Whether you decide to use in-ground or above ground containers for your hydroponics system, you’ll need to decide between open and covered designs. Open hydroponics are installed outdoors and take advantage of the free power of the sun to reduce ongoing costs. However, they’re far from perfect on their own. Covered and enclosed hydroponics systems are easy to keep stable, but are still prone to a few issues. Make the right pick between the two options by reviewing their differences.
Exposure to the Weather
The primary reason to enclose or cover your hydroponic equipment is to protect the system from changes in weather conditions. Temperature swings in particular are very damaging to sensitive and heat loving crops. Dips below 55 degrees F can cause tomatoes to drop their flowers and unripe fruit, yet many parts of the country experience temperatures this low at least once over the summer. In addition to buffering temperature levels around the plants, greenhouses built with BTL Liners cover materials keep hail, flying branches, and other storm debris from crushing your crops.
Pest and Disease Pressure
Don’t assume that indoors hydroponics automatically resist disease or pests better than outdoor models. While a greenhouse does create a physical barrier to keep pests away, they’ll reproduce quickly and spread rapidly once inside. You’ll need to follow up with complete pest management systems to keep insects out of the enclosed space to make the most of it. Disease pressure is usually lower in new greenhouses, but most fungal and viral problems can quickly multiply thanks to the warm and humid conditions. Good cleaning and sanitization measures between rounds of crops will go a long way in keeping disease risks under control in an enclosed area.
Evaporation and Splash Loss
Covering exposed deep water culture tanks in particular is important to control the evaporation rate of the water. Quick evaporation drains the water level and increases the intensity of the nutrient solution, which could burn the plants. Covers also keep splashing under control in reservoirs, in addition to loss from animals attempting to drink the nutrient solution that can harm them. While this isn’t enough of a reason alone to invest in a green house cover, it’s a great secondary benefit that slowly reduces water replacement costs over time.
Outdoor hydroponic units are exposed to more direct UV ray than those installed indoors. Even though greenhouse covered systems still receive some amount of sun exposure, the covers used on these structures tend to block some percentage of these rays. If you install pond liners as part of your design, using a covered greenhouse can extend the life of these materials by at least a few years. If you don’t want to build an entire greenhouse, consider at least a frame for holding shade cloth. The partial blocking power of shade cloth is enough to protect sensitive crops from sunburn when weather conditions suddenly shift from months of overcast weather to hot and sunny days.
It’s impossible to heat a hydroponics system unless it’s enclosed. Heating the water and pumping it outdoors will only lead to wasted energy since even insulated tanks will rapidly shed the warmth. If you’re in a temperate to cold climate, you’ll find your growing season far more limited. Enclosing the greenhouse space allows you to install water heaters and furnaces to extend the season or even keep growing year round. This is essential for profitable commercial systems, and it’s still a great benefit for your backyard project as well.
Don’t underestimate the value of enclosing your hydroponics system. It’s easier than you think since BTL Liners also carries reliable and affordable cover material. Check out our selection of both kinds of products to design a complete hydroponics project with our help.