Plant World

Soil, Gardening, and Farming

What is hydroponics?

This term refers to growing plants in some medium other than soil; the inorganic plant nutrients (such as potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and nitrogen) are continuously supplied to the plants in solution. Hydroponics is mostly used in areas where there is little soil or unsuitable soil. Since it allows precise control of nutrient levels and oxygenation of the roots, it is often used to grow plants used for research purposes. Julius von Sachs (1832–1897), a researcher in plant nutrition, pioneered modern hydroponics. Research plants have been grown in solution culture since the mid-1800s. William Gericke (1882–1970), a scientist at the University of California, defined the word hydroponics in 1937. In the 50 years that hydroponics has been used on a commercial basis, it has been adapted to many situations. NASA will be using hydroponics in the space station for crop production and to recycle carbon dioxide into oxygen. Although successful for research, hydroponics has many limitations and may prove frustrating for the amateur gardener.


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