There hydroponic cultivation it does not require land and can be practiced indoors, in a greenhouse or even at home on a small scale. It is not a new thing because the hydroponic cultivation were already practiced by Egyptians, Babylonians and Aztecs, and the first hydroponic system was marketed in the United States in 1920. Certainly in the hydroponic cultivation ancient, the 'replaced' element was the soil, but today you can (if you wish) also replace the sun with artificial light.
The really new thing about the hydroponic cultivation it is the growing attention around this technique also by the scientific world, which has led to great technological advances. An example is ENEA's Vertical Farm at EXPO Milan, the first Italian prototype of a vertical greenhouse for hydroponic cultivation designed for the production of vegetables without soil consumption. It must be said that along with notoriety there are also criticisms, as is normal, and the debate is fueled with traditionalist growers who highlight the weak points of soilless cultivation.
Hydroponic cultivation: arguments yes
No land is needed so there is no land consumption. At a domestic level a small hydroponic system can give a limited production of vegetables even to those who do not have an open space, at an industrial level it can represent an alternative system of greenhouse cultivation with a high yield and completely seasonally adjustable productions. The technology makes it possible to completely automate the operation of a hydroponic greenhouse and to easily intervene on all factors: nutritional elements, light supply, pesticides. An always-on vegetable factory that can help 'feed the planet' without soil consumption and sheltered from climate change.
Hydroponic cultivation: arguments no
According to critics of hydroponics, vegetables that grow without soil and in the light of lamps do not have the same flavor and nutrient content as those grown on the ground. The nutrients arrive to the plants in an artificial way, deprived of the natural processes that occur in the soil also thanks to the contribution of many microorganisms. In hydroponic cultivation, even more than in traditional greenhouse cultivation, the weight of chemistry increases (for the administration of nutrients) and the use of pesticides. In the production of food at home, the quality of hydroponic vegetables is not comparable to that of a traditional garden on the ground, much less compared to a biodynamic garden or a synergistic garden. A hydroponic cultivation consumes more energy than a traditional cultivation.
Do-it-yourself hydroponic cultivation
Given the things that it is good to know when looking out for something new, let's see how it works hydroponic cultivation and how it can be started at home with DIY. First of all it must be said that there are two systems:
- hydroponic cultivation without substrate in which the roots are in the open air: aeroponics, hydroculture, floating, nutrient film technique;
- hydroponic cultivation with substrate in which the roots are contained in supporting materials such as rock wool, perlite, straw, peat, coconut peat and others;
Since there is no soil in any case, but only possibly root support material, the plants receive nourishment through irrigation with drip systems or by sub-irrigation. The sunlight, when it is not there, can be replaced by the use of lamps mounted with special measures.
But let's face it: building a good system from scratch DIY hydroponic cultivation it is not easy and you can get there better after doing a little practice, and perhaps intervening on a basic kit of those that you buy online with everything you need. A good and practical one to start with is the Indoor Hydroponics Kit
Meanwhile, you can learn more about the technique with a manual like The hydroponic garden. Professionally cultivate soilless in the home environment
Also, if you are interested in starting a do-it-yourself hydroponics, you can read the instructions in the articleHydroponic cultivation at home.