Hydroponic is derived from the Greek word ‘hudor’ meaning ‘water’ and ‘ponos’ meaning ‘work.’ As the name suggests, Hydroponic is a type of agricultural method that does not use soil and is grown with the roots submerged in nutrient-fortified water. Hydroponically grown lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries and herbs make up an ever-increasing share of produce on display at many grocery stores and farmers markets.
How is it grown?
While you might be reminded of the science textbooks that laid out the whole farming procedure with mother earth at its core, here’s what was missing in it- the 16 essential nutrients plants require to grow. While carbon, hydrogen and oxygen can be derived from the exchange of air and water, the rest, along with growth hormones, can be dissolved in water that circulates the plant roots. It is indeed a brilliant adoption of science and engineering to mimic the vital elements of a plant’s natural environment.
Hydroponics increases the scope and scale of farming. It offers a higher yield of calories per growing area which can help produce more crops and feed more people. Plus, practice reveals that plants grown hydroponically can grow at least 20% faster than their soil-bound counterparts. The crops grown using Hydroponic are also less susceptible to weeds, insects and other pests, which means the plants can be produced without herbicides and pesticides. When grown at a large scale, hydroponics consumes less water — up to 90% less than traditional field crop watering methods — because most hydroponics use recirculation techniques to minimize waste. And while research involving direct nutritional comparisons is limited, both conventional and hydroponic farmers can influence the nutritional content of produce by adding nutrients to the soil or growing medium.
The labeling debate:
If hydroponically grown foods do not use pesticides, then you might be wondering if it falls under the organic tag. This is the point of contention between the National Organic Standards Board and the USDA.
The NOSB is of the view that organic growing is about improving and maintaining the health and biodiversity of soil and Hydroponic is contrary to the values of the organic movement. “How can one steward the soil if there is no soil?” says Mark Kastel, co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, a public interest group supporting sustainable and organic agriculture.
But the USDA sees it differently and has rules that hydroponically grown food can be certified organic. According to USDA, the criteria for organic labeling are:
- Free from chemical pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and sewage sludge.
While organic certification allows hydroponic growers to sell the produce at a higher price, organic associations believe this could squeeze out the traditional organic farmers. The USDA has made it clear that hydroponics will be certified organic but a rule that requires hydroponically grown vegetables to be labeled as such is awaited!
Biohabit offers an extensive variety of organically grown foods with the power to revitalize immunity and strength. Explore our entire range of organic flour and grain here.