The increasing population and urbanization have led to a decline in the arable land, globally. According to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, about 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas as of 2018, and that figure is expected to grow to 68% by 2050. Considering the overall growth in population, up to 2.5 billion additional people are expected to be added to urban areas by 2050. Hydroponics is the technique of growing plants with water and nutrients without the use of soil. This technique makes use of containers or specially designed benches with troughs to enable the suspension of plants in water. The hydroponics market is estimated to be valued at USD 8.1 billion in 2019 and is projected to reach USD 16.0 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12.1% during the forecast period.
The liquid hydroponics systems segment is projected to have the fastest growth rate during the forecast period. In this system, no rigid supporting medium for the plant roots is used. Liquid hydroponic systems can be effective for fast growth and large yield since plants have direct access to oxygen and food in the form of functional mineral compound. These systems are most preferred in the developed countries for crop production and have huge growth potential in the future. Moreover, systems such as DWC and NFT have been studied for application in hybrid farming, combining aquaculture with hydroponics. Being compact in structure, these systems can be easily stacked vertically to support a vertical farming system.
The Asia Pacific hydroponics market has strong potential to become the leading market in the coming years. The region has also been susceptible to the effects of climate change that have had a profound impact on agriculture produce. The increasing instances of droughts, floods, and other natural disasters in countries such as India, China, and Japan have raised concerns over food security. This has spurred the adoption of indoor hydroponic agriculture in the region. China is projected to be the fastest-growing market for hydroponic farming in the region and has displayed notable growth potential. Not only in Asia Pacific but globally has the growth in hydroponics market been observed, with the increasing investments in this market. For instance, Larry Ellison, the founder, chairman, and CTO of Oracle, launched a hydroponic farming start-up named Sensei in Los Angeles, which plans to build 10 greenhouses covering 200,000 square feet on the Hawaiian island of Lanai. Also, Future Farms based in Chennai, India, has developed effective and accessible farming kits to facilitate hydroponics. Also, there are new technological innovations tapped by start-ups that can further propel the growth of this market.
Development of innovative hydroponic technologies
With the increased adoption of hydroponics globally, manufacturers and researchers are working on improving the efficiency of hydroponics technology to increase the quality and quantity of the produce. For instance, Preferred Produce, an organic and kosher greenhouse in Deming, New Mexico, introduced a new patented technology that combines hydroponics with aeroponics. It was developed in partnership with Russian scientists. This new patented technology includes a large plastic urn filled with water and includes tubes for circulating oxygen. This new technology was introduced due to the restricted supply of oxygen when plants are submerged in oxygen in a hydroponics system. Thus, by introducing oxygen supplying tubes, sufficient oxygen can be supplied to the plants. The producer tested this system with strawberries, tomatoes, and bell peppers, and the results showed faster and hardier harvests as compared to other techniques.
Phytoponics, a UK-based hydroponics growing system company, introduced a similar technology called the Hydrosac, in which roots of the plant are held in contact with an oxygenated, nutrient-rich solution. The concentration of liquid nutrients facilitates high growth rates and resource efficiency. The Hydrosac acts like a long thin container connected to a pump and nutrient solution reservoir. Sitting on the fluid’s surface are integrated flotation chambers in which plants sit within a healthy, rot preventing air gap above water. An inbuilt aerator blows oxygen bubbles through the solution to maintain dissolved oxygen levels for healthy roots. The bubbles burst at the surface, spraying a nutrient-rich mist on to the plant roots, nourishing the plant to grow strong.
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The Purdue University is working on a mobile app that can give information on plant health through images clicked through phones. The university uses imaging stations that can take high-quality data, and along with further research, calibration and algorithms designed for the mobile application. The plant size can also be calculated through pictures clicked through this application and can generate a growth curve of the plant, thus giving complete information on plant health. The university is also developing instruments that can measure the nitrogen levels in the plants through a mobile application for smartphones, which otherwise is done using costly equipment. Thus, such applications can be used by many independent growers at cheaper rates. Thus, these advanced technologies pose an opportunity for the growth of the hydroponics market in the future.
The hydroponics market is divided into two segments-system input providers and hydroponic crop producers. The key players in the hydroponic system input providers market include Signify Holdings (Netherlands), Argus Control Systems (Canada), Heliospectra AB (Sweden), Scotts Miracle Gro (US), American Hydroponics (US), and LumiGrow (US). The key players in the hydroponic crop producer market include Aerofarms (US), Terra Tech Corp (US), Hydroponic Farms (UAE), Triton Foodworks Ltd. (India), Urban cultivator (Canada), Village Farms (Canada), Green Sense Holdings (US), and Iron Ox (US).
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