Hydroponics Essay

2483 words - 10 pages

Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil. It was developed from the findings of experiments carried out to determine what substances make plants grow and the composition of plants. This dates back as early as the 1600s. Plants were being grown in a soil less culture far earlier than this. There were hanging gardens in Babylon, floating gardens of the Aztecs of Mexico, and the Chinese also had methods that were examples of "hydroponics" culture. Egyptian hieroglyphic records dating back to several hundred years B.C. described the growing of plants in water.The earliest recorded scientific approach to discover plant constituents was in 1600 when Belgian Jan van Helmont showed in his classical experiment that plants obtain substances or nutrients from water. He planted a 5-pound willow shoot in a tube containing 200 pounds of dried soil that was covered to deep out dust. After five years of rainwater, he found the willow shoot increased in weight by 160 pounds, while the soil lost less than two ounces. His conclusion that plants obtain substances for growth from water was correct. However, he failed to realize that they also require carbon dioxide and oxygen from the air. In 1699, an Englishman named John Woodward grew plants in water containing various types of soil and found that the greatest growth occurred in water, which contained the most soil. He then concluded the plant growth was a result of certain substances in the water, derived from soil, rather than simply from water itself.Further progress in identifying these substances was slow until more sophisticated research techniques were developed and advances were made in the field of chemistry. In the year 1840, De Saussure proposed that plants are composed of chemical elements obtained from water, soil, and air. Boussingault verified this proposition later in 1851, which was a French chemist. In his experiments his plants grow in sand, quartz, and charcoal to which added solutions of known chemical composition. His conclusion was that water is essential for plant growth in providing hydrogen and that plant contains nitrogen and other mineral elements.In the early 1930s, W.F. Gericke of the University of California put laboratory experiments in plant nutrition on a commercial scale. Doing this he termed these nutriculture systems hydroponics. The word 'hydroponics' is derived from two Greek words hydro (water) and ponos (labor)-literally "water working." He grew vegetables hydroponically, including root crops, such as beets, radishes, carrots and potatoes, cereal crops, fruits, ornamentals and flowers. Using water culture in large tanks he grew tomatoes to such heights that he had to harvest them with a ladder.His application of hydroponics soon proved itself by providing food for troops stationed on no arable islands in the Pacific in the early 1940s. In 1945 the U.S. Air Force solved its problem of providing its personnel with fresh vegetables by practicing hydroponics on a large...

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