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Evolution and InnovationSave Biodiversity...Rise

Hydroponic Systems

Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel.

The earliest published work on growing terrestrial plants without soil was the 1627 book Sylva Sylvarum by Francis Bacon, printed a year after his death. Water culture became a popular research technique after that. In 1699, John Woodwardpublished his water culture experiments with spearmint. He found that plants in less-pure water sources grew better than plants in distilled water. By 1842, a list of nine elements believed to be essential to plant growth had been compiled, and the discoveries of the German botanists Julius von Sachs and Wilhelm Knop, in the years 1859-65, resulted in a development of the technique of soilless cultivation.[1] Growth of terrestrial plants without soil in mineral nutrient solutions was called solution culture. It quickly became a standard research and teaching technique and is still widely used today. Solution culture is now considered a type of hydroponics where there is no inert medium.

In 1929, William Frederick Gericke of the University of California at Berkeley began publicly promoting that solution culture be used for agricultural crop production.[2][3] He first termed it aquaculture but later found that aquaculture was already applied to culture of aquatic organisms. Gericke created a sensation by growing tomato vines twenty-five feet high in his back yard in mineral nutrient solutions rather than soil.[4] By analogy with the ancient Greek term for agriculture, γεωπονικά,[5] the science of cultivating the earth, Gericke coined the term hydroponics in 1937 (although he asserts that the term was suggested by W. A. Setchell, of the University of California) for the culture of plants in water (fromAncient Greek ὕδωρ, water,[5] and πόνος, labour [5]).[1]

Reports of Gericke's work and his claims that hydroponics would revolutionize plant agriculture prompted a huge number of requests for further information. Gericke had been denied use of the University's greenhouses for his experiments due to the administration's skepticism, and when the University tried to compel him to release his preliminary nutrient recipes developed at home he requested greenhouse space and time to improve them using appropriate research facilities. While he was eventually provided greenhouse space, the University assigned Hoagland and Arnon to re-develop Gericke's formula and show it held no benefit over soil grown plant yields, a view held by Hoagland. In 1940, he published the book, Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening, after leaving his academic position in a climate that was politically unfavorable.

Two other plant nutritionists at the University of California were asked to research Gericke's claims. Dennis R. Hoagland[6] and Daniel I. Arnon[7] wrote a classic 1938 agricultural bulletin, The Water Culture Method for Growing Plants Without Soil,.[8] Hoagland and Arnon claimed that hydroponic crop yields were no better than crop yields with good-quality soils. Crop yields were ultimately limited by factors other than mineral nutrients, especially light. This research, however, overlooked the fact that hydroponics has other advantages including the fact that the roots of the plant have constant access to oxygen and that the plants have access to as much or as little water as they need. This is important as one of the most common errors when growing is over- and under- watering; and hydroponics prevents this from occurring as large amounts of water can be made available to the plant and any water not used, drained away, recirculated, or actively aerated, eliminating anoxic conditions, which drown root systems in soil. In soil, a grower needs to be very experienced to know exactly how much water to feed the plant. Too much and the plant will not be able to access oxygen; too little and the plant will lose the ability to transport nutrients, which are typically moved into the roots while in solution. These two researchers developed several formulas for mineral nutrient solutions, known as Hoagland solution. Modified Hoagland solutions are still used today.

One of the earliest successes of hydroponics occurred on Wake Island, a rocky atoll in the Pacific Ocean used as a refuelling stop for Pan American Airlines. Hydroponics was used there in the 1930s to grow vegetables for the passengers. Hydroponics was a necessity on Wake Island because there was no soil, and it was prohibitively expensive to airlift in fresh vegetables.

In the 1960s, Allen Cooper of England developed the Nutrient film techniqueThe Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center opened in 1982 and prominently features a variety of hydroponic techniques. In recent decades, NASA has done extensive hydroponic research for their Controlled Ecological Life Support System or CELSS. Hydroponics intended to take place on Mars are using LED lighting to grow in different color spectrum with much less heat.

ORIGIN :

Soilless culture :

Gericke originally defined hydroponic as crop growth in mineral nutrient solutions. Hydroponics is a subset of soilless culture. Many types of soilless culture do not use the mineral nutrient solutions required for hydroponics.

Plants that are not traditionally grown in a climate would be possible to grow using a controlled environment system like hydroponics. NASA has also looked to utilize hydroponics in the space program. Ray Wheeler,a plant physiologist at Kennedy Space Center’s Space Life Science Lab, believes that hydroponics will create advances within space travel. He terms this as a bioregenerative life support system.

Techniques :

The two main types of hydroponics are solution culture and medium culture. Solution culture does not use a solid medium for the roots, just the nutrient solution. The three main types of solution cultures are static solution culture, continuous-flow solution culture and aeroponics. The medium culture method has a solid medium for the roots and is named for the type of medium, e.g., sand culture, gravel culture, or rockwool culture.

There are two main variations for each medium, sub-irrigation and top irrigation[specify]. For all techniques, most hydroponic reservoirs are now built of plastic, but other materials have been used including concrete, glass, metal, vegetable solids, and wood. The containers should exclude light to prevent algae growth in the nutrient solution.

 

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