At Wasabi Crop Research, we develop methods to grow hydroponic wasabi and a broad range of Japanese herbs.
Hydroponic wasabi is known as Sawa Wasabi and is grown in a controlled environment using a variety of nutrients in different systems. This allows for the optimisation of plant growth through an integrated control system.
Hydroponics is defined as a subtype of hydroculture and is used to grow plants in a soilless medium – which is essentially an aquatic-based environment. All the nutrients that the plants need to develop are dissolved in the water at a specific electric conductivity (EC) value. This EC value is the salt concentration in your substrate or the nutrient solution.
Types of hydroponic systems
Deepwater Culture (DWC) is a reservoir method and is the simplest hydroponics system on the market. The plants are suspended in a nutrient solution and an aquarium air pump is used to oxygenate the nutrient solution to prevent the root from drowning.
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponics system that is based on a continuous flow of nutrient solution over the plant roots. This type of system is slightly inclined to allow the nutrient solution to flow under gravity and allow the plant roots to absorb more oxygen from the air than the nutrient solution. In this set up it is important to have only the root tips to come into contact with the nutrient solution. This allows the plant to optimise the use of oxygen to aid faster growth.
The Drip System provides a slow feed of nutrient solution to the hydroponics medium.
Aeroponics systems, allow the roots of the plants to be misted with the nutrient solution while they are suspended in the air.
Growing wasabi without soil
A medium is required to help the plants grow by supporting and transporting the nutrient solution to the root of the plant.
Types of medium include:
Expanded clay aggregates: these clay pebbles are stable to the pH of the nutrient solution.
Lava rock is a porous stone that is chemically inert. This material is mostly used in ebb and flow hydroponic systems.
Rock wool is also known as mineral wool and does not have any nutritional or pH value. Rock wool can aid the transport of nutrient solution to the root of the plant.
Perite is a light weight volcanic rock that can change into glass stone when exposed to heat.
Other mediums include vermiculite, sand, gravel, coir among others.
The importance of nutrients
The aim of the nutrient solution is to provide food for the plants in order to help them develop and grow.
The nutrient solution is an essential part of the hydroponics system. These nutrient solutions are dissolved in water and should contain traces of the following elements:
|Nitrogen||Essential for the production of leaves and stems for growth|
|Phosphorus||Required for the development of fruits and flowers|
|Potassium||Helps plant cells take up energy during photosynthesis|
|Sulphur||Used by plants to increase the effect of phosphorus and assist in the production of the plant’s energy cycle|
|Iron||Essential for the production of chlorophyll|
|Manganese||Helps in the absorption of nitrogen|
|Zinc||Required by the plant to enable energy transfer|
|Copper||Used in the production of chlorophyll|
|Boron||Probably aids the growth of the plant|
|Magnesium||Plays a vital role in the process of transporting phosphorous around the plant’s system|
|Calcium||Helps the plant to absorb potassium and is needed for good root growth|
|Chlorine||Required for photosynthesis|
|Molybdenum||Involved in numerous chemical processes within the plant|
Benefits of growing hydroponic plants
- You can place hydroponic systems anywhere subject to the requirements of the plant.
- They only use 5% of water in comparion to soil-based gardening.
- It is a sterile environment for plant growth.
- Does not include harmful chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides.
- Plants can grow faster in hydroponic systems.
- More control of nutrients.
- Crops can grow throughout the seasons.
- There are no weeds.
- Hydroponic systems are environmentally friendly.
- Plants have a longer shelf-life due to better nutrition.