Soilless gardening offers enormous rewards, including saving the environment and the ability to grow any fruit or vegetable year-round. However, there are 6 types of hydroponic systems, including aeroponics. And you might wonder about aeroponics vs. hydroponics and want to know which one you should choose.
Hydroponics relies primarily on driving a nutrient-rich solution to the roots of plants by submerging them. However, with aeroponics, the plants’ roots are suspended in the air and gently misted or fogged with spray nozzles to deliver nutrients.
In addition, aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air environment without using soil or any medium. Even though both aeroponics and hydroponics require water, they are different and offer various benefits.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about aeroponics vs. hydroponics, their differences, advantages, and disadvantages.
Aeroponics Vs. Hydroponics: An Overview
Both aeroponics and hydroponics offer excellent benefits, and both have disadvantages. Here is a snapshot of the pros and cons of aeroponics and hydroponics compared side by side.
|History||Aeroponics is a more recent innovation originally developed in the 80s.||Hydroponics is a system as ancient as Babylon since the late 19th century.|
|Material Needed||– Reservoir|
– Nutrient Pump
– Misting Nozzles
– Grow Chambers
|Depending on the type of hydroponics system, you will need the following: |
– Grow tray
– Air stone
– Air pump
– Overflow tube
|Cost||You can build a DIY model for less than $250; however, a high-quality professional aeroponics system with automated nutrient monitoring and a backup power supply will cost around the four-figure range.||The primary costs for this would be pretty high—$ 300 to $2,000, depending on several factors such as size, features, and type of hydroponics system.|
|Potential Savings Per Year||It can conserve up to 80% water compared to soil gardening in the United States and over 90 percent worldwide.||It can conserve up to 80% water compared to soil gardening in the United States and over 90 percent worldwide.|
|Growing medium Needed||No||Yes|
|Weeding / Pest Control Needed||No||No|
|Time to Yield||Fast||Fast|
|Grows in||Air environment||Water|
|Light||No||Natural or Artificial|
|Best for||Leafy greens, vine plants, and herbs||Herbs, leafy greens, strawberries, cucumbers|
|Maintenance||Pay special attention to the reservoir and your growing chamber.||Replace Nutrient Solution and Monitor pH|
Aeroponics Vs. Hydroponics: What Is the Difference?
Even though neither growth method uses soil, there are several differences between aeroponics and hydroponics.
The principal difference between aeroponics and hydroponics is that plants grow in a nutrient-rich water solution in hydroponics. While aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air environment without a medium, where plants’ roots are exposed and sprayed with the solution.
Aeroponics is usually coupled with hydroponics, creating a blissful relationship that improves plant yield and turnover rate.
Most importantly, it is far more crucial for you to manage the growing environment with aeroponics, keep a close eye on the temperature and humidity, and maintain timers for your misters.
Without regular misting, plants in an aeroponics setting are more likely to experience dryness and death.
Aeroponics and hydroponics are also different in how you set up your plant. Aeroponics secures plants using exclusive clips, enabling the roots to move freely if necessary. However, if you don’t want to invest in unique clips, you can repurpose old materials such as boards or foam sheets.
Whereas hydroponic systems will typically use an inert medium to hold plants in their position, water rushes over their roots.
You set up your aeroponics system to spray your plants’ roots with nutrient-filled water in a controlled environment without outside variables such as changes in weather.
Check out this short video comparing aeroponics vs hydroponics and more.
What Is The Aeroponics System?
Probably, the aeroponic system is the most high-tech type of hydroponic gardening. Like other hydroponic systems, a timer controls the nutrient pump, except the aeroponic system requires a short cycle timer that controls the pump for a few seconds every couple of minutes.
In addition, with an aeroponics system, you don’t need a growing medium. Instead, the roots of plants are suspended or hung in a dark room and regularly sprayed with a nutrient-rich solution.
Aeroponics is comparable to hydroponics, as neither method uses soil to grow plants, but hydroponics uses water as a growing medium.
Aeroponics is an excellent option for growing plants in small spaces, particularly indoors or in space. And aeroponic growing systems provide clean, effective, and rapid food production, according to NASA.
What Can You Grow With Aeroponics?
There are three principal categories of plants that you can grow with aeroponics:
One of the most critical issues with growing leafy greens in the soil is their prevalence of attracting bacteria and pathogens, such as E. coli. However, with aeroponics, you can suspend the roots and avoid using bacteria for healthy growth.
Leafy greens are the perfect candidate to grow in aeroponics found in the Cornell Small Farms Program research.
Vine plants such as tomatoes do well in aeroponics. You can grow up to six more tomato crops per year with aeroponics than with traditional soil farming.
Other vine plants that you can grow successfully in aeroponics include eggplant, strawberries, and watermelons.
Herbs are also an excellent option for your aeroponic garden. Compared to traditional greenhouses, using an aeroponics system is far less labor-intensive to grow herbs.
Some examples of herbs that do well in aeroponics environments involve stinging nettles, ginger, and mint.
As you can see, with an aeroponic growing method, you can quickly grow some of the most common and delicious ingredients.
How Do You Set Up an Aeroponics System?
To build your Aeroponic system, you will need the following:
- A container (a reservoir) to hold the nutrient solution.
- A submersible fountain or pond pump.
- Watertight container for the growing chamber where your plant’s root systems will be.
- Tubing to diffuse water from the reservoir pump to the mister heads in the growing chamber.
- Controlled growing chamber for the root zone
- Timer and preferably a cycle timer to turn on and off the pump.
- Mister or sprinkler heads.
- Tubing to return the excess nutrient solution to the reservoir.
How the aeroponic system works is a relatively easy concept. First, the roots hang in mid-air to get the maximum amount of oxygen they can get. The high amount of oxygen the roots get helps the plants grow faster than they would otherwise.
Second, the aeroponic system generally doesn’t have growing media. The plants are suspended either by closed-cell foam plugs or small baskets that tighten around the plants’ stems. These foam plugs or baskets fit in small holes at the top of the growing room.
The roots hang down inside your growing chamber, where they get diffused with nutrient solution from mister heads at frequent short cycles. Regular watering cycles provide the plants with nutrients.
In addition, the growing chamber where the roots are should be kept air-tight and light-proof. You don’t need to allow fresh air in the growing chamber so the roots can get plenty of oxygen. Also, ensure water doesn’t spill out and prevent pests from getting in.
Ultimately you want your plants’ roots to get plenty of moisture, nutrients, and fresh oxygen. A well-designed aeroponics system provides a good balance of all three elements to the plants’ roots simultaneously.
Lastly, an essential factor in aeroponic systems is the water droplet size. Plants’ roots sprayed with a fine mist will grow much faster, healthier, bushier, and with more surface area to absorb nutrients and oxygen than roots sprayed with small streams of water, such as from small sprinkler heads.
That also translates into the plant canopy growing more quickly. Also, note that the water droplet size categorizes aeroponic system types.
What Are The Different Types of Aeroponic Systems
There are three main types of aeroponics setups. Choosing the type of aeroponics setup that suits you best is essential.
- Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA)
- High-Pressure Aeroponics (HPA)
- Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics (Fogponics)
Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA) or Soakaponics
Low-Pressure Aeroponics is your best bet if you are building your first aeroponic system because it requires minimal tools and know-how.
All you need to get started is a pump, reservoir, sprinklers, and a closed root chamber platform.
One of the reasons the LPA system is very popular is that it is easy to maintain, particularly since it doesn’t have many parts. It can also work with various plants, letting you quickly grow a different garden.
- Perfect for beginners
- Simple to use and setup
- Suitable for growing various plants
- It will not provide the most nutrients
- It is not perfect for extensive gardens.
While low-pressure systems are the most popular, high-pressure aeroponic systems are known as “true aeroponic” systems. However, they are more complicated and expensive to build.
The high-pressure aeroponic systems take the higher pressure (60-90 psi) to properly atomize the water into a fine mist with a minimal water droplet size allowing your plants’ roots to have more oxygen, ideal for improving plant growth.
People also find that plants will be healthier and hardier with high-pressure aeroponic systems since access to oxygen improves nutrient delivery.
The main difference between Low-pressure aeroponic and high-pressure aeroponic systems is that high-pressure models need unique sprinklers.
Also, high-pressure aeroponics is used in most commercial aeroponics facilities because it is ideal for growing plants faster.
With the high-pressure aeroponic systems, you will also need to invest in a more powerful pump and spend more time setting everything properly.
- Offers Superior root oxygenation
- Efficient and better root nutrition
- Speeds up your plant growth
- Expensive and challenging to set up
- It will require past aeroponics knowledge.
- Best for large-scale ventures
In the ’90s, growing aeroponics would have been sci-fi. Today, it is a reality! Check out this video showing an aeroponics hydroponics system in action.
Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics (Fogponics)
Ultrasonic foggers are most generally used to create visual displays in ponds as well as on stage. And they are often sold around Halloween with Halloween decorations.
With the ultrasonic fogger aeroponics, the water will be atomized to less than five microns, producing a fog rather than a visible mist.
The most important benefit of fogponics is that the small size of the water molecules makes them excellent for young plants. For instance, if you are growing sensitive plants, such as herbs, clonings, and seedlings, you will prefer to use fog to protect your plants’ integrity.
However, ultrasonic fogger aeroponics is one of the most challenging systems to set up, particularly for beginners. And fogponics requires lots of maintenance, such as declogging.
- Perfect root coverage
- Perfect for young plants
- Easy to use for cloning
- Plants roots get a higher concentration of nutrients
- High-priced to set up
- Require aeroponics knowledge
- Requires regular and consistent maintenance
Check out this short video on how Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics (Fogponics) works.
What Are The Advantages and Disadvantages of Aeroponics?
Now that you have a good idea of how an aeroponics system works. After we covered what aeroponics means, including the different types of growing, here are the advantages and disadvantages of aeroponics to help you decide if this system suits you best.
Advantages of Aeroponics System
Below are the advantages of Aeroponics:
Aeroponics System Offers Higher Yields
The most important advantage of aeroponics is that it produces a higher yield of plants. Because your plants will receive an adequate nutrition level, they will more likely grow larger and faster.
If you are growing for commercial purposes, consider aeroponics because it can be worth the investment.
The hardier your plants are, the more resistant they will be to disease, enabling you to reap their excellent benefits longer.
Aeroponics System Uses Less Water
Compared to hydroponics, aeroponics uses fewer nutrients because it is a closed-loop system. Whatever your plants don’t use drops back into the reservoir to be cycled within the system.
Depending on your garden’s size, you might be able to reduce your water consumption to 25% with aeroponics rather than hydroponics.
Aeroponics requires less water and watering since it will re-purpose the amount of water unused by your plants’ roots. And, you will also need fewer nutrients since aeroponics is gently misted rather than washed over the roots.
Also, note that both aeroponics and hydroponics systems are better than traditional soil growing in water conservation.
Check out this article on Hydroponics vs Soil.
Easy and Simple to Transplant
If you decide to move, instead of removing your plants from a growing medium, aeroponics makes it easy. Since your plants are suspended in the air with their roots exposed, transplanting the plants will be effortless. And most importantly, you will be less likely to damage them permanently.
It runs 24/7; therefore, nutrients and water are in constant supply, and your plants will only receive and use what they need when they need it. Therefore, offering you the ability to control the growing climate right for healthy and nutritious plants.
In addition, you can inspect your fruits and vegetables entirely without disturbing them.
Aeroponics System Enhanced Plant Health
Typically, aeroponics is built in an enclosure, preventing contamination of your plants. Also, they are usually located inside greenhouses and are far less likely to be affected by pests.
When gardening aeroponically, try to pay special attention to your growing chamber and reservoir to prevent the possibility of bacterial growth.
By reducing the chances of contamination and bacteria growth, you will create a healthy environment for your plants.
Requires a Small Area to Get You Started
An aeroponics system only requires a small area to get you started, particularly if you choose a vertical grow system.
Disadvantages of Aeroponics System
Like anything in life, Aeroponics has drawbacks. Here are the disadvantages of Aeroponics system.
Aeroponics System Requires Higher Initial Costs
Even though aeroponics is amazingly profitable and advanced, it requires higher initial costs. You will need lots of specialized equipment, such as nutrient solutions, reservoirs, special misters, pumps, humidity controls, and timers.
The high initial costs needed to get started with an aeroponics system can make it a little intimidating, especially for beginners.
Require Regular Checks for PH and EC Levels
Aeroponics systems require regular checks for pH and EC levels. The constant moist environment of the chamber is inviting to bacterial pathogens and fungi, so while you will have less care to provide, you will frequently inspect your aeroponics system to make sure your pH and EC levels are consistent, and the reservoir is fungi bacteria-free.
Aeroponics System Requires Well-defined Timing
The aeroponics system has a learning curve. You need to achieve the perfect timing for all of your misters to make sure that your plants are nourished adequately.
If you don’t regularly mist your plants, you will be most likely experiencing death or dryness. For your first aeroponic, spend a lot of time to ensure that everything is timed perfectly.
In addition, you will make a lot of adjustments depending on your plants’ growth.
Require Knowledge to Estimate Numbers
Aeroponics systems require knowledge to estimate numbers and accurate measurements of plant feeds and any chemicals used, such as hydrogen peroxide.
How To Maintain An Aeroponics System
- Replace the water in the root chamber
- Mix in new nutrient
- Use a dry-erase marker to write the date of your water change outside the root chamber.
- Check your aeroponics system’s fogger disk; it may need cleaning.
- Pay the most attention to the reservoir and keep it clean and dust-free. Your reservoir is the critical area to stay germ-free. Also, keep the irrigation system (piping delivering the water) sterile to prevent high salt build-up that could block nozzles and decrease your aeroponics system’s efficiency.
- If you want to grow healthy and nutritious produce with aeroponics, you need to always remember to sanitize and sterilize.
- Check the root chamber. Everything around your grow chamber needs to be kept clean, dust-free, and free of anything that will encourage any bacteria growth.
- Keep your grow room/area clean and neat (sanitized) to prevent attracting pests in the area or introducing airborne pathogens that could affect your system and plants.
- Sterilize all the components in the reservoir and the tools you use to prevent plant diseases, common pests, or any viruses.
Advantages of Hydroponics
Here are some of the advantages of hydroponics over aeroponics.
Also, check out this article to learn more about hydroponics and its disadvantages and advantages and everything you need to know about hydroponics systems.
Hydroponics Has Lower Initial Costs
If you are fascinated by the world of using water to grow plants, hydroponics is where you should begin. Although aeroponics may sound more exciting; however, it also costs more to set up.
Building an aeroponics system requires using specialized equipment to create nutrient-rich mist, but using hydroponics doesn’t.
With a hydroponics system, you can invest in hydroponic nutrients, add them to your water reservoir, and let your system do the work.
When switching from traditional soil farming, you will find it is a far more cost-effective solution.
Hydroponics Is More Suitable for Beginners
In addition to the low initial costs for setting up hydroponics systems, they are also perfect for beginners.
With aeroponics, you would need to understand the key aspects of growing plants in water, which you can learn with hydroponics. Especially with aeroponics maintenance, you will need to understand the ins and outs of your plant’s needs and system.
Therefore, hydroponics can be a great step toward aeroponics since you will learn the fundamentals of growing plants soilless and in water.
Hydroponics requires very minimal maintenance, especially since you have complete control over the nutrients your plants receive. Also, you don’t need to worry about working with delicate equipment or working with well-defined timers to make or break your setup.
Most hydroponic systems are designed explicitly for recycling water to allow you to have a healthy and sustainable garden.
Hydroponic systems will reuse necessary nutrients for your plants’ growth with significantly lower waste levels. Therefore, there is no need for you to constantly refill the reservoir as long as pH levels and the nutrient remain stable.
Type of Plants
When considering aeroponics vs hydroponics, it is essential to think about what you want to grow. There are several different types of vegetables and fruits that you can grow with a hydroponics system.
Disadvantages of Hydroponics
Hydroponics System Can Make It Easier For Root Diseases to Spread.
Even though your plants aren’t buried in soil, a hydroponics system can make it easier for root diseases to spread.
Because your plants share the same nutrient-dense water, if one of your plants is diseased, the other plants’ roots will also be affected.
In addition, hydroponics can make it almost impossible to find the cause of the issue and might force you to throw all of your plants away and start over again.
Hydroponics Systems Use of Growing Medium
Using a growing medium counts as an extra cost because hydroponic gardens require an inert growing medium to keep your plants.
Additionally, you will need to frequently change the growing medium to ensure it doesn’t affect your plants’ health.
By using aeroponics, you avoid buying growing mediums and save time on maintenance.
Hydroponics Involves Higher Long-Term Costs
When thinking about choosing aeroponics vs hydroponics, it’s crucial to take into account ongoing costs.
The long-term costs and maintenance costs of your hydroponics setup will be very dependent on the size of your garden.
And, keep in mind that it can cost far more to maintain a hydroponics system setup than aeroponics. You will need to account for lots of electricity for various accessories, including pumps and LED grow lights.
Before deciding on aeroponics vs hydroponics, make sure you get your annual energy consumption estimate.
Require Ample Space
When considering aeroponics vs hydroponics, it is essential to think about space requirements.
Compared to aeroponics, hydroponic setups usually require far more space. Since the systems aren’t as functional and streamlined as aeroponics, you will need to dedicate a substantial garden space.
You will also need space to store your growing medium and nutrient-rich water solution.
Aeroponics vs Hydroponics: Which One Is Better?
When thinking about aeroponics vs hydroponics, it is essential to research and determine which system best suits your gardening needs.
You should consider hydroponics if you are a beginner because it teaches you the fundamentals and is less expensive to start. And an aeroponics system produces higher yields and a higher return on your investment in less time.
However, both alternative farming systems offer more significant advantages compared to soil gardening. You can use both to grow your plants without soil, and you will use less water than soil gardening.