Ever wondered where and how hydroponics started? In this brief overview we discuss the Basic History of Hydroponics.
Hydroponics basically means working water (“hydro” means “water” and “ponos” means “labor”).
Many different civilisations have used hydroponic growing techniques throughout history. As noted by Howard M. Resh in Hydroponic Food Production (Fifth Edition, Woodbridge Press, 1997, page 23) “The hanging gardens of Babylon, the floating gardens of the Aztecs of Mexico and those of the Chinese
are examples of ‘Hydroponic’ culture. Egyptian hieroglyphic records dating back several hundred years B.C. describe the growing of plants in water.”
Hydroponics is hardly a new method of growing plants and has been around for centuries. However, giant leaps have been made over the years in this highly innovative area of agriculture.
Throughout the last century, scientists and horticulturists experimented with different methods of hydroponics. One of the potential applications of hydroponics that drove research was for growing fresh produce in areas of the world, where it is normally impossible. It is a simple fact that some people cannot grow in the soil as a medium in their country (if there is even any soil at all). The application of hydroponics was tested during World War II. Troops stationed on nonarable islands in the Pacific were supplied with fresh produce grown in locally
established hydroponic systems.
Later in the century, hydroponics was integrated into the space program.
As NASA considered the practicalities of locating a society on another plant or the Earth’s moon, hydroponics easily fit into their sustainability plans. But by the 1970’s, it wasn’t just scientists and analysts who were involved in hydroponics. Traditional farmers and eager hobbyists began to be attracted to the virtues of hydroponic growing.
A few of the positive aspects of hydroponics that attract commercial and hobbyist users include:
- The ability to produce higher yields than traditional, soil-based agriculture.
- Allowing food to be grown and consumed in areas of the world that cannot support crops in the soil.
- Eliminating the need for massive pesticide use (considering most pests live in the soil).
This effectively makes our air, water, soil, and food cleaner. Commercial growers are flocking to hydroponics like never before. The ideals surrounding these growing techniques touch on subjects that most people care about, such as helping end world hunger and making the world cleaner safer place.
In addition to the extensive research that is going on, everyday people from all over the world have been building (or purchasing) their own systems to grow great-tasting, fresh food for their family and friends. Educators are realizing the amazing applications that hydroponics can have in the classroom. And ambitious individuals are striving to make their dreams come true by making their living in their backyard greenhouse, selling their produce to local markets and restaurants.
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