What is hydroponics?

What is hydroponics?
19/01/2015 Margarida Moreira

Hydroponics is the perfect fusion of science and art in agriculture. Hydroponics word of Greek origin, is formed by the composition of two words: hydro meaning water and ponos, which is work.

The technique despite being ancient (Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Aztec ‘floating gardens’ in Mexico (Chinampa) and water crops in ancient Egypt), was officially recognized by the appearance of the word “hydroponics”, created by Dr. Gericke of the University of California, in 1935. the technique allows to grow plants without the traditional physical support – soil or substrate – as a source of nutrition (“farming without soil”).

In hydroponics, the mineral elements and essential nutrients for growth and development of the plant are incorporated in drinking water (i.e.: fertirrigation, moisturizes, nourishes and fertilizes), forming a nutritious and balanced solution which is the only source of nutrients available for hydroponic crops. The nutrient solution can be reusable (recycle, disinfected and analyzed, returning the system to be introduced) or not (in each irrigation cycle a new solution is injected).

All nutrients are supplied in exact, essential and appropriate amount for each cultivated plant species, the pH must also be strictly controlled. In addition to the nutrient solution are required there is a means of contact with the roots, a reservoir for storing the solution and support for the plant. In commercial use, must be used greenhouses for greater control and can use pumps, timers and computer systems to automate and reduce costs. Hydroponics can be grown at home and in vertical gardens.

Hydroponics adopts various systems, differing in plant stand and how to contact the nutrient solution with the roots. The plants are placed in pipes, channels or vessels that allow the circulation of nutrient solution (stagnant water induce rot of plants, and the emergence of phytosanitary issues). It is for the farmer, engineer or technician to decide if the plants are to be suspended in the liquid medium or supported on a static substrate (e.g. sand, gravel, perlite, rock wool, coconut fiber …). Generally, the roots are in darkness to avoid the appearance of algae and are steeped in water containing essential nutrients and minerals for growth and development of plants (nutrient solution) and are suspended by rafts – polystyrene plates with holes.


  • Reduced risk of incidence of pests and diseases (especially radicular)
  • Absence of weeds
  • Proper nutrition
  • Water stress Absence
  • Higher production per area
  • Less labor work (no crop rotation, plowing, fertilizing ..)


  • The implementation of the hydroponic system is expensive
  • Fungal diseases
  • Electricity dependence.

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