Sir Francis Bacon was the first to publish a work about growing plants without soil in 1627. Since then, scientists have continued to experiment, and today many different types of hydroponics are practiced. Commercial growers use hydroponics to increase crop yield, reduce use of resources and grow food in places where soil cultivation isn't possible.
Home gardeners use hydroponics to increase the amount they can harvest from a small area, which can save money on groceries, if the hydroponics garden is large enough. Many home hydroponics systems are built as a useful hobby. For home gardeners, the most commonly practiced types of hydroponics include:
Standard Hydroponic System. This involves placing plants into a growing medium, then dripping a special nutrient solution onto the medium. The plant absorbs the nutrients it needs and the excess solution drains through the medium into a reservoir underneath the medium, where it is gathered up and sometimes reused.
Deep Water Culture (DWC). In this type of hydroponics, the roots are submerged in the nutrient solution, and a pump with aerating stones similar to those in an aquarium is used to add oxygen to the solution. Oxygen is one of the most important ingredients you need to make hydroponics work successfully.
Nutrient Film Technology (NFT). Considered by some to be the most popular form of hydroponics, this method includes setting up a system in which the nutrient solution can continuously flow past the bare roots of plants. The upper surface of the channel is open to the air, which provides the necessary oxygen. One of the reasons this is such a popular method is that it's easier to get adequate supplies of water, oxygen and nutrients to the plant, which is the main point of hydroponics.
Ebb and Flood Hydroponic Table. This style of hydroponics is similar to the standard system, but instead of dripping the nutrient solution over the medium, the system is set to automatically flood the table with hydroponic nutrient solution, which is then allowed to ebb away through the medium. The solution is pumped back up to the table at timed intervals.
Aeroponics: Watering in the Air
Some gardeners practice aeroponics, a form of hydroponics in which the nutrient solution is provided as a mist to bare roots. Aeroponics gardening offers the advantage of conserving water and energy, while providing generous amounts of oxygen. Aeroponic systems suspend the plant in the air, allowing the entire growth - both roots and crown of the plant - to be exposed to the air. The equipment usually includes some kind of enclosed or partially-enclosed chamber where the roots dangle, and atomized nutrient-rich water is applied to the roots on a regular schedule.
Each method of hydroponics has a number of variations, using different mediums and varied equipment to get different results. There isn't any one right way, and the art and science of hydroponics is still evolving. Maybe you will be the hydroponic gardener to discover the next most effective method.Sir Francis Bacon was the first to publish a work about growing plants without soil in 1627. Since then, scientists have continued to experiment, and today many different types of hydroponics are practiced. Commercial growers use hydroponics to increase crop yield, reduce use of resources and grow food in places where soil cultivation isn't possible.