Hydroponics is a technique that grows vegetables without using the soil, through the administration of nutritious substances necessary for the development of the plant.You probably have already gone to the supermarket and seen, among the vegetables, the hydroponic lettuce. However, have you ever wondered what that means? Next, we’ll talk about hydroponics (from the Greek: hydro = water and ponos = work), a plant-growing technique that does not use the soil .
The term hydroponics was first used in 1937 by William Frederick Gericke, the researcher who first used this technique for commercial purposes . Nowadays, hydroponics is used in several parts of the world, even being used by NASA to cultivate species in their space travel.
Hydroponics is given to the set of techniques for plant cultivation that are based on the use of nutritive solutions to provide the plant with the mineral nutrients necessary for its development . In this type of planting, the nutrients that will be supplied to the plant are controlled, and the soil is not used, as the plant can be cultivated submerged in a nutrient solution, with the roots suspended in the air receiving nebulizations, or even on substrates that are not chemically active. . There are also systems in which the nutrient solution circulates, and others in which this solution remains un circulated, but it must be changed periodically.
By regulating what the plant receives and keeping it in a protected environment, greater productivity, greater water savings and less use of fertilizers and pesticides are obtained . In addition, it is not necessary to carry out crop rotation techniques , and the plants are protected from some natural phenomena, such as frosts and intense rains .
However, it is important to highlight the fact that hydroponics is a technique that needs investments and specialized labor, so the high cost of implementation is its biggest disadvantage . In addition, care should be taken with contamination and constant analysis of the nutrient solutions that are provided to the vegetable. It must not be forgotten that system failures can represent losses in production.
→ Types of hydroponics
Hydroponics can be classified into four types:
- Didactic Hydroponics: It only has a didactic function, without the need for a large infrastructure.
- Scientific hydroponics: Used for studies related to mineral nutrition, therefore, it presents a more complex infrastructure than didactics. In this type of hydroponics, the addition of any substance is done carefully in order to understand the operation of the vegetable.
- Ornamental Hydroponics: Used for decorating environments. As in didactics, a large infrastructure is not used.
- Commercial hydroponics: In this case, hydroponics is for profit and therefore needs a large infrastructure. Because of its characteristics, high financial investment is required.
→ Use of hydroponics
When we think about the process, we clearly understand that all plants could be cultivated through hydroponics , since the vegetables would receive the necessary nutrients for development. However, for economic purposes, the process is more suitable for small plants. Currently, several species are grown in this way, such as lettuce, tomato, cabbage, chives, coriander, rosemary, anthurium, grape, melon, corn, among others .