As the name suggests, hydroponics is a water-based soilless farming system. Crops are grown directly in water filled with the necessary nutrients plants need, while the roots are supported differently by other materials known as grow media in hydroponics lingo.
As a soilless farming method, the core elements of hydroponics farming are freshwater, root support, oxygen, nutrients, and light. Skipping the need for soil in hydroponics allows for the possibility of growing different plants anywhere, even indoors.
The lack of soil and the possibility of farming indoors offers several advantages, including shielding plants from pests and diseases. Often, therefore, hydroponic farmers never have to use pesticides and herbicides, making hydroponics a healthy farming approach.
On rare occasions, however, hydroponics systems also get attacked by pests, necessitating pest control and pesticide use.
Pests That Could Attack Your Hydroponics Farm
Although hydroponics systems help crops escape most of the problems faced by plants growing in the open field on soil, sometimes they are not so effective, and pests and diseases attack the crops.
The pests and diseases can cripple your plant’s growth and yield.
Some of the most common pests include:
- White Flies
Also known as the Trialeurodes vaporarium, the white fly sucks juices out of leaves, causing them to fall off or have a yellowing effect.
Aphids suck sap from all areas of the plant, producing a sticky honeydew that attracts ants to the plant, which could cause devastating havoc on your plants.
These pests specifically target the unfertilized flower buds causing them to darken and become brittle.
Spider mites suck juices from the plant’s stem. Plants infested by spider mites show through a very fine web on the leaves.
What can you do when your hydroponics farm gets infested with pests?
Is The Use Of Pesticides Necessary In Hydroponic Farming?
Unfortunately, the infestation of a hydroponics farm by pests necessitates using pesticides. If left unchecked, the pests could kill your crop.
Fortunately, you do not have to do anything extreme to control the pests. In fact, some of the pest control remedies available to you are grounded in natural processes or materials. They are, therefore, not harmful to the environment or crop yield.
6 Pest Control Methods for Your Hydroponics Farm
- Insect Control
Also known as the biological technique, insect control involves using other insects as predators to feed on the pests in your hydroponics farm. This method is entirely natural. It, therefore, poses minimal risk to the hydroponics farm and produce.
Insects and fungi are pretty effective when dealing with pests on hydroponics farms. Certain insects produce chemicals that are used to control pests. The chemicals hamper the process of mating in pests, reducing the number of pests generally.
- Essential oils
Essential oils curb pests in hydroponics by suffocating them to death. An example of essential oils used is Neem oil, extracted from the seeds of the Azadirachta Indica tree. The Neem oil clogs the pests’ respiratory system suffocating them to death. Another essential oil commonly used to kill pests is peppermint oil.
- Sticky traps
When monitoring the population of pests in hydroponics, sticky traps come in handy. They not only show the extent of pest infestation of the plants, they also trap tiny insects like aphids and thrips flying free in a hydroponics system.
- Organic pesticides.
Natural products such as soap and pyrethrum are widely used to fight against pests in hydroponics. Also, There is also organic pyrethrin, a natural pesticide extracted from the chrysanthemum flower. They all work by attacking pests’ nervous systems, eventually leading to death.
There is also insecticide soap which kills pests by distracting their cell membranes. The soap is very effective on spider mites, thrips, and white flies, but it does not entirely control aphids. Aphids having a waxy coat on their bodies makes it a tad bit difficult for the soap to penetrate their bodies.
- Nicotine compounds
The nicotine compound in tobacco has been proven toxic for insects and pests, thus making it a very ideal pesticide. Nicotine contains unique ingredients such as Solanseol, which inhibit activity in pests. Nicotine functions by cutting off the growth regulators of insects and disrupting their respiratory system.
- Ultrasonic pest repellant
Prevention is always better than cure. To avoid dealing with pests, one can opt to keep them off their hydroponics farm in the first place by using repellants. Ultrasonic pest repellants scare pests away by emitting frequencies. These frequencies are annoying to pests that perceive the frequencies in the ultrasonic range, ultimately keeping the pests off from the plants.
Although rare, your hydroponics farm can get infested with pests. The best way to keep them at bay is to keep watch and repel them from getting to your farm or getting ahead of them by incorporating preventive methods. To do this effectively, it is essential to know the pests you are likely to experience which is explained above, so you know what way to apply. Hopefully, this is nothing you never have to deal with.