Less Is More
- Describe how recirculation works in a hydroponic system
- Identify ways that vertical farming saves space
Hydroponics is undeniably cool. Universal fact, just Google it. Seeing your first farm wall is all it takes to fall in love with this technology. And the irony is that technologically speaking, hydroponics isn’t really all that “high tech”. Most of the parts are things we’ve seen before like PVC, tubing, emitters, and that loofah thing we call a medium.
But the real magic lies in the ability for hydroponics to change our mindset, to compel us to question the way we’ve always done things. It has opened a dialog for a new kind of farming, one that goes vertical rather than horizontal. One that uses less rather than more. One that recirculates rather than the standard one-and-done.
You see, for all its complexity, hydroponics is simple in its approach and its promise. Use less space and less water to grow more food in more places. What could be simpler than that?!
Tools & Materials
- Tape measure
- Assembled hydroponic tower with lights
- Assembled raised planter
- Square foot
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson by asking Students how the space and water used by the hydroponics and raised planter systems could be measured. Present the ways that water is applied in each system and where it is lost. Can we establish that hydroponics uses less water?
Activity (20 minutes)
Reference the Additional Resource Hydroponics uses LESS space than soil-based agriculture to describe to the Students how many plants each system could hold if the exact same variety was planted in both with the exact same spacing between plants and rows.
Then break students into groups and have them calculate which system uses less space by measuring the footprint of each system. Measure length and then width. Help them calculate the square footage of the footprint as needed. Which uses less space in the Lab?
Discussion (10 minutes)
Are there other advantages to using hydroponics? What are the drawbacks?
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you think that hydroponics takes less space than a soil-based system?
- Now that you have done the calculations, how many of you think hydroponics can grow just as much in less space?
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