An artificial nutrient bath for growing plants. The nutrients pumps must work continuously; the plants will die if power is cut.
- Building – Production
- Path Cost
- 1 ˣ 4
- pass through only
- Cover Effectiveness
- Blocks Wind
- Terrain Affordance
- -70 W
- Required Research
- Skill Required
- Construction 4
- Work To Make
- 2,800 ticks (46.67 secs)
A hydroponics basin is a production building that provides a highly fertile area for growing crops fast and in areas that otherwise would not support them.
Hydroponics basins can be constructed once the Hydroponics research project has been completed. They require 100 Steel, 1 Component, 2,800 ticks (46.67 secs) of work, and a Construction skill of 4.
A powered hydroponics basin acts as a terrain with 280% soil fertility, twice that of rich soil. The exact speed boost depends on the Fertility Sensitivity of the plant in question. For example, rice gets the full 280% effect, while potatoes won't benefit nearly as much.
Hydroponics basins are placed on the ground, and work both indoors and outdoors. In order to function, they require 70 watts of power, day and night. This is absolutely critical, as when unpowered, its plants will wither very quickly. They can't be uninstalled, only deconstructed for half their value as usual. Each basin has a cleanliness value of -3, making a large hydroponics farm a very "dirty" prospect. They do not short circuit in the rain.
Hydroponics only provides soil fertility, so all other plant growth conditions must be met. This isn't a problem in the growing season while outdoors, but in order to regulate temperature, you must grow indoors, under a mostly complete roof, and use buildings like a heater. The sun lamp is required to provide light in the absence of sunlight (due to the roof). Note that standing lamps aren't suitable for crop growth: plants require at least 51% light, while standing lamps provide a maximum of 50% lighting and do not "stack".
Colonists will automatically plant only 1 type of plant per basin. By default, this is rice. The following plants can be grown in hydroponics basins:
Pollution underneath does not lower the fertility of hydroponics. However, most plants will rapidly die if the terrain becomes polluted, even in a basin. Only psychoid plants and toxipotato plants can grow in a basin under pollution. Of those, only psychoid receives any appreciable effect. (Toxipotatoes have a fertility sensitivity of 0%; they grow no faster in hydroponics than they do in the ground).
Hydroponics are most useful if you have limited fertile grow space - whether your colony is inside a mountain, or in an extreme biome like a desert or ice sheet. If there's plenty of fertile soil, then hydroponics can be useful, but more limited in scope.
In terms of yield, 1 tile of hydroponics is equivalent to 2.8 tiles of regular soil. Since soil is free, it is usually more cost effective to plant in more soil (when available) rather than build hydroponics. Once cost doesn't matter, hydroponics can be used in any biome to save space and therefore walking distance. See #Indoors for more analysis.
Not all crops may grow in hydroponics. The following plants can't be grown in a hydroponics basin:
Power is absolutely critical to use, as plants will quickly die without it. It is recommended to have batteries and/or alternative power sources in the case of breakdowns and conduit explosions. A long solar flare will kill all hydroponic crops, though colonists can harvest crops to prevent a total loss.
When making a "greenhouse", you must consider other plant needs. Sun lamps are required to grow crops in a roofed room. You need a mostly roofed room in order to control the temperature for heaters and possibly coolers. Sun lamps, consuming 2900 W of power for 13 hours, are very power demanding. You also need to power the hydroponics themselves. A sun lamp and 24 hydroponics set up would cost 4580W at day and 1680W at night. Given that sun lamps are on only 13.2 hours a day, this equates to an average of 1595w for a sunlamp and 3275w for a sun lamp + 24 bays.
For indoor farming, hydroponics should be compared to placing extra sun lamps and building generators. Hydroponics can be used to grow crops with a sun lamp, but a lamp can also be used to grow indoors without hydroponics. You can fit up to 24 basins per sun lamp, for a total of 280% growth for 1 sun lamp. Alternatively, you could place 2 more sun lamps, for a total of 300% growth (relative to 1 sun lamp).
- 24 hydroponics basins would cost 2400 Steel, 24 Components and 1680 W.
- 2 extra sun lamps would cost 80 Steel for the lamps, and 400 Steel, 12 Components for 4 solar generators used to power the lamp. Outside of the planet's poles, these generators are enough to power 2 sun lamps with a battery or two.
As 3 sun lamps are much less expensive than 1 sun lamp with a full hydroponics set up, placing sun lamps will be the preferred option for many stages of the game. Even considering the cost of extra batteries and heaters, this is still cheaper.
In the late game, when steel and components are trivial to obtain, then hydroponics have a few key advantages over sun lamps. They take up less space, meaning they are easier to defend. As they take up less space, colonists will need to walk less, which increases efficiency. Because hydroponics isn't dirt, it can save on cleaning time. Finally, hydroponics are more stable - if a blight takes out the greenhouse, then only 1.98 days of growth is lost. Even when considering solar flares, rice in hydroponics grows so fast that it remains a consistent source of food.
- The DLC-exclusive plants fibercorn and nutrifungus do not require a sun lamp to grow indoors, but their extremely low Fertility Sensitivity means that building hydroponics basins provides a minimal benefit.
- It is possible to leave up to 25% of a room unroofed, which lets sunlight through, without needing a sun lamp, whilst allowing temperature control. However, this is inefficient for temperature.
Hydroponics are not limited to indoor farming. As mentioned previously, it is usually better to grow in more soil than it is to build hydroponics. But if soil is limited, and temperature permits - namely in a desert - then hydroponics can be viable as a farming tool.
Note that hydroponics basins can be destroyed by raiders. You may want to build a hydroponics room, and just leave it unroofed. You could roof it in later in case of an event like toxic fallout or cold snap.
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Rice provides the highest yield/day of 3.03, and as all raw food has the same nutrition, it also has the highest nutrition per day
Strawberry plants have a comparable value of 2.64 (13% lower than rice) but take 53% longer to grow. The similar yield/day is because strawberry plants produce 8 berries per harvest, instead of only 6 rice. This means that a strawberry farm produces (8/6) 33% more food per grower time, which can be useful if a colony has plenty of materials but is lacking in growers.
Potatoes should almost never be planted in bays, as they have a low fertility sensitivity and thus don't benefit as much from the fertility. Installing 24 bays around a sunlamp on gravel (the least fertile soil) increases the yield/day by 96%, but increases the energy costs by 105%. This means that it is more energy efficient to use more sunlamps with spuds than to use more bays, with this being even more so with regular or fertile soil
- 0.0.245 - Balanced down hydroponics growth rate.
- 0.3.410 - Fertility increase and requires power or the plants die. You can also now set what to grow on them.
- Since Beta 19 it now requires components to build, and the default crop was changed to rice (from potatoes). It also received a remodel.