We have often heard that soil is one of the primary requirements for the plant to grow. So, if someone tells us that soil is not necessary for the growth of plants, it is likely that we would not believe in them. It seems like an impossible task because the soil is an essential element that a plant requires from growth. However, technology has progressed rapidly over time but has it enabled plants to grow without soil?
Do plants need soil to grow?
No, plants don’t require soil to grow. While it is true that some plants grow better in soil, but it is not necessary for the growth of a plant. The plant only derives the nutrients from the soil, and if there is an alternative way to provide the same nutrient, soil loses its purpose as a medium for nutrition. There are several ways in which soil can be replaced with other mediums such as water and air without affecting the growth of the plant. However, these are only suitable for growing plants with shallow root systems as plants with deep or large roots will always need soil to survive in a regular environment.
Various ways to grow plants
So, let us explore the various mediums which can prove to be an effective alternative for soil and ensure proper growth of the plant-
Hydroponics is essentially the use of water instead of soil to cultivate the plants. It uses a liquid medium to supply the plant with the required nutrients, oxygen, and water. While the roots of the plant growing in soil have to keep searching for energy, in hydroponics the nutrients are more easily available. It allows the plant to focus its energy on soil growth and helps produce better growth and higher yields. It uses a controlled environment to ensure that the needs of the plant are precisely met, and the plant remains healthy. However, such a system requires a lot of care and can be expensive to maintain.
Aeroponics means growing the plant using air or mist. It encloses the plant roots in a light-sealed tank, and the nutrients and water is sprayed into the container as mist. It provides better yields and growth to the plant than in hydroponics and is relatively cheaper. However, this technique has not developed on a commercial level and is generally ideal for experimental purposes.
Aquaponics integrates hydroponics and farming into a single symbiotic system. It means raising fishes along with the plants in water. It is a very environment-friendly technology as the fish waste provides the required nutrients for the plants, and the plants in turn help purify and filter the water for the fishes. This technique is widely used at a commercial level and is the easiest technique to adapt. Due to its sustainable nature, plants grown through aquaponics require relatively lesser care.
Thus, these are the techniques that use alternative mediums to grow plants. So, essentially soil is only a medium for providing nutrients, and plants can grow without it.