Have you ever wanted to grow flowers and plants that mature and develop quickly, that are healthy and hardy and don’t get overtaken by weeds? If you answered yes, then the world of hydroponics is for you. Hydroponics is a system of growing flowers and plants in a nutrient enriched water supply. By using hydroponics to grow plants, the need for soil is eliminated. Instead of using soil, other aggregates such as rock, mulch or plastic are used. A hydroponic system requires very little space and can be located in a variety of settings.

History of Hydroponics

The use of hydroponics for agriculture began with the Egyptians. Deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphics revealed that Egyptians grew plants in water. In the 1st century Roman gardeners used an early form of hydroponics to grow cucumbers out of season for the Roman Emperor Tiberius. The Romans grew the cucumbers by placing them under mica instead of using soil. The next sign of hydroponics didn’t occur until the 17th century in England. England began using experimental hydroponics to grow mint plants. Hydroponics was next used in the United States in 1925. US agricultural experimental stations began to investigate the use of hydroponics in their greenhouses. The agricultural stations wanted to determine if large-scale crops could be grown using complete nutrient solutions without the need for fertilizer. The hydroponic experiments were conducted by replacing the natural soil with a nutrient rich solution.

During the 1920’s through the 1930’s the agricultural experimental stations continued developing hydroponic methods used for large-scale crop production. The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station developed water and sand culture methods. These methods were demonstrated on the Pacific Islands during World War II. Commercial interest in hydroponics grew after World War II when Purdue University distributed service bulletins describing the system of delivering nutrient solution to plant roots. However, the high cost of constructing the concrete growing beds used in the hydroponics systems became a hindrance and the interest in hydroponics waned. Fortunately, the invention of plastic sparked a renewed interest in hydroponics. Plastic replaced the need for concrete in the lining of the growing beds. Plastic was also used in the construction of drip irrigation systems used in hydroponics. Between the 1950’s and the 1970’s several large hydroponic systems were developed in the deserts of California, Arizona and Iran. NASA became interested in developing hydroponic systems to use in the space program as a method of achieving sustainability on other planets. Two decades later, hydroponic systems have become the normal way to grow crops. Today, hydroponics is widely used to grow food in areas of the world where food is scarce and famine is rampant. Hydroponics is embraced by environmentalists because of its green properties, it is being used in local communities that want to grow their own healthy pesticide free food.

Ways To Grow Hydroponic Plants

There are three basic ways to grow flowers and plants using a hydroponic system. The simplest way is called the nutrient film technique. The nutrient film technique consists of a plastic channel which acts as a container. Holes are punched into the top of the container. The holes are then filled with flowers and plants. The channel slants a little to allow the nutrient enriched solution to circulate to the flowers and plants and then flow to a reservoir. Another basic way to grow flowers and plants using a hydroponic system is through a method called aeroponics. The aeroponic method replaces the nutrient enriched solution with a nutrient enriched mist. The roots of the flowers and plants are sprayed with a nutrient enriched mist instead of be submerged in a flowing stream of solution. The third basic way to grow flowers and plants with hydroponics is called aeration. Aeration is a little different from the other two methods in that it requires the use of an air pump. Using the aeration method the flowers and plants are immersed in a nutrient enriched solution but an air pump is used to deliver oxygen directly to the roots of the flowers and plants.

The Future of Hydroponics

Hydroponic technology is very advantageous and will continue to be so in the future. One future endeavor of hydroponic technology is called cogeneration projects. Cogeneration projects consist of greenhouses that use the waste heat energy generated by different industries and power plants. Cogeneration projects are already in use and could expand in the future. Another future use for hydroponics is designing greenhouses that contain antenna implanted in the glass of the greenhouse. The antenna could be used to receive energy radiation from energy collectors in space while simultaneously growing hydroponic tomatoes. The use of hydroponics in the future will have social and economical advantages. A major advantage to using hydroponics is the ability to bring employment possibilities to underprivileged regions on the nation, especially the areas where there is little to no employment opportunities. The use of hydroponics would bring tax revenue for the city and states of these regions and provide the citizens with a means of income.