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All You Need is Water, Sun, and not Soil?

By Amanda Chu 

Amanda Chu, an AMP volunteer, discusses hydroponics and its advantages for our food system. 

“When we were young, we learned that all we need to grow food and plants are water, sun, and soil. But what if I told you that we don’t necessarily need all three?

Hydroponics is the method of growing plants without soil. Not too long ago, my science class took on the endeavor of growing clover using only baby clover plants, water, fertilizer, Styrofoam, and string. You might be able to imagine the bizarre experiments our class came up with. Most weren’t very effective, but after weeks of trial and error, the plant grew.

 After experimenting with hydroponics, we learned about the established techniques. Hydroponics works by having nutrients directly transported to the plant’s roots, instead of through soil. Techniques include: continuous-flow solution culture, where the nutrient solution flows past the roots; aeroponics, in which the nutrient solution is applied to the roots in a mist; and fogponics, an advanced form of aeroponics which uses vaporized water to transfer nutrients. All of these vastly different techniques have one thing in common: they are revolutionizing food culture.

The impacts of hydroponics are amazing and astonishing. Urban areas, where land cannot be spared for farming, can now afford fresh grown crops on roofs or in basements. For hydroponics, no yard is needed, allowing greater versatility and flexibility. Additionally, water can be reused and saved unlike with standard gardening. Hydroponic systems are affordable (I mean, my science class did it!), can yield better results using a smaller structure, can be used year-round, and has a positive environmental impact in the form of decreased land, water, and fertilizer use.

Hydroponics reduces the resources needed to grow food, making the process cheaper, and serving as a desperately needed method to help feed the hungry and alleviate poverty. Plus, hydroponics is optimal for space travel!

Now this is what I call a better and greener future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image source: Frank Fox

https://www.flickr.com/photos/colorfulfoxes/

About Toni O'Boyle

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