Hydroponics: Soilless Production of Crops

(a description in which plants can be produced in containers filled with water and a number of other non-soil contents)

Raising plants in a non-soil situation allows for more plants in a limited amount of space:

  • Food crops will mature more rapidly and produce greater results.
  • Water and fertilizer are conserved because they can be used again.
  • Plants don't need soil as much as they require the reserves of nutrients and moisture.
  • Soil quite often tends to leach water and nutrients away from plants, making the application of correct amounts of a fertilizer very difficult.
  • In hydroponics, the necessary nutrients are dissolved in water, and this solution is applied to the plants in exact doses at prescribed intervals.
  • Until 1936, raising plants in a water and nutrient solution was a practice restricted to laboratories, where it was used to facilitate the study of plant growth and root development.
  • In that year, Dr. W.F. Gericke, working in the laboratories of the University of California, succeeding in growing twenty-five foot tomato vines in large basins containing water and nutrient solutions.
  • It was Dr. Gericke who invented the name for this discovery.
  • Formed from two Greek words, hydroponics can be roughly translated as meaning "water working".
  • Between the time of his discovery and the onset of American involvement in World War II, Dr. Gericke and a number of other scientists were able to develop hydroponics from a concept into a sophisticated, successful system.
—Compiled from excerpts found in the introduction of
Hydroponics, Soilless Gardening by Richard E. Nicholls;
Running Press; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1977; pages 10 and 11.

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