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Understanding Hydroponics

Understanding Hydroponics

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Published by: Moseyspeed on Oct 26, 2010
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TECHNICAL PAPER #63UNDERSTANDING HYDROPONICSByMark AndersonLarry BloomCharles QueenMona RuttenbergKristine StroadSamart SukanitDan ThomasTechnical ReviewersRalph P. PrinceWalter G. RosenRonald A. StanleyPublished ByVITA1600 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 500Arlington, Virginia 22209 USATel: 703/276-1800 . Fax: 703/243-1865Internet: pr-info@vita.orgUnderstanding HydroponicsISBN: 0-86619-282-4[C]1989, Volunteers in Technical AssistancePREFACEThis paper is one of a series published by volunteers in TechnicalAssistance to provide an introduction to specific state-of-the-arttechnologies of interest to people in developing countries.The papers are intended to be used as guidelines to helppeople choose technologies that are suitable to their situations.
They are not intended to provide construction or implementationdetails. People are urged to contact VITA or a similar organizationfor further information and technical assistance if theyfind that a particular technology seems to meet their needs.The papers in the series were written, reviewed, and illustratedalmost entirely by VITA Volunteer technical experts on a purelyvoluntary basis. Some 500 volunteers were involved in the productionof the first 100 titles issued, contributing approximately5,000 hours of their time. VITA staff included Suzanne Brooks andPatrice Matthews handling typesetting and layout, and MargaretCrouch as editor and project manager.Co-authors Mark Anderson, Larry Bloom, Charles Queen, MonaRuttenberg, Samart Sukanit, and Dan Thomas originally wrote upthis project as a thesis for their curriculum in technologyeducation at West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia,under the guidance of Dr. Edward Pytlik. Kristine Stroadis a freelance technical writer/edit who has experience in Kenya,in Thailand for VITA, and with the United Nations in Geneva.VITA Volunteer reviewer Ralph Prince is an agricultural engineerwith the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. ReviewersWalter Rosen and Ronald Stanley are also VITA Volunteers. Dr.Rosen, a botanist, is on the Board of Biology for the NationalResearch Council. Dr. Stanley, senior biological policy analystat the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is a plant physiologistwith experience in Greece, Hong Kong, China, and the Caribbean.VITA is a private, nonprofit organization that supports peopleworking on technical problems in developing countries. VITAoffers information and assistance aimed at helping individualsand groups to select and implement technologies appropriate totheir situations. VITA maintains an international Inquiry Service,a specialized documentation center, and a computerizedroster of volunteer technical consultants; manages long-termfield projects; and publishes a variety of technical manuals andpapers.UNDERSTANDING HYDROPONICSby Mark Anderson, Larry Bloom, Charles Queen,Mona Ruttenberg, Kristine Stroad, Samart Sukanit, and Dan ThomasI. INTRODUCTION
Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil. The name "hydroponics"implies that the plants are grown in water. Actuallythe plants are usually grown in "growing beds" that may be filledwith gravel or sand or other material, and they get the nutrientsthey need from a water solution added to the beds.Some of the important advantages of successful hydroponics oversoil culture are:o Yields in hydroponics can be as much as ten times greater thanin soil culture;o Plants need less space in hydroponics because the nutrientsare concentrated;o The nutrient solution is re-used, so the amount of water neededis much smaller;o The nutrients are easier to test and adjust to growing conditions;ando Labor costs are lower.Another feature of a well-designed hydroponics system is that itdoes not pollute the environment.Hydroponics is used mainly as a controlled system for the productionof out of season crops, for growing crops in areas where thesoil is not suitable for cultivation, or where water supply islimited. It is also useful for studies in plant nutrition, plantdiseases, and plant breeding, where growth under exact conditionsis needed. Almost any type of plant can be grown hydroponically.Home gardeners can set up small hydroponics systems in theirhomes to grow a few crops for home use. In cold climates, largegreenhouses are used for profitable hydroponics enterprisesproviding high quality, out of season produce. A hydroponicsenterprise in a warm climate could also be feasible, using alocally-built screened structure to give a growing environmentthat can be kept free from insects and other pests and reduceheat and humidity.Hydroponics is intensive agriculture that makes sense in a worldwhere farmlands are disappearing and there is a need for quality,locally-produced food.

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