Hydroponics 101 – What is Hydroponics & Why Is It Important?

Hydroponics is a hot topic in the realm of agriculture. It’s rapidly gaining popularity; some thought leaders are even calling it “The Future of Agriculture”, and with good reason.

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Society has long shifted away from the nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and we now rely on farming as a means of sustenance. As the population (and its affluence) increases, the demand for more crops increases as well. In the past, there was a seemingly endless supply of farmland, but that is no longer the case. Between commercial development, poor land management, and all of the land that is already being used for farming, there is a limited amount of new farmable land available. This has led to a search for alternative farming methods, and determining what the next steps in agriculture should be. Hydroponics has been a huge part of that answer.

 

What is Hydroponics?

Simply put, hydroponics is an agricultural system that uses nutrient-enriched water instead of soil to grow plants.

There are a variety of hydroponics techniques, but in all of them, the water being used is continuously recycled, which limits the possibility of wasted resources.

 

Why is it Important?

By eliminating the need for soil, and by nature, natural precipitation, hydroponics presents the opportunity for plant/crop growth almost anywhere that a hydroponics system can be set up. The elimination of soil means that areas that are plagued by erosion, diseased soil, or infertile land still have the ability to grow crops. The recycled water system ensures that as long as an initial water supply can be provided, areas that are prone to droughts, or even people living on desert land will be able to produce crops for consumption of profit.

All hydroponics systems are designed to contain their water “waste”, thereby eliminating the possibility of damaging their surrounding areas via eutrophication. Relatedly, diseases are spread less readily (between both plants and humans) because there is no soil for the disease-causing bacteria to grow in.

Hydroponics also creates stronger crops. Plants grow more readily, and in more abundance because they:

  1. Don’t have to work to find nutrients the way that they would in soil
  2. Don’t have to compete with anything else (ie: weeds) for the nutrients that thy need.

(The water provides the nutrients directly to the plants’ roots. )

Hydroponics growth is truly an “industry” disrupter, and the advantages it provides become more and more important over time.

 

Check back next month for: Hydroponics 101 – What are the Different Hydroponics Methods?


 

For resources, please visit the following sites: MIT – Biodiversity, MIT – Feeding the World