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Ask yourself how much you know about hydroponics and from where did you obtain that information? Many people obtain their knowledge from the internet and the problem with that is that the information is contributed by a plethora of sources, much of it from amateurs. The net result is a mine of confusing information, resulting often in delegates starting on our course with heads-full of bird’s nests (!)

Hydroponics is the growing of plants in nutrient water, without any soil, with or without a medium for support, as opposed to normal soil-based agriculture where the plants derive their nutrition from the minerals in the soil and must be watered regularly for nutrient absorption by the roots to take place.

So that primarily is the precise difference; – in hydroponics the minerals randomly found in the soil are selectively placed in water to give the plants optimal nutrition. But here emphasis must be stressed that the minerals found in the soils are identical in molecular structure to those supplied to the plants in hydroponics. For example, the molecular structure of chalk made in a factory is identical to that found on the White cliffs of Dover.

This then dispels one of the many myths propagated by the protagonists of organics that the minerals used in hydroponics are somehow different from those found in the ground, and one of the keys to unlocking this myth is their propensity for describing these minerals as ‘chemicals’, which contributes to derailing their thinking.
The second myth about hydroponics relates to hydroponic farmers allegedly spraying their crops with chemicals. Now why hydroponic farmers should be singled out for this transgression is a mystery, because pest and disease control is the same for soil-based crops just as it is for hydroponics. As mentioned earlier, the only difference between the two is the form of nutrient application. Pest and disease control in both hydroponics and agriculture has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past few years and nowadays biological remedies are used to control them and not chemicals.

What is a biological remedy? These are usually predatory insects that feed on the pests thereby achieving control or colonising fungi that crowd out the disease-causing fungus and eliminates it. There are now hosts of theses biologicals available for almost any pest and disease known and many others are fast being developed.

One organics protagonist was once heard to say “but the ‘chemicals’ in hydroponics have no life force”! She was referring to the identical nutrient minerals found in both soils and hydroponics. Of course if they had no life force neither agriculture nor hydroponics would even be possible.

DaisyFresh Hydroponics gives courses in hydroponics – go to www.hydroponicssouthafrica.co.za for more info.

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Hydroponics, the scientific growing of fruits and vegetables without soil in a water soluble nutrient fertiliser solution cuts out much of the intensive labour and ‘dirty work’ involved when planting in open ground. Also, irrigation is made very easy as it is already part of the nutrient feeding system in hydroponics and not a separate activity. read more

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Hydroponics has been around since the 1930’s when US Dept. of Agriculture scientists experimented, using water soluble fertilisers to grow plants. Then during the Second World War the US Army gave it a huge boost when they successfully used hydroponics to feed their troops in the South Pacific using the clear crystal water from the volcanic slopes together with beach sand. It did not start with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, a misconception, as then they had no water soluble chemicals with which it could be done. read more

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In an earlier issue of The Farmer's Weekly Julia Kupka exposed some of the shortcomings of the hanging bag system and the dangers of unscrupulous franchisors. These are two very real dangers for potential hydroponics farmers, but there are many others too that the inexperienced hydroponics farmer may not be aware of. read more

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Hydro from the Greek meaning ‘water’ and ‘ponos’ from the Greek meaning ‘work’ gives us the meaning to work in water. Hydroponics is the growing of plants without soil. The plant nutrition, instead of being supplied by the soil is supplied by water soluble nutrients dissolved in the water. This gives this method of growing many advantages over growing in soil. read more

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