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The Basics Of Hydroponics

Aug 24, 2007
"There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common."
-Denis Diderot

Hydroponics is an alternative solution for producing crops; it is a method that replaces soil with a combination of water and various minerals and nutrients. The word hydroponics comes from Greece and means "working water", in fact we replace the soil with a water rich in all the elements essential for the plants to grow.

Hydroponics has a very long history, it is well known that both Aztecs and Babylonians used it to grow plants without soil, even if they obtained the nutrients solution in a different way than we do. The chemical combinations we use today in hydroponics were discovered as late as the 19th century.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the topic:
"Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel or Rockwool. A variety of techniques exist.

Plant physiology researchers discovered in the 1800s that plants absorb essential mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, soil acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir but the soil itself is not essential to plant growth. When the mineral nutrients in the soil dissolve in water, plant roots are able to absorb them. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant's water supply artificially, soil is no longer required for the plant to thrive. Almost any terrestrial plant will grow with hydroponics, but some will do better than others. It is also very easy to do; the activity is often undertaken by very young children with such plants as watercress. Hydroponics is also a standard technique in biology research and teaching and a popular hobby."

Advantages and Disadvantages

If you remove a plant from soil it will eventually die, but if we pack the plants according to the hydroponics techniques the grown vegetables can be sold while still having their roots dipped in nutrients. The resulting products will be fresh for a much longer period of time.

Using hydroponics environment will assure that the plants receive just as much water as necessary, also you won't need to dispose the solid soil. Hydroponics could be the best solution for growing crops in hostile environments where proper soil can't be found, for example think about Antarctica or any other hostile place.

Furthermore, hydroponics is an effective way of teaching students everything about plants growth since the root is so perfectly visible in the most natural way. Another advantage for the use of hydroponics is the fact that all diseases related to soil are eliminated and much fewer pesticides are used. Also a minimal level of water is needed compared to the irrigation system.

Hydroponics is in many cases much cheaper than traditional methods, for example when growing strawberries we obtain a new crop 20% cheaper. Statistically these plants are less vulnerable to root problems, and fertilization is done more easily. The best thing is that a system using hydroponics is very cheap and doesn't require any qualifications.

Is hydroponics that good?

It is true that hydroponics benefits and use have been exaggerated and considered a miracle that would change the face of agriculture all over the world. The fact is that using hydroponics won't produce you greater crops than good quality soil would.

Also it is not a sure thing that hydroponics techniques lead to obtaining better and tastier fruits that classical methods do. Hydroponics is a good solution in remote regions with poor soil, where agriculture doesn't stand the smallest chance. In such cases, it comes as the only viable solution to grow green plants.

If you found this article helpful, but are looking for more, here are some handy search tips:
1) The Library - don't forget books, they are packed full of information
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3) Local stores - depending on the store, educated employees can be a great resource
About the Author
For more information on hydroponics visit http://www.hydroponicstown.com
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