Towards a Green Future

Hydroponics is spoken about in almost reverent tones. Farmers are fearful of the revolution it presents — tearing up their traditional practices — but with it comes the promise of ever-higher yields. So not only could it solve the problem of feeding our ever-growing population, but as a buy-product, the biggest headline grabber is that it could dramatically reduce farming’s environmental impact, which has one of the worse records of any industry. This makes hydroponics one of the most promising emerging technologies of this decade. 

Let’s take a deep look at this technology, find out what hydroponics is, its benefits and drawbacks, and then see if it can actually be a viable solution and the savior it is hoped to be.

So what is hydroponics? In a nutshell, it is growing plants without soil. A seed is placed into a damp substrate to germinate. This could be shredded coconut mass, foam, or even a porous material like terracotta. It just needs to have a surface the roots can grip to. Once the seed has germinated the substrate is transferred to the hydroponics system where the magic happens. The roots are submerged in nutrient-rich water and artificial light is often provided. The plant can then grow quickly as all of its water, nutrients and light needs are met perfectly, 24/7.