Hydroponic Farming

What is Hydroponics?

Hydroponics is a method of farming which does not use soil, unlike traditional agriculture. Instead it uses mineral nutrient rich water, in which the roots of the plants sit. The plants themselves sit in a medium such as rock or clay. Hydroponics eliminates some of the barriers which limit plant growth, making the method more efficient.

Advantages of Hydroponics

  • Hydroponics saves up to 90% of the water used in traditional agriculture

  • Easier to test and adjust Ph and nutrient levels

  • Less extensive root structures

  • Up to a 30% increase in fruit production

  • Plants mature 25% faster

  • Saves space

  • Does not require arable land

How Does Hydroponics Work?

Plants in soil have to to expend lots of its resources and energy on an extensive root system to try and encounter the nutrients  and water they need. Hydroponics on the other hand provides the nutrients in ideal quantity for growth and water directly to the roots. With a less extensive root system needed, the plants can devote more energy to producing fruit, leading to the higher production. It saves water due to the fact that it is a closed system, unlike traditional agriculture. Circulating the water in an enclosed system means less loss from runoff or evaporation, meaning the only water loss comes from the plants themselves. The recycling of water means fertilizer only enters the system when the plants use it, saving the runoff of traditional agriculture.

What Type of Hydroponics does Levo Use?

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Levo is currently developing two different types of hydroponic systems.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Nutrient Film Technique is the main type of hydroponics Levo works with. It circulates the water from the reservoir through a cascading system of pipes, providing oxygen rich water to the plants. Levo’s model of NFT is called our Babylon systems. Built from pvc and steel, it is a less expensive method of hydroponic farming. These systems are small, only 5’ by 2’. They are capable of growing a large variety of crops with the correct level of training. Each system hold 16 plants each, a number which would be unsustainable in that small amount of space for traditional agriculture. Pairing the increased production with the restricted use of water, Levo believes our Babylon systems can have an impact on a global scale as water and arable land grow increasingly scarce.  

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Non-circulating (Bucket systems)

The bucket systems remove most of the complexity of hydroponic farming. Levo has recently begun researching the possibilities of non-circulating hydroponics, particularly for more urban settings. Non-circulating hydroponics involves simply placing a plant’s roots in a bucket, which contains all the water a particular plant would need in its growth cycle. The closed system removes the need to circulate the water, trapping the oxygen inside the bucket.

Data Sources

Resh, Howard M, Hydroponic Food Production: A Definitive Guidebook of Soilless Food-growing Methods : For the Professional and Commercial Grower and the Advanced Home Hydroponics Gardener. Mahwah, N.J.: Newconcept Press, 2004

Jensen, M. H. (1997). Hydroponics, HortScience HortSci, 32(6), 1018-1021. https://journals.ashs.org/view/journals/hortsci/32/6/article-p1018.xml. Retrieved Apr 2, 2019