Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics

Main Difference – Hydroponics vs Aeroponics

Hydroponics is a widely-used technique in agriculture that allows the growth of crops on different types of water-based techniques. Aquaponics and aeroponics are two types of hydroponics. Growth medium is supplied to each type of water-based systems to supply essential nutrients to the crops. In aquaponics, a combination of fish and bacteria are used to supply nutrients to the crop plants. Hence, organic nutrients are used in aquaponics. However, in hydroponics and aeroponics, chemical nutrients are used for the growth of plants. The main difference between hydroponics and aeroponics is that hydroponics includes different ways of cultivating plants in water whereas aeroponics is the cultivation of plants by supplying nutrients in the form of a high-pressure, nutrient-rich mist.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Hydroponics
      – Definition, Characteristics, Types
2. What is Aeroponics
     – Definition, Characteristics, Benefits
3. What are the Similarities Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms: Aeroponics, Aquaponics, Frogponics, High-pressure Mist, Hydroponics, Nutrients

Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics - Comparison Summary

What is Hydroponics

Hydroponics refers to the cultivation of plants without using soil. It is also called water culture or soilless culture. All the nutrients required by the growth of the plant are dissolved in the water that is used for the system. Different types of hydroponic systems can be identified as aeroponics, aquaponics, deep water culture, ebb and flow system, nutrient film technique, and Wilma systems. A hydroponic system is shown in figure 1.

Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics

Figure 1: Hydroponics

In hydroponics, plants are cultivated in net pots or trays filled with a chemically inert media. The main function of the medium is to hold the plant. The types of media can be sand, clay pellets, perlite, rock wool or gravel. Aquaponics is a type of hydroponics in which a combined fish waste systems are used to produce organic nutrients with the help of bacteria. The lower maintenance of the system is the major benefit of hydroponic systems. However, the set of the system may be expensive.

What is Aeroponics

Aeroponics is the process cultivating of plants by exposing their roots to air. In aeroponics, a high-pressure, nutrient-rich mist is used to feed plants, providing more balanced water, nutrients, and oxygen supplements to the roots. Roots require oxygen for better absorption of nutrients. This method is also known as frogponics. An aeroponic system is shown in figure 2.

Main Difference - Hydroponics vs Aeroponics

Figure 2: Aeroponics

Generally, aeroponic systems are efficient and clean. They can produce high yields very quickly. However, the lighting systems for crops can be expensive. Aeroponics is used in the NASA space station to grow plants.

Similarities Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics

  • Hydroponics and aeroponics are two techniques in agriculture that are used to cultivate crops without soil.
  • Both hydroponics and aeroponics use chemical nutrients for the growth of crops.
  • Both hydroponic and aeroponic systems are stable and produce high yields.
  • Both hydroponics and aeroponics are very efficient systems.
  • Both hydroponic and aeroponic systems are successful indoors or outdoors.
  • The damage from pests to the crop is less in both hydroponics and aeroponics.
  • Lower water levels, as well as lower nutrient levels, are required for the growth of plants in both hydroponic and aeroponic systems.
  • Plants can be cultivated throughout the year in both hydroponics and aeroponics.
  • The systems of both hydroponics and aeroponics are easy to maintain.

Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics

Definition

Hydroponics: Hydroponics refers to the practice of cultivating plants in nutrient-rich water without soil.

Aeroponics: Aeroponics refers to the cultivation of plants where the roots are exposed to air.

Significance

Hydroponics: Aquaponics, aeroponics, etc. are types of hydroponics.

Aeroponics: Aeroponics is a type of hydroponics.

Roots

Hydroponics: Roots of the plant are exposed directly to nutrient-rich water.

Aeroponics: Roots of the plant are exposed to a nutrient mist several times per hour.

Amount of Water Used

Hydroponics: Hydroponics requires a considerable water supply.

Aeroponics: Aeroponics requires a very low water supply.

Outages

Hydroponics: Plants are less subjected to outages in hydroponics.

Aeroponics: Plants can be easily subjected to outages in aeroponics.

Holding the Plant

Hydroponics: Chemically inert media are used in hydroponics to hold the plant.

Aeroponics: In aeroponics, foam sheets, plastic clips or boards are used to hold plants in place.

Medium

Hydroponics: Chemically inert media such as sand, clay pellets, perlite, rock wool or gravel are used.

Aeroponics: No medium is used in aeroponics.

Types of Plants

Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems can be modified for all kind of plants.

Aeroponics: Olive and citrus plants are cultivated by aeroponics.

Advantages

Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems require low maintenance. 

Aeroponics: Aeroponics is an efficient and a clean method of cultivation.

Disadvantages

Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems are somewhat expensive.

Aeroponics: Aeroponics systems have to be established indoors.

Conclusion

Hydroponics and aeroponics are two methods of crop cultivation without soil. Hydroponics is an umbrella term that consists of various methods of water-based systems for the crop cultivation. In both types of systems, nutrients are provided along with water. Hydroponics is the cultivation of crops in water-based methods while aeroponics is the cultivation of plants by providing water and nutrients in the form of a mist. Therefore, the main difference between hydroponics and aeroponics is the method of providing water to each type of system.

Reference:

1. “What is Hydroponic growing?” Growth Technology, Available here.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Greenhouse, Organic, Farming, Hydroponic, Cucumber” (CC0) via Maxpixel
2. “Flickr – Government Press Office (GPO) – Aeroponics at the Satariya Settlement” By Government Press Office (Israel) (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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