The world is facing a water crisis, and we don't have much time to solve it. As population levels continue to climb, so does the demand for water. As a result, UNICEF estimates that by 2025, nearly half the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress.
In this article, we explore one of the most promising answers to our global water crisis: hydroponics. Learn what hydroponic technology is, and why it’s the solution to our current water shortages. Additionally, we explore how hydroponic technology is currently being used in Zauben's living walls to optimize the future of plant growth in urban areas and indoors.
The Current Water Crisis
When it comes to our current and projected water levels, the statistics are alarming. Nearly two-thirds of the world's population, or four billion people, endure severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. More than two billion people currently reside in nations with insufficient water supplies, and by 2030, severe water scarcity may force over 700 million people to leave their homelands.
Recently, the Western United States has begun suffering from the worst drought in thousands of years. A combination of poor water management strategies and man-made climate change has resulted in water supplies in Western reservoirs being so depleted that states are now being forced to reduce their water usage.
Sadly, this situation is no different in other parts of the world. As one of the world’s driest inhabited continents, Australia is no stranger to limited rainfall, severe drought, and an increasing water shortage. According to researchers, the country’s river flows are predicted to fall by 10- 25 percent during the next ten years. This will only put further strain on Australia's already-limited water resources as population growth increases demand.
An Ongoing Crisis
Of course, fears of severely low water levels are nothing new. Mentions of water shortages first appeared in historic records as early as the 1800s. Since 1900, more than two billion people have been affected by drought, making it the most common physical danger. During this time, it is believed that more than 11 million people have died as a result of drought.
More recently, in 2018, it was feared that Cape Town in South Africa would become the first modern major city in the world to completely run out of water. ‘Day Zero’ was predicted to fall on May 11 and would result in the government shutting off the water supply to most homes and businesses in the city to conserve the very last drops. Residents were warned they would have to queue at communal water stations under the watchful eye of armed guards to get their daily ration of just 6.6 gallons. To put this into perspective, the average person uses 101.5 gallons of water per day.
Although ‘Day Zero’ was narrowly avoided, this dystopian scenario could soon become a reality for many parts of the world unless widespread conservation methods are adopted.
The Rise of Hydroponic Technology
In a traditional soil-based garden, plants grow in a mixture of dirt and compost. The hydroponic system, however, uses a nutrient solution to feed the plants. The roots of the plant are submerged in this nutrient solution during their growth cycle, which helps facilitate faster growth rates and larger yields than traditional soil-based gardening methods. This is because there is no need for watering or fertilizing your plants. Instead, they receive all of the nutrients that they need in liquid form through their roots.
Surprisingly, hydroponic systems are not a recent invention. In fact, their origins can be dated as far back as 600 B.C.E., to the ancient city of Babylon. It is believed that water from the Euphrates River was acquired through a system of pulleys to sustain the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, despite their dry and arid surroundings.
Hydroponics has many benefits. One of the biggest is that it eliminates the need for soil, which means there are no pesticides or fertilizers needed. Because plants grow in a soil-less nutrient solution, there's also a dramatic reduction in their need for water. In fact, when used in farming, hydroponic systems use 90 percent less water than traditional farming methods do.
Additionally, plants can be grown indoors or outdoors, as hydroponic growth can occur anywhere the climate allows. This is because it doesn't require the same resources from nature as regular soil does. Hydroponic systems also don't require any erosion control measures like with conventional agriculture practices, so they're more environmentally friendly than other types of food production methods.
Living Walls and the Future of Plant Usage in Homes and Businesses
When creating Zauben’s revolutionary Model Z living wall, we couldn’t look past the incredible advantages that hydroponic technology offers. As a result, hydroponics play a key role in our living walls, allowing them to self-irrigate and use 75 percent less water than plants grown in soil.
This also means that no plumbing or drainage is required, as the Model Z holds a one-month watering tank at its base that recirculates water throughout the living wall. As a result, our recyclable hydroponic growth medium is proven to be ten times more water-efficient than soil.
For homes and businesses located within space-restricted buildings with little to no outdoor areas, living walls present a game-changer in adding greenery. By utilizing vertical space and the ease of a hydroponic system, living walls allow everyone to reap the infinite benefits of plants—regardless of where they live or work.
Hydroponic Technology is the Way Toward Better Water Conservation
Hydroponic systems have the potential to conserve water and reduce our carbon footprint. As we move toward a more sustainable future, it will become necessary for us to utilize these strategies in order to ensure that our planet has enough resources left for future generations.
If you’re looking to take advantage of the benefits that hydroponic technology has to offer in your own office or business, consider adding a Model Z living wall. Our living walls can be assembled in less than an hour, fit anywhere in your office, and can be taken with you when you move.
Visit one of our showrooms or request a virtual demo today.