What is hydroponics?

hydroponics systems

Hydroponics As a farming tool, many believe hydroponics started in the ancient city of Babylon with its famous hanging gardens, which are listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and was probably one of the first successful attempts to grow plants hydroponically.

Hydroponic gardening probably first became a modem reality around 1940 when the U.S. Army used hydroponic gardening techniques to grow fresh vegetables in the Pacific Islands. NASA was instrumental in advancing the field of hydroponics. They were developing a way to cultivate food in space in the absence of light. One of the major factors was the cost of putting these materials into space. They developed hydroponics systems as they are light, extremely efficient and have high yields. There are fully-fledged hydroponics systems in a number of American nuclear submarines, Russian space stations and various off-shore drilling rigs.

The development of plastics materials freed growers from the costs of constructions associated with the concrete beds and tanks previously used. With the development of suitable pumps, time clocks, plastic plumbing and other equipment, the entire hydroponic system can now be automated, or even computerized, reducing both capital and operational costs.

Recently, interest in hydroponics gardening has substantially increased. The reasons for this probably include: firstly some of the major countries of the world continue to have problems producing food under typical conditions--either because of poor weather or poor soil, or both. Secondly, the indoor growing of marijuana led to an explosion of use of hydroponics because it could be operated more clandestinely and chemical fertilization could be optimized to optimize plant and flower production.

There are two main types of hydroponic systems: an open system and a closed system. In the open hydroponic systems, a nutrient solution that is typically prepared from commercial fertilizers is periodically fed to the plants supported in an inorganic growth medium of sand or rock. The nutrient solution is drained through the growth medium to the environment. In the closed hydroponic system, the nutrient solution is periodically fed to the plants supported in an inorganic growth medium and then collected and recirculated for further use in later periodic feeling cycles. Closed systems are preferred for being more environmentally friendly, less wasteful of nutrient solution and hence more economic. On the other hand, they suffer from the disadvantage that the recirculated solution deteriorates with each cycle, both in terms of the amount of nutrient available to the plant and in terms of the amount of waste products and contaminants such as salts that build up, necessitating periodic flushing-out and cleaning of the closed system.

Problems include build-up of inorganic salts or other plant waste, fluctuations in nutrient available, root rot and excessive root growth. Other problems include build-up of algae and widely fluctuating pH of the nutrient solution due to accumulation of waste in stagnant pockets of nutrient solution. Therefore, there is a need for entirely organic systems, such as bioponis, that avoids these problems, yet that provides an appropriate environment for growing plants without soil.