A six-member team works on a 2,000 square feet (sq ft) terrace garden just 3 KM away from HSR Layout, Bengaluru. Here, they nurture nearly 4,000 plants – most of them, medicinal herbs. With patented technology and firsthand experience on the benefits of hydroponics and aquaponics, the Hydrilla team knows that these urban farming methods could be the solution to many food-related problems.
For those of us who are confused between Hydroponics and Aquaponics, Mamatha Kamireddy, the founder of Hydrilla, will guide you through both the methods.
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What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a soil-free base. Instead of soil, the roots are usually immersed in water. The water runs through a set system and a fixed quantity keeps cycling through the system. This way, the urban farmer need not water the plants regularly. Thus, both efforts and water resources get saved in the process.
What is aquaponics?
Aquaponics combines hydroponics with aquaculture. In addition to growing plants in water, it also introduces fish in the system. You feed the fish and the fish waste, in turn, nourishes the plant. This way, you don’t need to fertilise the plants individually.
Hydrilla, the Bengaluru-based organisation, has been working in this field since August 2017. It has also patented a system that eases the work of small aquaponics set-ups.
Hydroponics – as introduced by the Bengaluru organisation:
Mamatha believes that hydroponics is not just a great way to grow your own organic plants but also to make substantial profits. In fact, she says that if more farmers started growing medicinal herbs in a hydroponics set-up, they can easily add to their annual profits.
Mamatha shares some key features of this urban farming method:
- A family of five people can grow sufficient vegetables and herbs by using hydroponics in an 80-100 square feet floor space.
- Depending on your choice of plants, you can stack the plants atop each other to utilise the space.
- The key point here is the choice of plants. Since some plants grow tall, they won’t accommodate other plants. However, medicinal herbs, leafy vegetables allow for this arrangement.
- For the said family of five, an investment of Rs 10,000 can give you a good leg-up. The smallest system that is available can grow about 200 plants in a 60-square-feet area.
- You need to keep giving nutrient inputs to the plant in this method and so, simply buying and installing the system rarely works out for new urban farmers. They need to learn how to operate the hydroponics system well. Thus, workshops and one-on-one sessions are absolutely critical for a successful hydroponics farm.
You can join Mamatha and the Hydrilla team online. Click here to book your slot before the places run out.
Mamatha, who is pioneering Aquaponics in Bengaluru, explains its features as follows:
- This urban farming method is excellent for those who are already rearing or breeding fish. You invest a lot of time and money in the regular cleaning of tanks. But installing an aquaponics system on this tank not only cleans the waste organically but also gives you excellent scope for additional profits.
- Even for those who don’t already have a pisciculture farm, aquaponics is a great option to go for, if you are looking for urban domestic, semi-commercial or commercial farms.
- Aquaponics requires a little more space than hydroponics because you are nurturing symbiosis of fish and plants. If you take the above example of a family of five, about 150 square feet of floor space would be a good start.
- It requires an initial investment of around Rs 60-65,000 for a set-up on 150 sq ft. Depending on what method of aquaponics you choose, you may have to bear annual cleaning, servicing charges.
Learn this and more in the 8-hour online workshop.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)