History of Hydroponics

A few years ago not many people would have been familiar with the term ‘Hydroponics’, For many people the first that they would have heard about Hydroponics would have been through watching a futuristic movie, where a group of survivalists or space explorers would have used hydroponics to grow their own food in limited space using water and a growing gel. However it seems that most Supermarkets and grocery stores stock hydroponics Tomatoes and Cucumbers, all year round. And the produce is good.

Hydroponic gardening is not an new age or futuristic invention, it has actually been in use in one form or other since 600 BC. It has been thought that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were based on what we now know to be soilless gardening which forms the basis of hydroponic gardening. The Aztecs, due to their relocation could not actually plant crops in the swampy shore line so they developed rafts that were given a thin layer of soil, planted with crops and then anchored off the shoreline so the plants could benefit from the hydration and their roots would grow down through the raft. This was a similar system that was used by the ancient Chinese to grow crops.

It was not until the 17th Century in Britain, that a scientist actually started on in-depth research into the benefits of soilless gardening, his work actually started a huge interest and by the end of the 1600’s John Woodward, a scientist started to experiment with growing spearmint hydroponically. For anyone who has any experience of growing mint in their garden will realize that mint will grow profusely in most growing mediums. Woodard experimented using different mediums based on water, his conclusion was that the spearmint pant grew best in a medium of water to which some soil had been added, he put this down to the soil contains minerals that aided root growth to sustain the plant.

By now there was much interest to see if new plants could be grown commercially in a soilless garden. Gericke, in America did much research into the benefits that could be gained crop growth in this fashion, he actually used the term hydroponics. Further work in 1938 by Hoagland and Arnon, developed the nutrient solutions that are still widely used. At this point it should be pointed out that Greicke worked at Berkeley, and he claimed that he had not done any of the research during his time ‘in work’, but law suits prevented him from claiming his right to the discovery, The work was later given to Hoagland and Arnon, who took further research and were then given credit for their work.

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