What is A Bioponics System?
A Bioponics System or Organic Hydroponics is different from conventional hydroponics in approach and management. Conventional hydroponic systems replace the soil with inputs such as water, nutrients, and fertilizers to supply nutrients to the plant roots. Bioponics adds beneficial microorganisms and aquatic animal or plant waste instead of these chemical fertilizers.
What’s the difference between how or where the nutrients come from? It’s the difference between defining whether you are growing organically or not. Organic gardening means different things in different countries. To many consumers, it means food grown without unnecessary minerals, chemicals, or pesticides. To regulators, organic means food produced in healthy soil. In some countries, when you grow food with hydroponic systems (grow out of the soil), you cannot get organic certification. In November 2017 the US ruled that growing in hydroponics with organic nutrients gives you organic certification but if you live anywhere else, even if you use certified organic nutrients, your hydroponically grown plants will not be accepted as organic.
If the principles of Bioponics sound a lot like Aquaponics, well, it is, sort of. With aquaponics, the inorganic nutrients are produced from fish waste which is produced after fish consume the organic feed. However, when plants receive the right beneficial microorganisms from herbivore fish such as tilapia and crawfish then they are dependent on fish waste and that is an aquaponics approach, not Bioponics.
A Bioponics System works through a symbiotic relationship between you, the microorganisms, and your plants. The same inorganics are produced, but entirely from microbes derived from plants. Plant-derived organic fertilizers for Bioponics provide a healthier dose of trace minerals, vitamins, hormones, and growth factors to the plant roots.
Pros of using Bioponic nutrients
- Organic certification in the US
- Healthier plants with bigger yields
- When growing entirely with organic nutrients, beneficial microbes will colonize on and around the roots, This aids in biofiltration and improves fertilizing nutrient uptake.
- Plant-derived biomass leachate provides a better balance of nutrients, enzymes, and plant hormones
- No buildup of EC electrical conductivity
- Fewer water changes
Cons of using Bioponic nutrients
- Managing Bioponics needs much more attention than traditional hydroponic growing methods
- Requires additional Filtration, specifically during hot temperatures
- Large PH swings can drastically affect the microbes in your system
- Rarely 100% organic – Even though organics are used, additional mined minerals and chemicals are used to complete the nutrient balance or adjust the PH
- Can no longer use chemical fertilizers
- Requires heavily aeration
- Requires a biofilter to filter out organic carbon
If you are an average home hydroponics lover and grower Bioponics may not be for you. Even though it has some great advantages over traditional hydroponic gardening, Bioponics requires more monitoring and an expansive knowledge of microorganisms. A lot can go very wrong quickly and easily if you are inexperienced.