What’s the Difference? Aero vs Hydro
There is still quite a bit of confusion between aeroponics and hydroponics in the cultivation industry. This has mainly been due to hydro being the more understood and common growing method of the soil-less growing family. Granted, similarities between aero and hydro exist they are very different growing methods.
In a hydro system, roots are suspended in an enclosed container of flowing nutrient-rich water solution. The roots are completely submerged in water which in turn becomes their growing medium. The rest of the plant is left to grow up and above the root chamber. While the concept for an enclosed root chamber is the same as hydroponics, the growing method is completely different for aeroponic systems. True aeroponic growing systems suspend the root system of a plant completely in the air. The roots receive their nutrient-rich water solution at specified intervals in the form of aerated micro-droplets or fine mist. The roots are never submerged in or by flowing water.
See below for an example of the AeroXPS root chamber. Roots in this device grow freely below the growing nets.
Another important issue in soilless growing that has led to the confusion is mislabeling. Many soilless systems on the market claim to be aero systems but in fact, are not. Most of these systems in question will drip or cascade flowing water onto the roots of plants. These systems inadvertently submerge the roots in a constant stream of water which is not aeroponic but actually hydroponic.
See video below for atomized water and nutrient example.
In an aero system, it has been observed that the roots ability to absorb nutrients performs better. But why wouldn’t completely submerged roots in a hydro system absorb nutrients better if they are bathing in the stuff? A key factor in root growth is the availability of air. In a hydro system, there is less oxygen and carbon dioxide in a water environment than in an aero environment. Abundant oxygen during root growth allows plants to flourish and can even help prevent pathogen formation.
Growing mediums are also a factor in the cause and spread of root disease. Since aero systems do not utilize any growing mediums pathogens have a hard time traveling and causing harm. In hydro systems, this is not the case. Plant roots reside in the same reservoir of water which allows for water-borne diseases to quickly spread from plant to plant in the container. Overall, disease and other contamination can become quite costly, especially on larger scales.
If you are interested in learning about more benefits to aeroponics then check out the rest of the details on our website.