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The History of Hydroponic Systems

Taken from the Greek words ‘hydro,’ which means water and ‘ponos,’ which means labor, hydroponics is a method of growing plants using nutrients, water and light. Contrary to popular belief, hydroponic growing techniques are not a new development. In fact, hydroponic systems have been around since the ancient times, though the methods used then were cruder and less efficient.

Still, the technique of growing plants without soil has been passed down from generation to generation throughout history. Historians even believe that the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, were one of the first ancient hydroponic systems.

As the centuries passed, more and more innovations are being made to improve this agriculture niche. However, it was only in the last hundred years where horticulturists and scientists began to make great strides in developing new growing methods and hydroponic systems. These developments were borne out of a need to apply hydroponics in growing plants, fruits and vegetables in some of the planet’s most inhospitable locations. Hydroponics has also been considered for non-arable areas, such as deserts and bases in the Antarctic. Perhaps even more impressive is the research being done on hydroponics by NASA, who plans on using it in the ISS and space missions to the Moon and Mars.

Despite all these amazing applications, hydroponics still has its roots in people who grow plants, fruits and vegetables in their own farms or homes. Hydroponic systems are particularly appealing to hobbyists because they allow just about anyone to enjoy the benefits of growing produce and ornamental plants and flowers, without needing soil plots or a large growing space. Indeed, hydroponic systems can easily be placed almost anywhere inside a house, apartment or dorm room. And if that’s not enough, the proper utilization of hydroponic techniques even results in higher yields compared to conventional soil-based gardening.

Hydroponics is also becoming popular thanks to the rising demand of organic fruits and vegetables. Because hydroponics eliminates the need for pesticides, plants are healthier and safer, while the air, water and grow media used is significantly cleaner. 

With the demand for food an all time high, hydroponics is becoming an increasingly attractive option for people to meet their own needs. This method of farming is also being looked at in an effort to help impoverished countries that have very little arable land. At the rate its going, you can expect hydroponics to become a fixture in the way we accommodate our food supply over the next few years.