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Thursday, March 3, 2011

HYDROPONICS; FARMING WITOUT SOIL

Hydroponics is an unconventional growing technique. It is the cultivation of plants in water. The idea of hydroponics comes from the assumption that plants do not need soil as such. They need only the nutrients and moisture in the soil, and these can be supplied through gravel beds that contain water.
Hydroponics is not a new process. As long ago as 1690, an English physician tried growing plants in water in a laboratory experiment. In 1800 some German researchers used the method to develop many of the formulas for plants nutrient solutions which are still in use today. About a generation ago, hydroponics move out of the research laboratory into commercial use. In 1936 a Californian physiologist, W.F Gerick, published guidelines for hydroponics agriculture.

One of the leading companies in the field of hydroponics is Hydroponics Incorporated of Glendale, Arizona. It operates about 200 greenhouses on a 48 hectare site. It produces more than 2.7 million kilograms of fruit and vegetables each year mostly tomatoes, but also cucumbers, lettuces and melons. Crop yields are excellent, for example each mature tomato plant produce an average of 12.1 kilos of fruit in a year of two growing cycles. This compares with about 9 kilos for two crops of the average soil grown plant.
Everything is carefully controlled in the greenhouse, the temperature the humidity, and the air circulation. Wind, hail, frost, drought, weeds and insects are all excluded.
In the recent years, hydroponic farming has been expanding in many parts of the world. A hydroponic farm operated by the government of Kuwait produces fresh tomatoes at a desert site near the capital city. At Puerto Penasco, Mexico, and on Sadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, experimental hydroponic farms use sea water that is desalinated by special installation located on the coast.

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