(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: Yojana Magazine – The Emergence of Hydroponics

Yojana Magazine

The Emergence of Hydroponics

Ever wondered, living in an urban landscape
comprising of only concrete platform, where sight of a clean open land for
cultivation is a far fetched dream, is there any possibility of growing your
choicest plants and tasting your favorite vegetables grown in your own “farm”?
In the first instance, most may just laugh over it. One would wonder how it is
possible for a plant to grow without soil & without access to nutrients. Well
it’s no longeran impossibility. Basically, plants needs light, oxygen, carbon
dioxide, water and nutrients (17 essential nutrients). Soil is the medium for
water and nutrient. In a city, it is difficult to expect enough land and soil to
grow plants because it is almost fully covered by concrete and in other areas,
soil is exposed to heavy pollution. We can however, have a plant cultivated not
in field but on desk, let’s say it’s called Desktop Cultivation.

Q. What is Hydrophonics? Discuss its benefits and
drawbacks.

Answer: Hydroponics (from the Greek words
hydro, water and ponos, labor) is a technology for growing plants in nutrient
elements needed for optimum plant growth with or without the use of an
inertmedium such as gravel, vermiculite, rockwool, peatmoss, saw dust, coir
dust, coconut fiber. The term Hydroponicswas coined by ProfessorWilliamFrederick
Gericke of the University of California at Berkeley in the year 1937
(`Hydroponics’, an Italian term that connotes water working and was coined in
the 1930s). Gericke created a sensation by growing tomato vines twenty-five feet
high in his back yard in Benefits:

  • Utilization of space: one of the main advantages
    of hydroponics is the possibility of using urban spaces which hitherto had
    not been considered adequate for growing food i.e. balconies, small gardens,
    party walls, rooftops.

  • Optimum water consumption: water is recycled and
    does not pollute the environment. : It’s a “3R” technology. Where water is
    reduced, reused and recycled in the process of cultivation of crops.

  • Hydroponic products are healthier: Pesticides
    are rarely used in hydroponics and pests and diseases that affect crops come
    from their direct contact with the soil are also absent.


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Table. Vegetable production in Hydroponics

Vegetables Area in m2  Grams per Day
Carrot 2 113
Cucumber 1 226
Garlic 1 57
Ginger 1 57
Leek 1 57
Lettuce 1 226
Green Bean 1 113
Onion 2 113
Peapod 1 113
Potato 4 226
Salad greens 1 226
Greens 2 226
Tomato 2 226
Total: 20 1979
  • No crop rotation: with hydroponic gardening
    there is no need to practice crop rotation. The reason for crop rotation is
    because certain plants “leach” certain element out of the soil, rendering
    the soil useless for extended use by the same crop. With a hydroponic
    system, the same type of plant can be grown year after year.

  • Saved time Since the hydroponics system uses a
    sterile environment, weeds are generally absent and thus there is efficient
    use of time and labor.

  • Better control: Hydroponic systems allowbetter
    control over such things like pHconditions. This is something that can be
    difficult to regulate with traditional growing methods.

  • Intangible benefits: Hydroponics can be a
    recreational and enjoyable pastime. Elderly people, children, stressed-out
    executives, individuals with various degrees of disability, and even busy
    housewives can find a source of permanent satisfaction in hydroponics.
    Disadvantage/Draw Backs

  • Initial cost is more: Here the basic cost is
    more due to requirement of plastic or wood tubs, pumps, timer, pipes, pH and
    EC meter.

  • Requires specialized knowledge: It is necessary
    for solution preparation, maintenance of pH and EC, nutrient deficiency
    judgment and correction, ensuring aeration, maintenance of favorable
    condition inside protected structures, etc.

Conclusion

Hydroponics has taken plant cultivation to the next
level. In a country like India, where urban concrete conglomerate is growing
each day, there is no option but to innovate to help improve production and
produce healthier plants. Though the initial cost is high, there are many
advantages of growing plants using hydroponics. Not only does it need less space
and time for growth, but it also helps in water conservation and nutrients
recycling. Especially for people living in urban areas where there is massive
space constraint, this technique can help to realize your dream of having your
next meal from your own farm produce.


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