduction, it goes on top of any type of land. You don’t need good growing soil.
Plop it right over some forest floor!
Reduces Fossil Fuel Needed To Ship Food
Sending food all over the country and world from a few agricultural areas costs quite a bit of money, but it burns a lot of fossil fuels in transportation.
By encouraging others to grow hydroponically (which is easier for the average person), we reduce the need for shipping crops.
This saves on gas and the environment.
The saving of space part also helps here.
Areas with less land (or poor land) to grow on can do so with hydroponics, diversifying the agricultural centers and shortening the transportation distance.
A win-win if there ever was one.
No Chemicals Seeping Into Soil And Groundwater
One of the worst parts of soil growing for the environment is chemicals to help the plants grow.
Even if the chemicals are safe for humans, they mess with the local plant and animal life.
The chemicals seep into the soil and then into the groundwater and underwater tables with rain and watering.
Fertilizers and other disease treatments are important for keeping outdoor plants healthy, but they don’t belong in the rest of the soil.
Unfortunately, with traditional growing, there’s no way to prevent it.
For one, the water is in a closed system. It’s completely contained.
You probably won’t need to use chemicals for growth anyway as the nutrients are delivered directly through the water.
Less Water Overall Is Used
It may seem to go against logic, but hydroponics use less water than soil growing does.
How is this possible? After all, you need a lot of water for hydroponics, right?
Yes and no.
Water used in hydroponics doesn’t go to waste. It keeps getting cycled or exposed to the roots (depending on your system).
No water seeps out in the ground because it’s not in the ground!
At the most, you’ll get rid of a quarter of your water each water change.
Soil-bound plants need a lot of water too, but every time you provide some, much of it seeps away into the rest of the ground.
All in all, experts hypothesize most hydroponic systems will use only 10% of what a similar soil-based one will.
Removes The Need To Terraform
Hydroponics doesn’t need to change the ground (as we discussed before).
One of the harshest aspects of commercial farming is how it changes swaths of land from before.
Hydroponics doesn’t affect the land at all.
Many hydroponic growers will use greenhouses or simply put their systems on top of the ground.
Of course, you would have to change the land to make a greenhouse, but it isn’t as drastic as completely digging and churning the soil of a huge land area.
No Pesticides Needed At All
Hydroponics are easily grown indoors or in greenhouses.
When this happens, it’s entirely protected from bugs and pests.
This removes the need for any pesticides at all.
With no pesticides, your yield is safer, and the environment is richer for it.
Note: Outdoor hydroponics not in a greenhouse are still subject to pests, though a good portion of them won’t be able to get at them.
Even without pesticides, most plants will do just fine.
What Are The Benefits Of Hydroponics?
Hydroponics is great for many gardeners, from complete beginners to more experience.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re growing; these 6 benefits will positively impact your experience.
Of course, the benefits for the environment are awesome too!
Bigger Plant Yields
Scientists, farmers, and gardeners alike all have seen the same thing:
Hydroponic plants produce more and faster than in soil.
This is because of the water’s direct and efficient nutrient delivery system.
The plant gets the nutrients faster and is protected from the environment, producing at a record pace.
There’s no way to predict exactly how much better a hydroponic plant will do, but the average is somewhere between 10-50% more crop or larger.
As we mentioned above, you use less water in hydroponics.
This benefits the environment, your time, and your wallet (especially if you live in an area where the cost of water is high!).
In hydroponics, you only refill the water when you need to, so the plant tells you what it needs.
You Grow It!
There’s something to be said about growing what you eat or enjoy.
It always tastes so much better, and there’s a certain sort of pride that comes with it too.
You also know exactly where the plant came from and what went into it, so if you’re worried about chemicals or producing crops more organically, you know every little thing that’s touched the plant.
Less Space Used
Saving space is great for the environment and most gardeners.
Not everyone has a ton of space. We were fortunate enough to move out in the country where we now have an acre of land to grow things on.
But when we were in the city, we barely had enough to grow some flowers, let alone any edible plants.
Hydroponics save space and give you vertical room to use too.
All in all, this is one of the strongest benefits of hydroponics.
Not As Much Mess
I HATE messes for someone who keeps quite a few animals and loves to garden.
Hydroponics removes the soil and dirt of potted plants inside (and it always seems to get everywhere too).
When messes happen, all I need to do is wipe up the water, and we’re good to go.
Works In Any Environment
No matter where you are, it’s possible to make hydroponics work (and pretty easily too).
Whether you build a little greenhouse or keep it inside, hydroponics opens up gardening to anyone, and this is why it’s such a growing trend.
Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter; hydroponics is versatile and adaptable to any situation.
Why Is Hydroponics Bad For The Environment?
I scoured forums and asked experts why this may be bad for the environment, and I found no consistent answers.
The only common one involved large growth systems of careless owners.
In this case, doubters of hydroponics said people dump their nutrient solution into the soil, which is bad for the environment.
They also said the electricity needed for the lighting and air conditioning to keep the air temperature down in their greenhouses is bad.
Yes, these may be bad, but the truth is, it’s much less than what traditional soil growing pollutes.
The nutrient solution being wasted isn’t bad for the soil as long as it’s spread around.
Dumping it in one spot in high amounts will raise the salt and EC levels, making nearby plants nutrient-locked and blocked from absorbing nutrients.
Read more about this in our article on using hydroponic nutrients in the soil.
This is also fixed with flushing of the soil using fresh, untreated water.
Another thing I noticed is that the people who complain of hydroponics are also either resistant to change, involved heavily and financially in the traditional growing method, or people who deny human’s impact on the earth.