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Mixing Custom Hydroponic Nutrient Solutions


What is Hydroponics?

 Hydroponics is the science of growing plants without soil. Instead of soil, plants are grown in solutions containing all the necessary mineral elements. Methods used to get the nutrients to the roots, along with the needed oxygen, include bare-root systems and systems using inert substrates to support the plants.

Hydro means water.

Water is a vital part of every living cell, and is the key element for life to exist on earth. Plants also need nutrient elements such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Copper, Iron, Boron, etc. to grow properly. Basically, plants use water to transport the required nutrient elements through their roots to feed the rest of the plant. Traditionally, these nutrient elements are obtained from the soil. The plant roots grow out searching for the nutrient elements and the water needed to take them up. However, the soil typically does not contain the precise optimum nutrients and moisture levels the plant needs.

 Hydroponics is all about enriching water by creating and maintaining a “nutrient solution” that is perfectly balanced for the plant. When the plant gets exactly, everything it wants, all the time, it will grow as fast, and provide the best flavor and nutritional value, that it possibly can.

  Hydroponics is growing plants without soil. Absolutely anything that can be grown in soil can be grown hydroponically. The key is determining the precise, ideal, nutrient solution for the specific plant, and consistently providing it to the roots. Typically, by using a general purpose hydroponic nutrient, plants will outperform soil grown plants in the same environment.

 The science of hydroponics began with experiments to determine the elementary nutrient requirements of plants and how plants processed those elements. That knowledge has evolved into the desire to automate the delivery of the precise nutrient mix to the plant to optimize the growth and quality of the plants. Further, the fine tuning of varying the nutrient mix not only for specific plants, but also varying the nutrient mix for the specific stage of growth. For example, we know plants use more Nitrogen during the green growth phase, and more Phosphorus during the flowering and fruit production stage. Additionally, plants will adapt and do what they can to survive when subjected to less than ideal conditions. These less than ideal conditions slow down the growth, and can seriously affect the quality and flavor of the plant.

 One major objective of hydroponics is to provide the ideal nutritional environment for optimum plant performance. Although technically not part of hydroponics, hydroponic growers typically attempt to provide other ideal environmental factors as well. Plant performance can be further optimized by controlling temperature, humidity, and lighting. Using a greenhouse provides natural lighting while controlling temperature and humidity. Using supplemental lighting can also provide the ideal season for the plant performance desired. Advances in technology in lighting, nutrient delivery, and environmental control, will continue to improve productivity and quality of plant performance.

 Plants grown hydroponically are generally healthier than their soil-grown counter-parts, since they receive a near-perfectly balanced diet. Additionally, the plants rarely come in contact with soil-borne pests and diseases. Without the use of herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides, the resulting produce is healthier to eat. Additionally, agricultural workers are not exposed to toxic chemicals, and labor costs are reduced. Since hydroponic systems reduce water and nutrient stress to the plants, crops grow faster and can be grown closer together without starving each other. Healthier plants also contribute to higher yields.

  Perfect plant conditions results in perfect plant production. Hydroponic systems conserve water by preventing evaporation and runoff. Losses due to drought and flooding are significantly reduced as well. Regions where water is scarce, or without adequate soil conditions, can grow crops using hydroponics.

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