Is hydroponic system organic? This is the question that has generated a great debate in many countries. This debate has arisen from the disputed ideas on the meaning of organic produce. In many parts of the world, the system is certified as organic if soil is used a growing medium. However, certain types of hydroponic systems have been certified as organic.
Are there organic hydroponic systems?
As the debate goes on, some growers have decided to produce organic crops in their hydroponic systems. However, this can be daunting because any form of chemicals should be eliminated in organic crops. In this case, the growers have to replace the fertilizer-based nutrients with organic nutrients. Most people who have tried organic hydroponic gardening have faced serious problems that are not present in traditional hydroponic systems. Fortunately, some hydroponic systems have been used successfully to grow organic plants.
Conditions for organic hydroponic system
Growers can grow organic hydroponic plants by introducing some measures, that include;
Suitable systems and growing medium
Aquaponics system is the most effective system for growing organic hydroponic crops. This is the easiest approach, but growers should pay attention of the plant-to-fish ration and the rate of mineralization. It is advisable to start with low-nutrient-demanding plants such as fresh herbs, salad greens, and lettuce. As the rate of mineralization increase, you can move to fruiting plants.
Also, the growers can use a natural growing substrate to produce organic plants. This substrate support a large number of microbes needed to mineralize the organic fertilizer. Also, other organic growing mediums are available at reputable hydroponic stores. The organic substrate should be inoculated before use to allow growth of beneficial microbes. In this system, growers use drip irrigation to avoid over-saturation of the root system of the plants.
EC and pH levels
EC and pH are different in organic hydroponic systems. Most organic nutrients do not conduct electricity; hence EC readings may not show the actual concentration in an organic solution. Moreover, the pH levels in the organic system are much higher than in standard hydroponics. In this case, pH-lowering acids used in conventional hydroponics are not suitable because they are not organic. Therefore, pH is left to stabilize on its own.
For most growers, it is a daunting task to get a balanced organic nutrient source for the organic hydroponics systems. There is a wide range of organic nutrients concentrates on hydroponics stores. Also, it is possible to make organic nutrient solution entirely from waste materials instead of buying bottled products.
A major problem with organic nutrients is that they are not concentrated as salt-based fertilizers. This can lead weak and diseased plants. In this case, nutrient additives such as fulvic and humic acid facilitate the proper growth of organic plants.
Pest and disease control
Synthetic pesticides and fungicides are not allowed in organic hydroponic systems. Therefore, strict measures should be undertaken to prevent the entry of pest into the grow room. Moreover, natural pesticides such as neem oil should be used in organic hydroponic systems.
Running an organic hydroponic system is possible only if some conditions are observed. However, there is big debate whether organic hydroponics crops are genuine.