Using Hydroponics for Agricultural Innovation
Agriculture in Africa has made considerable advances, as well as introducing new crops. It has also been expanding its market for products including cereals, vegetables, fruits and flowers. Along with this, another significant evolution has occurred that many Africans should take advantage of.
On top of the developments, there are some new approaches to existing practices that can be adopted to increase agricultural productivity and efficiency. One of these is an applied science known as hydroponics or aquaponics. The methods have been gaining popularity among farmers in Africa and have helped them achieve significant agricultural output despite severe constraints.
Farming in Africa is focused on crops that require long growing seasons. With this in mind, farmers in places like Angola, Cameroon, and Nigeria cultivate a diverse range of crops, particularly those that need to grow long and drought-free periods. Crop rotation is one of the best ways of ensuring that crop growth doesn’t disrupt the soil structure or overall water supply. This helps increase productivity, hence improving yield per hectare.
Rice is the staple food consumed by most African communities. This crop requires the highest yield per acre. Growing rice and other plants with hydroponic farming in South Africa provide many farmers with an opportunity to extend their growing season, thereby increasing yield per hectare. This type of farming has become increasingly popular due to the increased yields associated with such practices.
Hydroponic farming in South Africa takes place under a closed system with sufficient light, moisture, and temperature to support plant growth. This is achieved by using both nutrient-based and biological systems to feed the plants. This is achieved through the utilization of fertigation and aeration, which include applications of nutrients to the top of the growing medium, as well as air within the reservoir system, both of which are crucial to plant growth.
Irrigation is usually conducted during the day when the reservoir system is running at full capacity, whereas during the night, when water levels fall to a minimum, the nutrient-rich reservoir solution is drained away from the plants. Since the reservoir is usually cleaned in between, the water remains clean enough to feed the plants. Also, water levels can be monitored and reduced to suit planting needs.
Aside from traditional crops like corn, potatoes, and beans, herbs and vegetables are also commonly grown. Hydroponic farming in South Africa allows producers to use fresh herbs and vegetables, reducing pesticide usage. Crops like maize, vegetables, and herbs have proven to be highly profitable when grown in hydroponic farming.
Crop rotation and planting with maize are one of the key practices used in hydroponic farming in Kenya. Farmers plant different crops during the dry season to provide an alternate source of nutrition. The different crops provide a variety of nutrients that will keep the soil healthy and produce sufficient production in dry seasons. This practice helps decrease the risk of soil erosion.
Tomatoes and cabbage, as well as other vegetable crops, also benefit from the extra light provided by hydroponic technology. Irrigation of vegetable crops is also necessary as it increases production and decreases losses from runoff. This practice also provides quality assurance for plant nutrition and helps prevent pest problems.
Utilizing a design that includes a series of reservoir system vents reduces the farmer’s ability to direct the airflow to the plants. Instead, air remains near the plants, which further helps them to grow longer. More heat is generated than necessary and losses are lower with hydroponic farming in South Africa.
In South Africa, plant maintenance is necessary after harvest to ensure healthy growth and disease resistance. Once the plants are harvested, they are immediately transported to the farms and fed with specially formulated fertilizers. As the plant dries, it also undergoes pest control and soil inspection and attention to improve yield per hectare.
Hydroponic farming in South Africa benefits farmers with the high yields and high-value of the product, as well as the minimal requirements for labor and equipment. This form of farming is one of the fastest growing segments of the agricultural industry and is set to continue its upward trajectory. in Africa and elsewhere.