Hydroponics is a contemporary method of horticulture or growing plants, usually farm produce, without using soil. In this way, plants grown hydroponically grow faster and healthier than plants in the soil.
While this technology has promise and is gaining traction, the initial cost of setting up a hydroponic farm, especially in a country like India, is way higher than traditional farming. One needs access to a building like structure at least to regulate the environment and grow the plants, along with food-grade plastic made trays and tubes. The cost of this infrastructure is typically Rs. 50,000 and above per 1,000 sq. ft. High costs are also involved in plumbing system and automation such as sensors, controllers, water pumps, lighting etc. There are additional requirements as well, such as money paid to consultants, costs involved in maintaining ambient temperature, in purifying water, developing manmade plant nutrition like nitrogen, potassium, calcium nitrate, phosphorus and other micronutrients like manganese, zinc etc.
Another key issue is lack of education and awareness among the farming community on all these issues and technological advancements. The knowledge must be technical to the point of micro-managing temperature and humidity. A single fault in maintaining the ambient temperature can lead to major crop losses. A lot of farmers are not even aware about hydroponics, leave alone their execution. The phenomenon is especially apparent when we see that this technology is flourishing mainly in the start-up sector of the young, urban Indian.