As new trends emerge, aeroponics vs hydroponics is a frequent topic of discussion. Horticulturists and home gardeners are always looking for the most sustainable, cost-effective, and proactive forms of gardening.
Let’s get into the most exciting features of aeroponics and hydroponics to figure out which is better. Both soilless gardening methods have their pros and cons. This article will compare the differences between hydroponics and aeroponics.
What Is the Difference Between Hydroponics and Aeroponics?
While neither growth method uses soil, there are many differences between hydroponics and aeroponics.
The main difference between hydroponics vs aeroponics is that in hydroponics, plants grow in a nutrient-rich water solution. In aeroponics, roots are exposed and sprayed with the solution.
Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air environment without using a growing medium. Instead, roots dangle exposed. The aeroponics system is set up to spray the roots with nutrient-filled water. All of this happens in a controlled environment without outside variables such as fluctuations in weather.
Even though both tasks require water use, they are quite different from each other and offer various benefits.
Hydroponics relies primarily on delivering a nutrient-rich solution to the roots of plants by submerging them.
With aeroponics, the roots are suspended in the air and then gently misted or fogged with spray nozzles to provide nutrients.
It’s also far more critical for you to manage the growing environment with aeroponics. You have to keep a close eye on humidity and temperature and maintain timers for your misters.
Without regular misting, plants in an aeroponics system are prone to experience dryness and death.
It’s also easy to see how the plant setup for both systems is substantially different. Hydroponic systems will typically use an inert medium to hold plants in their position as water rushes over their roots.
Whereas aeroponics secures plants using exclusive clips, allowing the roots to move freely if necessary.
If hobby gardeners or farmers don’t want to invest in the unique clips, they typically repurpose old materials such as boards or foam sheets.
A great way to understand the critical differences between them is to consider what each can and cannot offer. Often, gardening enthusiasts find that one type of growing system is preferable for their needs than the other. Learn more about aeroponics systems.
What Can You Grow With Aeroponics?
There are several different things that you can grow with aeroponics, but there are three main categories they will fall under generally.
Research from the Cornell Small Farms Program found aeroponics to be particularly significant for leafy greens.
One of the most substantial issues with growing leafy greens in the soil is their prevalence of attracting bacteria and pathogens, including E. coli.
With aeroponics, you can suspend the roots and avoid using for healthy growth.
If you have ever considered planting tomatoes, you know the typical way to plant them is to start in pots and then transplant into soil.
Aeroponics helps make maintaining tomatoes far more straightforward because you can start growing them in the aeroponics chamber.
You’ll find that you can get up to six more tomato crops per year with aeroponics compared to traditional soil farming.
There are plenty of other vine plants that you can successfully grow in this system, such as eggplant, strawberries, and watermelons.
Another phenomenal option for your aeroponic garden is an assortment of herbs. Opting to use this method for growing herbs helps to use significantly less water while cultivating larger batches.
Compared to traditional greenhouses, using aeroponics is far less labor-intensive to apply to these plants.
A few examples of herbs that thrive in aeroponics setups include stinging nettles, ginger, and mint.
Although there are only three primary categories of plants known to do well with aeroponics, there are plenty of species to consider.
You can quickly grow some of the most common and delicious ingredients using an aeroponic farming method.
There are different types of aeroponics setups. Deciding on the type of aeroponics setup you want to use is essential because some could be better suited for your needs.
You’ll be able to choose between Low-Pressure Aeroponics (LPA), High-Pressure Aeroponics (HPA), and Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics (Fogponics).
If you’re starting your first system, LPA is your best bet since it requires minimal tools and know-how. You will need to use a pump, reservoir, sprinklers, and a specially closed root chamber platform.
Most low-pressure systems allow water droplets up to 50 microns to douse the roots with essential nutrients.
One of the LPA system’s most significant advantages is that it is easy to maintain, especially since they don’t have many parts.
This system can also work different plants, allowing you to grow a diverse garden with ease.
- Easy to use and setup
- Ideal for beginners
- Compatible with numerous plants
- Not ideal for extensive gardens
- Will not provide the most nutrients
One of the alternatives to LPA systems is HPA systems or high-pressure aeroponics. With this system, water will be atomized below 50 microns, which is far smaller than half of the width of a human hair.
These small particles allow the roots to have access to more oxygen, which is ideal for increasing plant growth.
You might also find that with HPA systems, plants will be healthier and hardier since access to oxygen improves nutrient delivery.
The main difference between LPA and HPA systems is that high-pressure models need unique sprinklers. You’ll also need to invest in a more powerful pump and spend more time setting everything properly.
Most commercial aeroponics facilities use high-pressure aeroponics since it’s ideal for growing plants faster.
- Superior root oxygenation
- Efficient root nutrition
- Speeds up plant growth
- Costly and challenging to set up
- Will require past aeroponics knowledge
- Ideal for large-scale ventures
Ultrasonic Fogger Aeroponics (Fogponics)
The third and final type of aeroponics is known as fogponics. With this method, the water will be atomized to less than five microns, creating a fog rather than a visible mist. The water molecules produced by the fog are so tiny they are smaller than the size of a red blood vessel.
The most considerable advantage of fogponics is that the tiny size of the water molecules makes them ideal for young plants.
If you’re working with particularly sensitive plants, you’ll prefer to use fog to protect their integrity. You’ll find this system is best for dealing with herbs, clonings, and seedlings.
However, fogponics is one of the most challenging systems to set up, especially as a beginner. You will also be responsible for plenty of maintenance, such as declogging.
- Perfect root coverage
- Easy to use for cloning
- Roots receive a higher concentration of nutrients
- Ideal for young plants
- Costly to set up
- Requires consistent maintenance
- Aeroponics knowledge is necessary
Is Aeroponics Better Than Hydroponics?
Aeroponics can be better than hydroponics in some aspects because of the following advantages and benefits:
The most substantial advantage of aeroponics is that it provides a higher yield of plants. Since plants will receive the highest possible nutrition level, they are likely to grow larger and faster.
If you’re growing for-profit, consider these expensive systems because they can be worth the investment.
Apart from harvesting more ingredients, you’ll also find the roots of plants in aeroponic systems grow better.
The hardier your plants are, the more resistant they will be to disease, allowing you to reap their benefits for longer.
If you ever want to move them, instead of removing your plants from a growing medium, aeroponics makes it easy. Remember, your plants will be suspended in the air with their roots exposed and in clips or another modified component.
Transplanting the plants takes far less effort, and you’ll be less likely to damage them permanently. In the same vein, observing your plants is far more straightforward with the help of aeroponics.
You’ll be able to inspect the entirety of your fruits and vegetables without disturbing them.
Improved Plant Health
Aeroponics is typically carried out in an enclosure, preventing contaminants from accessing your plants. You’ll also find that they are far less likely to be affected by pests since they are typically used inside greenhouses.
When gardening aeroponically, you have to pay close attention to their surrounding environment and reduce the likelihood of bacterial growth.
By eliminating the chances of contamination and bacteria growth, you’ll have far better plant health. Also, you’ll find that keeping the same plants for an extended period will be easier.
Less Water Consumption
Although hydroponics is the clear winner in terms of reusing water, aeroponics consumes less. Depending on your garden’s size, you might be able to use up to 25% less water with aeroponics than hydroponics.
You’ll also require fewer nutrients since it is gently misted rather than washed over the roots.
It’s important to note that both systems are superior to traditional soil growing in water conservation. Hydroponics vs Soil
Is Hydroponics Better than Aeroponics?
Some of the advantages of hydroponics over aeroponics are:
Lower Initial Costs
If you are curious about the world of using water to grow plants, hydroponics is where you should start. Although aeroponics may sound more interesting, it also costs more to set up.
Considering aeroponics requires the use of specialized machinery to produce nutrient-rich mist, hydroponics doesn’t. With hydroponics, you can invest in hydroponic nutrients, add them to your water reservoir, and allow the system to do the work.
There are plenty of DIY methods for building a hydroponics system that you can use to make your hydroponic system at home.
When switching from traditional soil farming, you’ll find it’s a far more cost-effective solution.
Great for Beginners
Apart from the fewer initial costs, hydroponics systems are also ideal for beginners. With aeroponics, you would need to know about the fundamental aspects of growing plants in water, which you can learn with hydroponics.
Also, you have to take the more in-depth aeroponics systems into account.
If you have to do maintenance, you will need to know the ins and outs of the plant’s needs and system.
Hydroponics requires very minimal maintenance, especially since you have full control over the nutrients your plants receive.
You won’t have to worry about working with sensitive equipment or working with precise timers to make or break your setup.
Variety of Plants
When considering aeroponics vs hydroponics, it’s helpful to think about what you want to grow. There are many different types of crops you can grow with hydroponics. Learn about lettuce hydroponics and hydroponic tomatoes.
The majority of hydroponic systems are designed explicitly for recycling water, allowing you to have a sustainable garden. You’ll find that with significantly lower waste levels, your system will reuse essential nutrients for their growth.
This point also shows you don’t have to refill the reservoir as often, as long as the nutrient and pH levels remain stable.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hydroponics?
Even though your plants aren’t submerged in soil and prone to most diseases, hydroponics can make it easier for root diseases to spread.
Since your plants share the same nutrient-dense water, if one plant is diseased, your other plants’ roots will be affected.
This process can make it nearly impossible to find the cause of the issue and force you to throw all of your plants away and start again.
Require Ample Space
When considering aeroponics vs hydroponics, it’s important to consider space requirements.
Compared to aeroponics, hydroponic setups often require far more space. Since the systems aren’t as modern and streamlined as their competitor, you’ll need to dedicate a substantial garden area.
You will also need plenty of storage for the nutrient-rich water solution and growing medium.
Use of Growing Medium
As an extra cost that you’ll be responsible for, hydroponic gardens require inert growing medium to hold plants in place. This item is something else you need to buy and another part that requires maintenance.
You have to regularly change the growing medium to make sure it doesn’t affect your plants’ health.
Also, if the medium washes away, you need to add more throughout the week. It’s merely an extra step you can avoid by using aeroponics.
Higher Long-Term Costs
When considering aeroponics vs hydroponics, it’s important to think about ongoing costs. The long-term costs of your hydroponics setup will be highly dependent on the size of your garden.
With that said, it can cost far more to maintain a hydroponics setup than aeroponics.
You’ll have to consume plenty of electricity for an assortment of accessories, including pumps and LED grow lights.
Before deciding on one or the other, you’ll want to do short calculations to determine your annual energy consumption.
Depending on the types of crops you grow in hydroponics, many will need to be pollinated by wind or insects. If you setup hydroponics indoors, you will have to either grow hydroponic plants that don’t require pollination or hand pollinate yourself.
What Are the Disadvantages of Aeroponics?
Higher Initial Costs
Even though aeroponics is incredibly advanced and profitable, you have to pay far more to set up your first venture. You’ll need plenty of specialized equipment, such as special misters, pumps, nutrient solution, timers, and humidity controls.
The amount of money needed to start an aeroponics system can make it intimidating to beginners.
Requires Precise Timing
It’ll take time to consider the finite details of aeroponics. You must achieve the perfect timing for all of your misters to ensure your plants are nourished adequately.
Plants that aren’t regularly misted on their needed schedule are prone to drying out and dying.
When you create your first aeroponic setup, you will likely have to spend a lot of time making sure everything is timed perfectly.
There will also be many adjustments you’ll have to make, depending on your plants’ growth.
What Is Better: Aeroponics vs Hydroponics?
When contemplating aeroponics vs hydroponics, it’s simple to see which process could be better suited for your needs. As a beginner to gardening without soil, hydroponics is the clear winner since it teaches you the fundamentals and is less expensive to start.
On the other hand, aeroponics produces higher yields with robust plants and a more massive return on your investment in less time.
Both alternative farming methods grow without soil. Overall, both also use less water than traditional soil gardening. They also both can take advantage of vertical space by growing in towers and can be considered vertical farming.
When comparing the benefits and drawbacks of hydroponics and aeroponics, it will be a personal decision. Hydroponics is a type of gardening where plants grow in a water-based, nutrient-rich solution. The plants’ roots grow in the liquid solution.
In aeroponics, the plants grow in an air-based setup, with their roots exposed to carbon dioxide. The plants roots are sprayed with the solution. The water/nutrient misters are set up on a timer.
The advantages of both of these types of gardening in water or in air is the plants can grow in a wide variety of environments, which are much more diverse than soil based gardens.
- Water Pressure Regulator – Here’s What to Know