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HYDROPONICS
by Jana

 

What is so great about hydroponics? There are many advantages to the use of hydroponics. Hydroponics requires as little as 10 percent of the land used in regular farming, and less than 10 percent of the water. If hydroponic water is recirculated, water use is rapidly reduced. Water and fertilizer are conserved and can be reused. There are no weeds to remove and the risks of pests and diseases are minimized. It allows you to grow more plants in a limited amount of space, because the roots do not have to spread out in search of food and water. Food crops mature more rapidly and produce greater amounts. You can raise plants hydroponically in pots or containers, or in units adjusted to fit whatever size and shape of space you have available.

SOIL

HYDROPONICS

Bacteria have to break down the dirt into the basic elements, which are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as trace elements.

The nutrient solution is dissolved directly into the water, allowing the plant to receive perfect and constant nutrition at all times.

Not able to produce as much nutrient per area as the root system is able to take up.

The necessary amount of food is taken directly to the root, rather than making the plant’s roots spread in search for it.

Is difficult to measure in terms of pH and fertility when soil loses its nutritional value.

The pH and nutritional value of the water are easily measured and maintained, so plants always have enough to eat.

The basic elements can dissolve into the water only when you water your soil plants.

Moisture present for extended periods of time, all the time.

Soil attracts the many nasty little creatures and insects, which isn’t very healthy for your plants or crops.

Hydroponics growing mediums are inert and sterile, making a great hygienic environment.

Requires a lot more watering, has a high occurrence of pests, slower growth of plants and crops, needs more growing space, and constant maintenance.

Faster growth of plants and crops, requires less growing space, decreased amount of pests and diseases and the need for watering.

OUTDOORS

INDOORS

Conditions limit selection of flowers, herbs and vegetables you can grow.

Growing conditions are determined by you.

You can have bad weather: too much or little rain, too much or little sun, too high or low temperature.

All factors that limit plant growth, can be kept in check with hydroponics.

 

TYPES OF SYSTEMS

So how do you know what system to use? There are many different types of hydroponic systems used all across the world. However, the most common ones are the water culture systems, which include the nutrient film technique, aeroponics, and the aeration method. The nutrient film technique uses a plastic tube as the container through which a thin film of nutrient solution is constantly flowing. Despite the other many methods of hydroponic gardening, almost always will there be a nutrient solution involved.

 

THE NUTRIENT SOLUTION

What is in the nutrient solution? What is it? The nutrient solution is the most important factor in hydroponic gardening. It can result in success or it can result in failure.

What does each of the nutrients do anyway?

NUTRIENT

FUNCTION

Nitrogen

Influences the production of leaves and in the growth of the stem.

Phosphorus

Necessary in the development of flowers and fruits and encourages growth of healthy roots.

Potassium

Used during assimilation of energy produced by photosynthesis.

Calcium

Spurs root growth and provides a source to a plant’s absorption of potassium.

Magnesium

Component of chlorophyll and active in transporting phosphorus throughout a plant.

Sulfur

Influential with phosphorus to heighten the effectiveness, and is also a production of energy.

Iron

Important in the production of chlorophyll within a plant.

Manganese

Influential in the absorption of nitrogen.

Zinc

Necessary in the transportation of energy in a plant.

Copper

Needed in the production of chlorophyll.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Richard Nicholls, "Hydroponics: Soilless Gardening"

Worldwide Media Services, Inc., copyright 1990; NY, NY

William H. Carlson, "Hydroponics," World Book Online Americas Edition

http://www.aolsvc.worlbook.aol.com/wbol/wbpage/na/ar/co/269380

"Hydroponics" Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2001

http://encarta.msn.com

"Soil versus Hydroponics," Homegrown Hydroponics Inc.,

http://www.hydroponics.com/jack/soil.html

"Hydroponics" NZ Gardens Online

http://gardens.co.nz/features/Hydroponics.html

"Home Hydroponics" Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia State University

http://www.ext.vt.edu/pubs/envirohort/426-084/426-084.html