What is Hydroponic System


Hydroponic Systems  are a process of growing plants without the use of soil using an exact water soluble mix of nutrients and minerals provided directly to the roots system of the plant. The process is nothing new in fact it been used for thousands of years. Using gravity engineered in the design, ancient farmers were able to grow crops in water without using soil on large scales feeding whole population of people.

 

 

600AD
Hydroponics has been around for a long time, the process used by ancient civilized people of Babylon as far back as 600 AD. The Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were considered as one of the Seven Wonders of The World. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon along with the Great Pyramids of Egypt, the Temple of Artemis in Turkey, the Statue of Zeus in Greece, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Turkey, the Colossus of Roade’s (Greece) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria located in Egypt.

Most of these Wonders Of The World don’t exist today and the accounts of the Hanging Garden of Babylon were noted by Ancient documents and architectural writings found through research of the ancient civilizations throughout the years. These gardens were located along the Euphrates river. The gardens supposedly used the Chain Pull System. This system carried water up from the river and allowed to trickle down to each landing of the garden.

10th Century
During the 10th century, the Aztecs used a system of floating garden using hydroponics. They were driven out of their land, they settled on the banks of Lake Tenochtitlan but they were not able to grow crops there.

They built rafts from reeds and roots found on the shore and used silt soil from the bottom of the lake. They floated the rafts out to the middle of the lake and crops grew on top of the rafts with their root system growing through the rafts into the water. The rafts were called Chinampas and the silt was nutrient rich with a variety of organic compounds that the Aztecs used for farming crops.

The Chinampas supported an abundance of flowers, crops and even trees. While allowing for a constant source of water and root oxygenation. The Chinampas were even grouped together to form large islands. Some of these were inhabited by gardeners and others that maintain the islands and used their Chinampas to travel to local markets with fresh vegetables and other crops.

These Chinampas were a huge success and supported as many as 200,000 people during the height of the Aztec civilization. The makeshift islands were bigger than some cities in Europe. When the Spanish arrived, the sight of these floating cities astonished them.

William Prescott the known historian and who witnessed the destruction of the Aztec Empire by the Spaniard remarked in his writing that the chinampas were Wandering Islands of Verdure teeming with flowers and vegetables moving like rafts across the water. The Chinampas continued in use well into the 19 Century. Countries like Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador knew about hydroponics, how it works and similar types of systems in their own culture.

1600’s-Late 1700’s
In the 1600’s new scientific experiments studying plant growth and their requirements led to Jan Van Helmut to discover how plants take nutrients and substances from water for necessary growth. Little was known about the Sciences at this time until the next century or two came about with modern scientific research. By the turn of the century it was determined by an English Scientist John Woodward that plant growth was dictated by certain nutrients that were in soil and water or both but more importantly, It was through his efforts that European plant physiologists found that a plant takes in these nutrients and substances through their root system and passes through the stem and out the pores or openings on the leaves of the plant.

They also proved that plant roots take up minerals along with oxygen and nutrients from either water or soil, and absorb carbon dioxide through the leaves on the plant. Then they transform that Carbon Dioxide into Oxygen through respiration which was an important part of the puzzle. As time went by more knowledge became sophisticated and advanced into what we know as modern scientific research. The modern theory of chemistry made big advances during this time.

1800’s-Early 1900’s
By the 1800’s elements believed to be essential for plant growth were identified and botanist were growing plants in other mediums like sand and charcoal instead of soil. They understood that water was needed for a plant to live then narrowed what minerals and nutrients were needed for the growth of the plant. Once this nutrient optimization mixture for the plant was developed, it was considered a major breakthrough.

By 1856 it was known that plants could be grown in inert material or medium as long as the medium was moist and had the minerals in it that was needed by the plants for normal growth. The next step would be to eliminate the media completely and grow the plants in water rich with the nutrients and minerals. By 1860 German Professor Julius Von Sach Professor of Botany at the University of Wurzburg and his partner W. Knop an Agricultural Chemist published the first Standard formula for a nutrient solution that could be dissolved in water where plants could be grown. This marked the end in the long search for the source of nutrients necessary for all plant growth.

These German Scientists help create with their predecessors a new science called Nutriculture. The early investigations in plant nutrition demonstrated that normal plant growth can be achieved by immersing the roots of a plant in a water solution containing salts of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Sulfur (S), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), and Magnesium (Mg) along with Carbon(C) Oxygen(O) and Hydrogen(H) These elements are considered Macronutrients.

With further refinement, Scientist narrowed this down further to seven elements required in small amounts for the plant’s optimum growth. These were Iron Chlorine Manganese(MN) Boron(B) Zinc(Zn) Copper(Cu) and Molybdenum(Mo) The actual total amounts of elements is between 15 and 17. Modern Hydroponic fertilizers although not perfected still contain more nutrient-rich substances than regular crop fertilizer.

1920-1930’s
Interest in a practical application using Hydroponics came through the Greenhouse industry where there were problems related to soil that needed to be replaced frequently because of problems with structure pest and fertility. All these problems would be alleviated with the process of Hydroponics and a soilless culture.

Dr. Victor Tiedjens was an early pioneer in soilless farming in the 1920s to 1930s. He found that farmers were using dry fertilizer at this time and that if they dissolved it first with water the plants would better utilize it. Also, the solutions used could better be manipulated for different strengths and for different plants. This led to the invention of liquid fertilizer.

 

In 1929, Dr. William F. Gericke of the University of California dedicated his Lab into a commercial crop production operation. First calling his department aquaculture then finding that term was being used in another science field and changed it to Hydroponics which means Hydro(water) ponos (working water) in Greek.

         

His operation became a huge success with predictions of 25-foot tomatoes plants and exaggerated results for crop production. Some press publications called it the biggest invention of the last century. Unfortunately, the success was premature and the excitement was proved harmful for a long time. The technical part of Hydroponics and the fact crops using it need constant attention created disdain and left it dormant until the technology caught the world attention again.

1940-Now
During WW2 the science of Hydroponics was revived when the government started experimenting with the process again. The British and American forces that were stationed on Islands in the South Pacific used Hydroponics to grow fresh vegetables and produce to troops during the war. The military used the method as it’s the sole process for overseas produce production. They continued long after the war producing huge amounts of fruits and vegetables using the same way.

Dr. Gericke’s Hydroponic Garden in 1945

But the real turn around was the influx of plastics after the war and the new technologies that came in the early seventies created the environment needed for Hydroponics. Pumps, timers, automated electronic equipment was necessary for its rebirth. The old structures made from concrete and iron involved with agriculture and greenhouse production was revamped. The process that was discovered 50 years previously could finally be delivered. It was available and streamlines for today’s largest issues in the world today like water scarcity and food shortage. Hydroponics can produce 10 times the food yield per/acre using 1/10 the water in use.

                

 

 

 

 

Importance of Hydroponics

Today Agriculture and outdoor landscape irrigation consume 70% of the global water supply. Each continent in the world today is struggling to access safe and reliable water reserves. The world’s population will reach and exceed 9 Billion people in the world. We will need twice the amount of water and land to accommodate this amount but there is not enough available. Deforestation won’t be an option. We need to grow more food on the land we already have while keeping this land fertile and destroyed from overuse.

New technologies are being used to solve these huge global problems. What effects one effect all. Eventually, these problems won’t be restricted to one area of the globe. Changing the economics of Agriculture using more stringent processes and procedures will be needed now.

There are International companies, some right in our backyard, that are leading the way with new technologies like Hydroponics, Precision Irrigation, and Wastewater Utilization.

Digital solutions for all processes of farming to monitor analyze and control every step of agriculture Farmers are finding that the more sustainable approach to agriculture, the more profitable while saving precious global resources from food and water to energy and land.

How can we keep up and grow enough food for the increasing population is a huge question that needs a solution. The components of a farm system that were used for centuries has to change to keep up with a changing world. Growing plants without soil could be a solution. The need for producing more productive food in smaller spaces with fewer resources gives rise to Hydroponics in agriculture.
How does hydroponic farming work?

How Does a Hydroponic Farming Work?

Using nutrient and mineral-rich solutions to grow plants in places that would never be home to them is the unique idea behind the process. Using habitats that have no business in sustaining crops but with the proven methodology can be very successful. Since the travels of Marco Polo in the 13th century in China. The process Hydroponics is very old but the technology that makes it possible now is very new.

By applying the proper amount of a nutrient solution to the root system the formula for growing vegetables in water without soil.  This process can bring an abundant amount of crop yield. Plants can be held in an inert material and a drip system can add the nutrient solution drop by drop with no waste.

The plant can even be suspended with its roots in the air and sprayed with a solution mist or a sloping film that allows the solution to trickle over its roots. All the systems are controlled and outfitted by mechanized pumps and timers that deliver the solution from a separate area also using gravity in certain schemes of design.

The solution is aerated so that oxygen is added to the plant’s roots at the same time it receives the nutrients. This procedure ensures the plant’s mineral absorption rate that requires energy which in turn uses oxygen is successful. The plant is totally maintained automatically. With the proper amount of food and oxygen for the best end results.

Delivering Nutrients to the plant is a whole science to itself. Plants require over a dozen essential minerals and nutrients with the optimal amounts varying according to species, stages in growth and local conditions, and all PH dependent. Some have to be provided to the plant separately from others. Some compounds react with other substances that hinder the absorption of nutrients for the plant along with the other plants.

Too much of this and too little of that can destroy the outcome. The complicated science of Nutri-culture has been one of the obstacles in the ease of operation and use of Hydroponics, how it works in agriculture and business. Unlike other methods of crop growing, contamination is an issue farmers have to deal with. Enclosed areas such as greenhouses, help with this part of the operation problem. The process of Hydroponics can be quite simple too.

What Is Hydroponic Farming Hydroponic farming isometric flowchart with staff and elements of orangery constructions water pump fertilizers vegetable market vector illustration

How can we keep up and grow enough food for the increasing population is a huge question that needs a solution. The components of a farm system that were used for centuries has to change to keep up with a changing world. Growing plants without soil could be a solution. The need for producing more productive food in smaller spaces with fewer resources gives rise to Hydroponics in agriculture.

​Is Hydroponics Sustainable

 

Too much of this and too little of that can destroy the outcome. The complicated science of Nutri-culture has been one of the obstacles in the ease of operation and use of Hydroponics, how it works in agriculture and business. Unlike other methods of crop growing, contamination is an issue farmers have to deal with. Enclosed areas such as greenhouses, help with this part of the operation problem. The process of Hydroponics can be quite simple too.

The Hydroponic process doesn’t have to be complicated. In this video you can see the mechanics and whole idea is really pretty simple. As long as the roots receive the proper nutrient and food source plants will grow in small unorthodox places that would normally be impossible. This type of farming that is 1000 years old is basically the same process. This inexpensive creative way of Agriculture could benefit many people in many different areas of the world. 

Environmental Benefits of Hydroponics 

There is no waste  The nutrients delivered to plants can be precisely added so there is no waste of water or minerals compared to any other types of agriculture. Up to 90 % of the water used in standard farming for growing crops can be saved by the use of Hydroponics.

Better yields  Because of the precise delivery of nutrients to the crops it is optimized for a better

and predictable result. No leeching from fields, huge savings on fertilizer & pesticides-Eco Friendly

More Control of Pest and Disease because of the soilless environment.

Locations-  Plants can be grown anywhere like spacecraft or indoors. Because all environmental conditions can be controlled unconventional spaces can be used like subways or basements.

There are Negatives to growing with Hydroponics

Artificial light-heating/cooling and the Mechanics of using Hydroponics has to be maintained.

Equipment that has to be used which can be costly along with the hydroponic start-up cost.

The vulnerability of a wrong Nutrient dosage and power outages can wipe out the entire crop. Plants are less hardy in a water-based solution. This can affect the whole crop until it’s picked up and corrected. This could be a malfunction in equipment or power outage or a human mistake.


An important feature that can affect the results of using Hydroponic plant growth is the use of artificial lighting. Hydroponic Drip System has to be set, adjusted, and maintained. Nutrients delivered mechanically are the only sources, so they have to be right.

Temperatures have to be regulated for the health of the plant and especially it’s rooted. Heaters and cooling systems along with thermostats have to be controllable and functioning. Support for vine plants like tomato plants needs to be maintained. A word about Pollination. Mechanical equivalents of bees and insects are needed if some of the plants growing need self-pollinating to produce fruit.

 

Is Hydroponics Sustainable

Big changes are in store for the future of farming and are already in place. In 1900 about 11 million people worked in agriculture in the US, feeding the country that number has dropped significantly almost in half. This is due to the ongoing influence of new technology that exists in the agricultural business. Computerized precision equipment that delivers more sustainable fertilizers and water and timers that automate the system into a loop that can operate, adjust and think for itself.  New on the horizon is automated robotic pickers that can pick fields of fruits or vegetables twice as fast as humans can.

Drones that can precisely remove weeds or shoot individual plants with pesticides using 90% less by applying exact amounts to where is needed unlike the older process of blanketing entire areas of crops in fields. Lasers from drones can even zap the weed without the use of chemical pesticides at all. A 20-40% of crop yield can be saved by preventing pests and disease from ruining crops every year.

Tiny sensors and smartphones will play a role in the communication between the new technology and the producer who can make critical, more sustainable changes to the whole system from anywhere in the world. Core samples of farmlands or greenhouses can be taken for testing by mechanical farm equipment, analyzed and the crops can be saved continuously without human interference.

There are plans for farms to be completely run by automation. Automating crop information through technology is even done from space through satellite pictures. New software programs are being developed to control crops no matter how big, no matter what the product is for the least cost and best yield. Hydroponics will be part of that new plan to feed the world.

How can we keep up and grow enough food for the increasing population is a huge question that needs a solution. The components of a farm system that were used for centuries has to change to keep up with a growing world. Growing plants without soil could be a solution. The need for producing more productive food in smaller spaces with fewer resources give rise to Hydroponics in agriculture.

Using habitats that have no business in sustaining crops but with the proven methodology can be very successful. Since the travels of Marco Polo in the 13th century in China. The process is very old but the technology that makes it possible is very new.

Fine tuning the Hydroponic systems to work even more efficient will be the key. By applying the proper amount of nutrient solution to the root system is how to grow vegetables in water without soil which can bring an abundant amount of crop yield. Plants can be held in an inert material and a drip system can add the nutrient solution. The plant can even be suspended with its roots in the air and sprayed with a solution mist or a sloping film that allows the solution to trickle over its roots.

All the systems are controlled and outfitted by mechanized pumps and timers that deliver the solution from a separate area. The solution is aerated so that oxygen is added to plant’s roots at the same time it receives the nutrients. This procedure ensures the plant’s mineral absorption rate that requires energy which in turn uses oxygen is successful. The plant is totally maintained automatically and with the newest sustainable technology will work miracles in the most baren parts of the earth.

Commercial Hydroponic Systems

New sustainable companies are popping up all over the country, some right in our own backyard that provides alternative farming methods. What used to be a hobby is now ready for prime time. Water and land scarcity have brought us to a serious place. The reports from around the world are alarming but there are technology and entrepreneurs ready to take on using the capital to move towards the next chapter in agriculture.

The idea that you can grow fresh healthy crops on land that had no use, using 90% less water and no pesticides while providing jobs and business growth to places that have seen no business growth in some time is enticing to young people that see the opportunity and seize it. companies Edenworks in Brooklyn NY that uses the process of Aquaponics that is a sustainable method of raising both fish and vegetables. Using Hydroponic Greenhouse technology. It is popular with individuals, entrepreneurs, educators, missions, and governments. Furthermore, with this type of indoor farming, you grow substantially more food with less water, land, and labor than traditional agriculture.

 

Garden Fresh Farms using Hydroponics to grow leafy vegetables all year long naturally converting fish waste to fertilizer which acts as the nutrients fed to the soilless plants using the Vertical Farming method. This new farm technology is taking the world by storm because of the natural process of producing and the guaranteed delivered fresh to Supermarket approach is getting a lot of attention. It’s called 24 Fresh from the farm to the supermarket in within 24 hours.

They’re able to do this because of the space that they occupy in the same neighborhood as the restaurant and the supermarket. Hydroponics makes this limited space growth possible. The business models have a sustainable goal of benefits that are all-encompassing with reducing water up to 90%. Reducing energy up to 50% Reducing land use 100%. For the Consumer, it uses no pesticides and is all-natural. It is fresher, tastier, and higher in nutritional value.

Sold at a competitive price and also sold year-round for availability. An investor in these sustainable eco-friendly companies achieves a solid return on investment. It can revitalize neighborhoods Local access through healthy foods through CSA’s and creates jobs along the way to success.

Dr. William Gericke would be proud with joy to realize the dream he had of his invention would come to fruition and become such an important early discovery. It looks like it could be the answer or at least part of the answer to the biggest questions we face in the near future.

New Sustainable Businesses like Edenworks from Brooklyn NY are springing up all over with good reason. They can produce food more easily and cheaper than any other type of Agriculture. Where you once needed acres of farmland to produce crops now can be done on the top of a skyscraper in a major city anywhere in the world.

Hydroponics Agriculture For The Home

Up until the late 70’s the idea of growing plants indoors with no soil was taught in schools but was more of a science experiment in Biology than a practical standard for crop growing. School teachers spread the process through instructions from Dr. William Gericke who dreamed of other scientist and agriculture societies to see the true value of his experiments and their results. He wanted farmers to replace fields of wheat and potatoes with hydroponic systems.

His porotypes systems for tomato, flowers, and salad greens resulted in huge yields and successful bounties more than any other standard conventional field growing during this time. Even during the war countries showed interest in his procedures because of the growing concern of population growth and fewer resources. But it didn’t happen.


There was one group of people that used the invention of Gericke and began a whole line of new business, The business of pot growing. The 70’s brought the war on drugs and pot was considered a drug. The normal way to grow pot was people would buy plots of open land in warmer climate regions like California, Hawaii, and Florida. The pot culture picked up the hydroponics systems and took the whole thing indoors.

The first time growers spent a huge amount of money to get the new green business going. Apparently and I wouldn’t Know but the cost paid in equipment was well worth the product, and then some. Still, the start-up cost for the equipment involved is still a hurdle when it comes to making a commercial go at the business level end on hydroponics.

The smaller systems on sale can yield good amounts of veggies and flowers and are fairly inexpensive. Hydroponic growing is the future, and the future is here. Hydroponics gardening offers numerous benefits over traditional growing including control over pH and nutrient balances, a reduced amount of pests and diseases and reduced water and nutrient waste. This one is self- sustaining using fish waste for nutrients.

 

An Aquaponic System is a self-sustaining hydroponic station that combines fish culture with plant production into a single, beneficial ecosystem. In other words, the Aquaponic System works by using fish waste as a natural fertilizer for the plants, the plants, in turn, help create clean water for the fish to live in. The farmer won’t have to add nutrients to the roots of the plants by using Aquaponics.

  • The nutrients are produced by fish poop in the tank water where fish live.
  • That nutrient-rich water from the tank is pumped over a media that holds microbes. These microbes convert the nutrient-rich water down to nontoxic material.
  • That converted waste is added as nutrients to the plant’s roots, which use it as food.

Aquaponic can take up minimal space in your home. All you need is a Hydroponic System with a fish tank added to the system. Indoor systems will need artificial light but the Outdoor system won’t.

Hydroponic Kits For Sale 

Hydroponic Kits for the home or apartment enable the grower to grow all year round. Herbs, vegetable flowers and more can grow right on the countertop in your kitchen. Like this Hydroponic Kit that comes in bigger systems Recommended by MyWarterEarth&Sky through Amazon, comes with the automatic features that will turn the specialized light bulb 10-watt full spectrum that comes on and turns off. Others are smaller indoor Kits also recommended by MyWaterEarth&Sky and sold through Amazon for less price. 

The gardener still has to learn to keep up with the mixture and nutrient addition but with some added help from the newer units that alarms when it is feeding time. The systems are many like this Gravity Fed Systems like this one called AutoPot 8 Pot (3.9).

Seed kits for whatever plant you desire and it will keep fresh vegetables growing year-round in your kitchen. Easy to assemble the systems are amazingly simple to use and require minimal energy. Indoor Flowering Systems. The LED lights concentrate daylight white LEDs for fast growth, blue LEDs for bigger yields, and red LEDs for more flowers and fruit. With ideal lighting and optimally balanced levels of water and nutrients, plants grow up to five The kits come with everything you need to get going for a modest price.

Most of these smaller hydroponic kits germinate in 7-14 days and harvest in 4-6 weeks and continue long after that. The plants grow in water and air with no soil to mess with. This system called the AeroGarden Sprout LED with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit, Black has a reservoir that provides the root system with an abundant balance of oxygen and water and nutrients.

The root systems are suspended in the air and grow fast and efficiently as the exact amount of nutrients are added aromatically when needed. Advanced LED lighting system that is tuned exactly for maximizing photosynthesis, resulting in rapid, natural growth and abundant harvests. The systems use an adjustable lamp arm that can maximize your plant growth. These growers use no pesticides or herbicides from the seeds through the whole process. Making it a totally green healthy product.

The Outdoor Hydroponic Gardens can use different types to take advantage of the space needed to grow a good amount of plants and vegetables. This outdoor system is called a Vertical Hydroponic that uses a height advantage along with the sun and warmer temperatures of the summer season. Once the seasons change again, the farmer can move his/her system indoors with an Indoor Hydroponic System with either a homemade kit or something from the Home Improvement store. The addition of artificial lighting will be the only component needed from the Outside System.

Since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon one of the Seven Wonders of the World has been hanging around, so has the process of Hydroponics. We just needed a couple of thousand years or so to discover it and now you can buy the system at the nearest Home Depot. 

The future of Hydroponics looks very good considering all the issues that the world is experiencing these days like water scarcity and over-population. Not to mention the overuse of land that will come along within the future of the earth’s water shortage. Sometimes you need to look into the past to find a solution for the future.

This may be one of those times.

Jim has over 30 years in the Water/Wastewater and Water Filtration Business as an Operator-Consultant He has written over 300 Articles on the World Wide Water Situation & Solutions

jimGalloway

Editor & Author, MyWaterEarth&Sky

Reference:

 Garden Fresh Farms

Sustainable Foods in Europe Systems

Related Questions:

Are hydroponic farms profitable?

If you are looking into the economics of commercial hydroponic farming, there are a couple of assumptions worth pointing out: Hydroponic farms are already profitable.

What is the best crop to grow for profit?

Bamboo. Landscapers and homeowners are paying as much as $150 each for potted bamboo plants, and many growers are finding it hard to keep up with the demand.
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