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Hydroponics vs Soil-Based Farming: A Look into the Microbiological Hazards

Updated: Mar 15, 2023

Hydroponic farming has been growing in popularity in recent years, but scientific studies shed light on the potential risks associated with this form of farming. In a study conducted by Burch et al. (2018), the microbiological hazards of hydroponic products and systems were examined, and the results were eye-opening.

The study found that hydroponic systems have an increased risk of pathogen outbreaks, compared to traditional soil-based farming. This is due to the fact that hydroponic systems are reliant on water to deliver nutrients to the plants, creating an environment where harmful bacteria can thrive. Pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria are some of the most commonly found contaminants in hydroponic systems.

While hydroponic systems do sometimes offer higher yields, it is important to recognize the potential risks associated with this form of farming. If proper sanitation and maintenance practices are not followed, the risk of pathogen contamination can increase significantly.

It is clear that the presence of soil can improve plant health. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that soil-grown strawberries had significantly higher levels of antioxidants and other important nutrients compared to hydroponically-grown strawberries (Olsson et al., 2004). Soil-based agriculture has been shown to have a greater diversity of beneficial microbes, which can improve soil health and plant growth (Fernández-González et al., 2019). These findings highlight the importance of soil health in producing nutrient-rich crops and promoting human health.

At Garden Stack, we believe in the benefits of soil-based farming, and our innovative olla irrigation system is designed to provide a simple and effective way to water your plants. By using our system, you can rest assured that your plants are getting the water they need, without the risk of pathogen contamination associated with hydroponic systems. There is no learning curve or risk with Garden Stack. It's the same principle as a plant pot, but with automated irrigation.

While hydroponic farming may seem like an attractive option, it is important to recognize the potential risks associated with this form of farming. In particular, it might not be as well suited as other solutions when it comes to small scale, carefree home farming. If you're looking for a carefree and effective way to grow your plants from home, soil-based farming is the way to go.


Burch, T. R., Gundersen, S. R., Machado, E. B., & Williams, R. C. (2018). A Review of the Microbiological Hazards of Hydroponic Products and Systems. Journal of Food Protection, 81(9), 1446-1458.

Fernández-González, A. J., Cardinale, M., Clipson, N., & Doyle, E. (2019). Effects of hydroponic and soil-based cultivation on microbial diversity and community composition in lettuce. Microbial Ecology, 77(4), 928-939.

Olsson, M. E., Gustavsson, K. E., & Vågen, I. M. (2004). Antioxidant levels and inhibition of cancer cell proliferation in vitro by extracts from organically and conventionally cultivated strawberries. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 52(5), 1248-1255.


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