Have you ever heard about soilless farming in Nigeria?
Do you understand what it is all about?
Soilless farming is a system of farming that does not make use of soil in the growth and development of plants or crops.
For most people, soilless farming seems to be some sort of uncharted territory. That’s probably because they have not been well acquainted with the idea or the benefits.
We will be talking about soilless farming, its benefits, the different types of soilless farming, practicing soilless farming in Nigeria, and how to get started.
The system behind soilless farming is that the same nutrients present in the soil are pre-mixed into a water reservoir and delivered to the plants efficiently alongside increased levels of oxygen.
Benefits of soilless farming in Nigeria
• Decreased water usage: in soil-based systems, only a minimal amount gets to the plant roots. This results in the wastage of water and nutrients. However, soilless farming uses at least 90% less water compared to soil-based farming. For example, to grow 1kg of tomatoes using soil-based or intensive farming, a farmer needs about 214 liters of water while in hydroponic system, only about 70 liters is required. As a result, farmers can control the nutrients and also opt out of using chemical fertilizers.
• Protection from weeds and pests: plants grown hydroponically are shielded from weeds, pests, diseases and insects. This allows for optimal growth and increased yield.
• Shorter growing season: Hydroponics farming offer a great advantage to farmers who struggle to earn an income due to long wait time between planting and harvesting in traditional farming. This is because, in soilless farming, the growing season is greatly shortened so harvesting can be done more frequently.
• Uses remarkably less space: soilless farming allows for expansion and increased yield which is crucial for meeting the ever-growing food needs of our country. This allows traditional farmers to set up their hydroponic farms on small plots of land. Including those that would have been unusable in soil-based farming.
• Requires less labor: in the hydroponic system, labor intensive activities like tilling, weeding, fertilizer application, herbicide and insecticide application are absent. Thus, it offers lighter load for farmers and reduces the manpower necessary. This helps to cut down on the cost of production and also gives room to pursue other interests.
• Yields higher quality of food: for foods like vegetables and fruits, they are better when fresh. However, with regular soil-based farming, it is difficult to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. But soilless farming contains its own nutrients so these crops can be grown anywhere all-round the year and be enjoyed fresh and ripe.
• Certainty and seasonality: in hydroponic system, the farmer controls the conditions. So, seasons has got nothing on the farmer. He can grow his crops all year round.
Types of soilless farming techniques
Whether you decide to practice soilless farming in your backyard or commercially, there’s a technique that suits you perfectly. Let’s delve into these techniques one after the other.
In this system, the same nutrients in the soil that aid the growth and development of crops are pre-mixed in a soluble solution and applies to the soil when watering.
Different structures like trays are required to hold the water solution or what is referred to as the growth media. There are two methods involved in the hydroponics system:
• The solution or liquid culture: Here, the plant roots grow directly into the solution that has been pre-mixed with nutrients.
• The aggregate method: here, a medium which could be cocoa peat, pellets or gravel are used and the plants grow into the medium.
As a farmer, irrespective of the method you employ, three ingredients must not be lacking: Water, Nutrients and Oxygen. Crops grown hydroponically include most vegetables and fruits such as tomatoes, strawberry and spinach.
This involves the merging of aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, snails, prawns in tanks) with hydroponics. In this system, the nutrient rich aquaculture water is used to grow the plants hydroponically while the plant roots filter the water for the aquatic animals. The aeroponics system works thus: the fish (especially carps, trouts and tilapia) produce ammonia and waste which allows nitrifying bacteria to spread on the water surface. These bacteria convert fish date to nitrites and eventually nitrates which serves as food for plants.
In this method, the plants are left uncovered in the air. They’re not grown in a nutrient solution. Instead, they’re left exposed in a conducive environment with micro-droplets of water where they get all their nutrients.
Soilless farming in Nigeria can be practiced effectively and successfully. We see that it has become well spread in the country and many have started enjoying the untapped potential of the hydroponics system. Nigeria makes for a perfect place to practice soilless farming because the system is most suited for tropical climates like Nigeria’s.
Soilless Farming Training in Nigeria.
Reach out to soilless farm lab Abeokuta by clicking on the link below