Soil farming has been considered as one of the most innovative ways of growing crops or plants. It’s seen as the essential way of facilitating farm growth because it inhabits micro and macronutrients, profitable microbes, accurate water, and strengthens the root system, giving support to the stem.
In this article, we will be emphasising soilless farming in Nigeria; the principles guiding it and the techniques that have made it exist till date.
What is Soilless Farming?
This system of farming does not make use of soil in aiding plant growth, development, or harvest.
The essential nutrients are provided to the crops during the growth period, at the right percentage and at the right time, not like the traditional method of using soil, where the crop struggles with weeds for nutrients, sunlight, space, and water.
All these challenges are absent in soilless farming. The fact remains that crops cultured under this system go through fewer pest and disease attacks.
It also saves a lot of water and resources in the process. Soilless farming is already making a lot of ground in Nigeria’s farming system.
Mr. Adebowale Onafowora, who is recognized as one of the achievers of our time, recognized and accepted the urgent need for soilless farming in Nigeria and has trained thousands of students on the techniques and methods of soilless farming.
What Are the Methods of Soilless Farming?
Considerably, there are three techniques of soilless farming in Nigeria. Before deciding to set up this system, there are five indispensable measures that must be achieved so that your crops can survive.
There must be a supply of the right proportion of nutrients at the right time. The level or degree of the needed factors for soilless farming, such as culture and water, must be suitable for the growth of plants.
The essential degree of light needed for the plant to grow and produce oxygen must be available. Putting this into consideration, let’s progress to the techniques of soilless farming:
Generally, hydroponics is considered the act of growing crops without soil. The fact is that hydroponics is the origin of soilless farming before other techniques were developed.
The other methods cannot stand alone without the use of hydroponics. But for easy understanding, hydroponics is defined as the process of providing all the required treatment needed for the growth of the plant in a soluble form during the plant’s watering process.
The nutrients are then combined with water, which gradually supplies water to the plant.
What are the Crops that can be Grown in Hydroponic Farming?
Crops that can be grown in hydroponic farming are mostly vegetables, such as tomatoes. Fruits like strawberries, spinach, and lettuce. Herbs such as mint, chives, and so on.
In this method of soilless farming, the whole plant, including the roots and stems, is suspended in the air. The roots are not covered nor suppressed in any liquid form; they are left the way they are.
The roots of the plants are unprotected and left in a conducive environment where they can derive all their nutrients.
This system is maintained by enriching the needed air with micro-droplets of water. In terms of plant growth, aeroponics is the fastest.
What are the Two Types of Aeroponic Soilless Farming?
There are two types of aeroponic soilless farming: High-Pressure Aeroponics (HPA) and Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA).
Plants are reproduced to a stage by which the root is already enveloped, then the plant is moved to the aeroponic system where it will be provided with the necessary nourishment gotten from the misted nutrient solution.
What Types of Plants are Grown in Aeroponic Soilless Farming?
Almost every vegetable and crop that is grown in a hydroponic system is also grown in the hydroponic system.
This method of soilless farming is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. The waste gotten from the fishes (trout, tilapia,
and carp are commonly used) in ammonia form is then changed by nitrifying bacteria into a nitrite form, which is then changed to nitrate, which is essential for the plant.
As the waste converted proceeds through a hydroponic plant growing medium, it is then filtered because the nutrients available are absorbed as nitrate. Afterwards, the water is allowed to circulate again in the fish tank to be used again.
What are the Benefits of Soilless Farming?
In soilless farming, soil is not required. Light, temperature, air composition, and humidity can be controlled under this system.
This means the climate system can be controlled, making farmers grow food, reducing food insecurity and maximizing profit.
In this system, you will have total control of the needed nutrients and your plants will have easy access to them. Unlike soil farming, plants grown in this system need less water because this system helps with water recirculation.
Since it has come to our knowledge that this system of farming does not need soil to grow, you can cultivate your crops or plants in your home or small environment.
Since soil is not needed in this system, you don’t need to be bothered about weed and pest control because there is no competition with water, light, or air in this system.
This method is always used in a greenhouse system, which helps to reduce the occurrence of pests and diseases.
Since pests and weeds are no longer an issue, the usage of pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides is very uncommon.
The benefits of soilless farming in terms of maximizing profits, provision of food, and reduction of food insecurity are a good reason to adopt soilless farming.
Please note that this system of farming needs the time and commitment of the farmer, and the system method requirements may be high if you adopt the large scale of farming.