Once a hydroponic system is up-and running, it is fairly cheap to maintain as fewer inputs are needed compared with conventional, soil-based cultivation. For a start, it is less labour-intensive.
As water is recycled, hydroponic systems conserve water by as much as 90% compared to field growing conditions. And because it’s a closed system, with no nutrients leaching into soils, there are good environmental arguments for going down this route.
Nutrient-rich water is pumped, sprayed or dripped onto plant roots in a controlled environment. At Cae Gwyn, the water is pumped along troughs, like guttering, which are raised waist-high on benches- this is called an NFT system (nutrient film technique).
We also grow in containers containing perlite or clay balls – using a drip system.