Almost any plant can be grown with hydroponics under artificial or natural lighting and in almost any place in the world without worries of temperature changes, growing seasons, and climate changes. The environment for growing hydroponic plants is tightly
Mineral: A naturally occurring solid substance of nonbiological origin, having definite chemical composition and crystal structure.
Nutrient: A substance that provides nourishment.
pH: A measurement of the concentration of hydrogen ions in a solution of water. A
neutral solution with equivalent amounts of hydrogen and hydroxyl ions has a pH of 7.0 at room temperature. Acidic solutions have a pH of less than 7.0 and basic (alkaline) solutions have a pH of more than 7.0.
Physiologist: A person who studies living plants.
controlled with respect to humidity (water content in the air), temperature, and pH levels (a chemical measure of acidity) so plants grow as best as possible. This technology is sometimes called Soil-less/Controlled Environment Agriculture (S/CEA). Some illegal activities, such as the growing of marijuana, utilize hydroponics. Such activities have given a bad name to hydroponics in the past and still somewhat hurt the industry.
Hydroponic farming tends to involve more expenses than traditional farming. As a result, few large-scale commercial hydroponic farms exist in the United States. The largest commercial facility in the United States is located in Wilcox, Arizona. The company has about 265 acres (107 hectares) used for hydroponic farming, which is about one-third of all the hydroponic acreage in the United States. Though expenses are greater, much less water is used—as little as one-twentieth the amount.
Hydroponic farming generally requires greater technical knowledge than traditional farming. It also requires more equipment. Maintenance of the equipment and materials is more time consuming and expensive. The failure rate of hydroponic plants is higher because any leak in the system can kill the plants that require very controlled conditions to grow.
Many false and misleading statements have been made in regard to hydroponics. For example, the claim that hydroponic farming produces greater crop yields than traditional farming is false. In addition, hydroponic plants do not necessarily taste better or are more nutritious than traditionally grown foods. Such claims have hurt the industry in the past, but have become a less serious problem.
For More Information
Gericke, William Frederick. The Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1940.
''Homepage of Eurofresh Farms.'' Eurofresh Farms. <http://www. eurofresh.com/> (accessed July 26, 2006).
''Homepage of Homegrown Hydroponics, Inc.'' Homegrown Hydroponics, Inc. <http://www.hydroponics.com/index.html> (accessed July 26, 2006).
''Homepage of Hydroponic Merchants Association.'' Hydroponics Merchants Association (HMA). <http://hydromerchants.org/> (accessed July 26, 2006).
Jones, J. Benton. Hydroponics: A Practical Guide for the Soilless Grower. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2005.
[See Also Vol. 2, Agriculture; Vol. 2, Tomato, Genetically Engineered.]
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