If you really want to be on the cutting edge of hydroponic growing, you have to try growing with aeroponics. Aeroponics, combined with the right aeroponics nutrients, can give you growth and yields that are uncommon even in other hydroponics systems. This is because the roots have perfect access to oxygen, moisture, and aeroponics nutrients; everything they need to grow well.
But as with all kinds of hydroponics systems, aeroponics comes with its own sort of challenges, which if not addressed, can severly hurt your chances of growing a successful garden.
Pump Malfunctions - Well functioning equipment is important no matter what hydroponics system you use, but it is doubly important in an aeroponics system. Unlike typical hydroponics systems, which use liquid water to deliver nutrients, aeroponic nutrients are delivered in a fine mist. The box in which the roots are kept maintains a one hundred percent humidity rate. If you suffer some sort of malfunction that causes the pump to stop working, the humidity rate in the root box can drop very, very quickly, essentially cutting off all of the plant's supply of aeroponic nutrients. This is why you should probably invest in some better quality aeroponics equipment and regularly maintain it.
Stopped Nozzles - Aeroponics nutrients, like all nutrients, contain a number of salts and other compounds. Over time, these can build up in the nozzles, clogging them and depriving you plants of the aeroponics nutrients and water that they need to grow well. In traditional hydroponics systems, this buildup can be very gradual, but since the opening of the nozzles is very small in aeroponics systems, it can create a situation where no moisture or aeroponic nutrients are being provided to your plants.
This is why sanitation in very important for all your aeroponic equipment. Just a quick rub with isopropyl should be enough to clear out the nozzles and allow for a steady flow.
Bacterial and Fungal Growth - Bacteria and fungi thrive in damp, warm environments. Unfortunately, this precisely describes the root box of an aeroponics system. Because it has to be kept relatively warm and extremely damp, it is more prone than a typically hydroponics system to developing an unwanted bacterial or fungal infection.
One of the smartest ways to combat this is through simple hydrogen peroxide. A small amount of this compound can quickly kill off all harmful bacterial or fungal infestations. You should be aware however, that this compound will prevent you from using hydroponic supplements that contain beneficial bacteria or fungi. You should also be cautious about using too much, as too heavy concentrations can actually harm your roots.
Problems with the Root Box - Your root box should keep your roots totally enclosed in darkness and not let any of the valuable moisture out or sunlight in. Roots prefer to grow in an environment of perfect darkness, so make sure it is closed off from your grow lights. And any places where the mist "leaks" will just have you wasting valuable moisture and aeroponics nutrients that could better be used towards helping you plants grow.