WHAT IS HYDROPONICS?

Hydroponics is an agricultural technique through which one can cultivate plants without the need for soil as a source of the necessary nutrients needed for their  development.

Hydroponics, a word of ancient Greek origin, is formed by the words HYDOR (water), and by PONOS (the end result of work, as the book of a writer ).

The Hydroponic method of cultivating plants can be done by suspending the root system in water - Water Culture, suspending them in a mist of humid air - Aeroponics, or with the root system anchored in an inert or non biodedegradable Substratum, or Growing Medium - Hydroponics in Substrata.

In fact, in this technique, soil may be used as long as it has no biodecomposable materials, no mineral, organic-mineral or purely organic salts that can be dissolved and ionised in water.

As a result, hydroponic cultivations are common in desert sands.

The origins of this technique are found in ancient Egyptian and Chinese civilizations, and is thought to have been used by the Aztecs of Central America.

In modern times, it is considered to be the only method for producing fresh food for astronauts in space travels.

The development of Chemistry and Hydroponics has occurred together with man’s attempts to understand “why and how plants grow”.

In studying plants, it was proven that besides water for survival, they depended on mineral salts dissolved and ionized in the same water used for their growth.

Since Antiquity, many philosophers and scientists have participated in the History of Hydroponics including Aristotle, Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea Cesalpino, Luca Ghini, John Woodward, just to name a few.

However, the word “Hydroponics”, to describe this technique, was first used in 1935 by Dr. William Frederick Gericke, professor and researcher of Plant Nutrition at the University of California.  He is considered the Father of Hydroponics.

Before 1935 this technique was used by many researchers in plant nutrition in laboratory experiments, but it was Gericke who first developed hydroponics comercially.

Nowadays, hydroponics is used worldwide to cultivate a wide variety of plants of all sizes.

In many countries the standards used to measure plant quality are based on plants cultivated hydroponically, and that quality is very difficult, if not impossible to attain, in the majority of cases, in normal conventional soil culture.

Other countries cultivate specific plants exclusevely by using hydroponics, as is the case of  the production of orchids in New Zealand, one of the world’s leading exporters of these plants.

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