Growing organically – a goal that many farms are moving towards or have, at the very least, considered. For soilless farms in the US, the contentious issue of organic hydroponics classification remains at the forefront of the industry, with the recirculation of nutrients back into the soil being one of the main issues at hand. Essentially, at the root level, the growing environment is very different. For soil-based farms, creating organics can be done easily. Whereas for soilless farms, this requires substantially more thought and process design behind the systems and inputs that are used. Being able to reproduce standardized, sterile, and a nutritionally balanced microbial ecosystems, similar to what happens in soil, requires more thought when working in a soilless farm. One method that has been mentioned is the incorporation of bioponics.
Bioponics: What Is It?
In a nutshell, “bioponics” covers the full range of activities under soilless farming. In other words, crops can be grown either (1) with their roots immersed or exposed to nutrient solutions such as often observed in hydroponics and aeroponics systems, or (2) within a system that utilizes fish waste as the nutrient, such as aquaponics. What differentiates it is that it takes into consideration the sufficient level of biological activity needed to grow crops by only using chemical-free and organic nutrients. Through bioponics, farms are able to create a symbiotic relationship between themselves, their crops, as well as microorganisms.
Bioponics vs Hydroponics vs Aquaponics
Many hydroponic systems still use synthetic mineral salts instead of organic hydroponic nutrients. This is because conventional hydroponic systems aren’t designed to incorporate biofiltration, lack consistent and renewable inputs, and are without appropriate plumbing to completely support the usage of nutrients sourced from non-synthetic, biological inputs, which in many cases can lead to system clogging caused by communities of microorganisms competing for oxygen and surface area. This eventually leads to biofilm which further challenges a hydroponic system with aggressive pH and electrocondivity variability and a non-sterile system because microbes wish to continue to thrive. As for aquaponic systems, they typically require additional synthetic mineral salts to supplement the micronutrients produced from the fish waste. Many heavy feeding and flowering plants require high levels of minerals which is challenging to produce from fish alone, requiring these farms to use base or acid addition tanks.
When comparing bioponics to aquaponics, both systems begin with a form of organic biomass as the source of its nutrients. For example, fish urine, produce organic biomass after the fish consumes organic feed. With bioponics however, microbes produce the organic biomass by converting it into carbon.
A Sustainable Agriculture Solution for Soilless Farms
Growing bioponically can be done. How do we know? Because through various farm trials, our organic hydroponic nutrient, which incorporates the usage of beneficial microorganisms, has shown time and time again that we can achieve the following:
Water consumption and nutrient usage becomes a fraction of what conventional soilless farms are used to. Through bioponics, there could be the establishment of microbials in the reservoir which farms may want to continually build upon for the health of the ecosystem that they’re growing.
Crops can express its full genetic potential, replicating the biological activity that would happen in a soil-based system, while also producing competitive yields when using synthetic mineral salts.
There will be a large microbial population that will act as a formidable barrier for a crop’s roots, protecting it from pathogens.
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