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Hydroponics Is?

September 30, 2011

hydroponics-isHydroponics (From the Greek words hydro, water and ponos, labor), is a way of cultivating plants, using mineral nutrient solutions, in water. Soil is not used. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite, gravel, mineral wool, or coconut husk. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics)

It was discovered in the 19th century that plants absorb mineral nutrients as inorganic ions in water. In natural conditions, and although soil also acts as a mineral nutrient reservoir, by itself it is not relevant to the growth of plants. When the required mineral nutrients are introduced into a plant’s water supply artificially, soil is not required for the plant to grow.

Historically, hydroponics was defined as crop growth in mineral nutrient solutions, with no solid medium for the roots. It is a subset if ‘soilless culture’, which only requires that no soils with clay or silt are involved in plant cultivation.

Plants that are not usually cultivated in a natural environment are possible to grow in a controlled climate system like hydroponics.  During the time of World War II, produce was grown with hydroponics on the dry Pacific Island, and this was the first time that hydroponics was used on a large commercial basis to feed people. NASA has also looked to utilize hydroponics in the space program. ‘Ray Wheeler, plant physiologist at Kennedy Space Center’s Space Life Science Lab, believes that hydroponics will create advances within space travel. He terms this as “a life support system with the biological component of growing plants—called a bioregenerative life support system. It has several benefits for NASA.” These Scientists are researching how different amounts of light, temperature and carbon dioxide, along with plant species can be grown and cultivated on planets like Mars. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydroponics)

Hydroponics has taken plant cultivation to whole new level, and its methodology has attracted even those who were scarcely interested in gardening or planting. But, what are the advantages and the disadvantages of hydroponics cultivation?

There are several advantages to growing plants using the hydroponics cultivation method, which excludes the use of soil. Growing time is comparatively much less and less space is required. As well, it entails much less effort and the need for garden maintenance is reduced. Of course, it is economical too, because water is conserved, the nutrients are recyclable, and pest, weed, and diseases problems are better controlled. No soil bred pests are borne, there is higher productivity, and finally, there is increased control over the plants rooting environment.

In spite of the above mentioned advantages, one should also be cautious though, of the demerits of using the hydroponics cultivation methods. These include rather a steep set up cost, and growers should possess the appropriate skills and knowledge to maintain maximum production in commercial applications. While the threat of soil borne pests is absent, but because each plant in a hydroponics system shares the same nutrient, diseases and pests can adversely affect each plant. Also if there is an unfavorable change in climate, plants grown with the hydroponics methods will wither or shrivel. Additionally, warm weather or decreased oxygen may curb production and lead to a loss in crops.

In conclusion, it may be mentioned therefore, that it is necessary to consider both, the advantages and disadvantages of hydroponics. One will therefore be able to make an informed decision this will allow you to make informed decisions on what application is appropriate for one’s respective requirement.

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