- Category: Living Green
11 Jul 2013
- Published on Thursday, 11 July 2013 07:46
- Hits (5747)
By Aby League
For the uninitiated, hydroponics is simply the soilless growing of plants. The plant is cultivated with its roots in a mineral nutrient solution or in an inert (stuff that are almost non-reactive) medium, like coconut husk and gravel.
Many people are of the opinion that unlike the other ways we have messed around with the natural order, we should leave the way we grow food as is: with good ol’ reliable dirt. If we are what we eat and if soil and arable land has worked for hundreds of years for mankind, why mess around with it? It might mess around with our insides, which is why the biggest issue about hydroponics is health. Concerns about the effect of hydroponically grown food on our long-term well-being come from the fact that the nutrient solutions fed into the plants may be filled with artificially produced ingredients, which have been modified to be water soluble.
However, there are many advantages to hydroponics that have unnoticeably contributed to our general well-being, two of which I have listed below:
- Portability. One of the greatest advantages of hydroponics is its portability. If you knew that plants have a growing zone, you would know that specific plants grow in specific conditions of temperature, soil nutrient content, and light, and that not all plants can be grown everywhere. That is why in areas where sunlight is as abundant as water is scarce such as the Middle East, hydroponic systems are extensively used to produce vegetables, fruits, and other crops that could not be grown otherwise. For less life-sustaining agricultural needs like the above, if you want to grow a specific type of plant as a hobby or as a quick source of healthy and organic ingredients for your five-minute meals, knowing your plant’s growing zone would not be completely necessary as well.
- Eco-friendly. Since half of its name pertains to water, you must be thinking that hydroponics is wasting a huge amount of that precious liquid resource. However, since water is produced and reused by the whole system, meaning that the plant reprocesses the water it intakes, hydroponics actually uses 10% less water than soil-based agriculture.
Another great extra for the environment and a hit on the health issue is that since hydroponic systems may be built within a controlled setting such as a hydroponic greenhouse, pests are not a significant threat, removing the need for pesticide.
When we get down to it, hydroponics is another way that we as a species have learned to adapt to our changing environment. Ensuring our food security by adopting less environment damaging methods of growing our food might do more for our health than worrying about the nutrient solution. Technology will find a way to make that healthier: we can’t afford to lose the advantages we might gain from developing this technology further.
If you want to talk unhealthy, let’s talk about fast food...
Aby League is a researcher specializing in the fields of Science, Medicine and Technology. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and is currently taking her Master’s while working as a freelance writer and researcher.