Hydroponics relies on adding nutrients to the water which makes the nutritional components provided to the plant considerably easier to manipulate according to requirements. The growth of the plant can be controlled to a far greater extent than with conventional agriculture. With full control of light and temperature levels the growing season can be extended to all year round and growth can be maximised. With absolute nutritional control differing elements of plant growth can be encouraged- emphasising leaf or root or flower growth as is required.
Hydroponics has really taken off over the last few years, but it is a surprisingly ancient method of cultivation with roots going back at least as far as 1627 when it was proposed in Francis Bacon’s Sylva Sylvarum. The basic principle is simply to provide everything that growing plants need using water rather than soil as the growing medium.
Hydroponic equipment divides into three main categories: basic structure, such as piping; additives, particularly nutrients; and atmospheric control, mostly lighting units, but also heaters or fans. The amount and type of equipment required in these basic categories will vary according to scale of operation with a hobbyist gardener perhaps only requiring a very minimal set-up of lamps and portable grow tent with very basic nutritional additives, while a professional grower will clearly require far more equipment and of a more specialised kind. Even at the domestic level, however, as with any hobby the opportunities for deeper involvement are there, with books and pest control products and portable hydroponic tents only a small selection of the extra equipment available for those who wish to take their interest further. For professional business use the equipment needs are inevitably scaled up, with the possible necessities extending to central controlling units to coordinate the different environmental factors, carbon filters to ensure the air quality is optimum, and biological controls to efficiently deal with pests in an environmentally friendly fashion.