History of Hydroponics

Often when talking about the first hydroponics, people generally talk of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon. However, recent research suggests that this may not necessarily be the case. It has been suggested that The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were actually in Nineveh, which is near the modern city of Mosul. Whether The Hanging Gardens were in Babylon or Nineveh, they were not strictly hydroponic as they still used soil. The first truly hydroponic method was developed in the 19th century by Julius von Sachs and Wilhelm Knop and following this in the 1920s, the first complete nutrient solutions were developed by William Gericke. This is ultimately what is being used now as the basis for hydroponic solutions. Whilst  in Wold War II, the US Army used hydroponic techniques while stationed on the Pacific Islands, so that they were able to enjoy fresh food. Then, in the 1970s Dr Allen Cooper developed a new hydroponic technique that is still being using today - Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), which initially was used to grow tomatoes. Today, hydroponic methods are spreading throughout the world and hydroponic installations can be found all over the globe, from Australia to America, Spain to Thailand. Many commercial growers now use hydroponic techniques to produce such items as lettuce and tomatoes, on a large scale.

Commercial crop growers have been using hydroponic techniques for many years. The reason for this is because these methods allow the growers more control over their growing environment and therefore, are able to produce a high quality crop. The worry about soil borne pests and disease are reduced dramatically and weeding is considered a thing of the past. The rapid harvests and the higher yields are some of the reasons why commercial growers use these methods; in addition to the fact that it is often the only way to make it viable.

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    Iain Reynolds

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