Hydroponics is the technology of growing plants in a nutrient solution composed of water and fertilizer. The word hydroponics is derived from two Greek words: 'hydro' meaning water and 'ponos' meaning labor. Hydroponic production can be with or without the use of an artificial medium such as perlite, sand, gravel, peat, or sawdust) to provide mechanical support.
Many consider hydroponics as being a new production method, however history shows that some of the earliest recordings of hydroponics were actually in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, where plants were grown in a steady stream of water.
- More efficient use of water and fertilizers
- No soil is required
- Space requirements and growing time are lessened
- Heavy work is reduced
- Pest and disease problems can be better controlled without harsh chemicals
- Nutrients are recyclable
- Weed problems are lessened
- Crop rotation is not necessary
- Set up cost can be high
- Skill and knowledge are necessary to operate at optimum production
- Disease and pest can spread quickly to plants using shared nutrient solutions
- Not all plants are suitable for hydroponics
- Plants have quick reactions to both good and bad conditions
The term hydroponics was first used in the late 1920's by a professor in California named Dr. W.F. Gericke. He developed a technique, pioneered by German scientists Sachs in 1860 and Knop between 1861 and 1865, into a commercial means of plant production. Sachs and Knop were among a number of scientists during the 19th century to research plant nutrition and develop a chemical formula to overcome major set backs in previous attempts at hydroponics.
Hydroponic technologies were further developed throughout the 1930s and '40s in North America, Europe, and Japan due to the inspirations of Dr. Gericke's work.
During WW II, the United States Army used hydroponics to grow fresh produce for troops stationed on infertile Pacific islands. In America, Britain, Europe, Africa, and Asia, there were viable commercial farms operating by the 1950s. Today, hydroponics are used in our urban areas where high land costs have driven out traditional agriculture, to provide locally grown high-value specialty crops such as fresh salad greens, herbs and cut flowers.
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