Does Hydroponics Use 90% Less Water?6 min read

Hydroponics is often touted as a water-efficient method of farming, with claims that it can use up to 90% less water than traditional soil-based agriculture. But is this claim accurate? In this comprehensive article, we will explore how hydroponics works, the mechanisms behind its water efficiency, and the evidence supporting the claim that hydroponics uses significantly less water. By understanding the principles and benefits of hydroponics, you can determine if this method is right for your farming needs.

Understanding Hydroponics

Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in water. The roots of the plants are supported by an inert medium such as perlite, vermiculite, or coconut coir. This soilless approach allows for precise control over the growing environment, leading to faster growth rates and higher yields.

How Hydroponics Saves Water

Recirculation of Water

One of the primary reasons hydroponics uses less water is the recirculation system. In traditional farming, a significant amount of water is lost through runoff, evaporation, and deep percolation. In hydroponics, water is recirculated within the system, minimizing waste. This closed-loop system ensures that water is reused multiple times, significantly reducing the total water requirement.

Reduced Evaporation

Hydroponic systems are often set up in controlled environments such as greenhouses or indoor grow rooms. These environments can be optimized to reduce water evaporation. Additionally, the use of covers and mulches can further minimize evaporation from the surface of the growing medium.

Precise Water Delivery

Hydroponic systems deliver water directly to the plant roots, ensuring that plants receive the exact amount of water they need. This precision reduces water wastage that occurs when water is applied to the soil surface, where it may not reach the roots efficiently.

No Soil Water Holding Capacity

In traditional farming, water is often lost due to the soil’s water holding capacity, which can lead to water seeping deep into the ground beyond the reach of plant roots. Hydroponics eliminates this issue by using inert growing mediums that do not retain water, ensuring that all the water is available for plant uptake.

Evidence Supporting Water Savings in Hydroponics

Several studies and real-world applications support the claim that hydroponics uses significantly less water than traditional farming. Here are some notable examples:

Scientific Studies

  1. University of Arizona Study: Research conducted by the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center at the University of Arizona found that hydroponic systems use up to 90% less water compared to traditional soil-based systems. This study highlighted the efficiency of hydroponics in water-scarce regions.

  2. NASA Research: NASA has been exploring hydroponics for growing food in space. Their research has shown that hydroponic systems can reduce water usage by up to 98% compared to conventional methods, making it a viable option for long-term space missions.

Commercial Applications

  1. AeroFarms: AeroFarms, a commercial vertical farming company, uses aeroponic systems to grow leafy greens. Their system uses 95% less water than traditional field farming and 40% less than hydroponics.

  2. BrightFarms: Another commercial example, BrightFarms operates greenhouse farms that use hydroponic systems to grow fresh produce. Their systems use 80% less water than conventional farms.

Benefits of Water Efficiency in Hydroponics  

Environmental Impact

Reducing water usage in agriculture has significant environmental benefits. Agriculture is one of the largest consumers of freshwater, and efficient water use in hydroponics can help conserve this precious resource. Additionally, the reduction in water usage can minimize the environmental impact of agriculture, including reduced runoff and soil erosion.

Cost Savings

Water-efficient hydroponic systems can lead to substantial cost savings for farmers. Lower water usage means reduced water bills, which is particularly beneficial in regions where water is scarce or expensive. The savings can be reinvested in other areas of the farming operation, such as improving infrastructure or expanding production.


Hydroponics contributes to sustainable agriculture by using resources more efficiently. Water-efficient systems can help mitigate the effects of drought and water scarcity, ensuring food production remains stable even in challenging conditions. This sustainability aspect makes hydroponics an attractive option for future food security.

Challenges and Considerations  

Initial Setup Costs

While hydroponics offers long-term savings, the initial setup costs can be high. Investing in quality hydroponic systems, grow lights, and climate control equipment requires a significant upfront investment. However, the long-term benefits and savings often outweigh these initial costs.

Technical Knowledge

Operating a hydroponic system requires a certain level of technical knowledge and expertise. Farmers need to understand how to monitor and adjust nutrient levels, pH, and other environmental factors to ensure optimal plant growth. Proper training and education are essential for success in hydroponic farming.

Energy Consumption

Hydroponic systems, especially those used indoors, can consume a significant amount of energy for lighting, climate control, and water circulation. It is essential to balance water savings with energy consumption to ensure the overall sustainability of the farming operation.

Recommended Hydroponic Systems and Products

To maximize water efficiency and achieve the best results, investing in high-quality hydroponic systems and products is crucial. Here are some top recommendations:

  • NuAqua Systems
    NuAqua Systems offers advanced reverse osmosis systems that ensure clean and balanced water for your hydroponic plants. Their systems are designed to remove contaminants and provide pure water, crucial for maintaining optimal plant health. Discover NuAqua Systems for reliable water filtration solutions.

  • Lettuce Grow Farmstand
    The Lettuce Grow Farmstand is an excellent self-watering and self-fertilizing vertical garden system. It is perfect for both indoor and outdoor use and allows you to grow a variety of crops effortlessly. Using filtered water with the Farmstand can significantly improve plant health and yield. Shop the Farmstand to find the perfect size for your needs.

  • Growace Complete Home Kit
    This comprehensive grow kit from Growace includes everything you need for a successful indoor hydroponic setup. It features high-quality grow lights, a tent, a ventilation system, and all necessary accessories. Using filtered water with this system can enhance performance and plant growth. Check out the complete kit to start growing your plants indoors efficiently.


Hydroponics is indeed a water-efficient farming method, capable of using up to 90% less water compared to traditional soil-based agriculture. The recirculation of water, reduced evaporation, precise water delivery, and elimination of soil water holding capacity all contribute to this significant reduction in water usage. Scientific studies and commercial applications further support the claim of hydroponics’ water efficiency.

By adopting hydroponic systems, farmers can not only conserve water but also achieve higher yields, faster growth rates, and more sustainable agricultural practices. While there are challenges such as initial setup costs and energy consumption, the long-term benefits make hydroponics an attractive option for modern farming.

For those interested in maximizing water efficiency and exploring the potential of hydroponics, investing in high-quality systems and products is essential. With the right approach and proper management, hydroponics can provide a viable solution for sustainable and efficient food production.


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