One of the earliest recordings of Hydroponic Growth was found during the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius in the first century. Using “transparent stone” as a protective cover, the Romans were able to construct a very early model of a greenhouse for the production of off-season cucumbers. Further evidence of this type of greenhouse construction was very rarely used, and the early Greenhouse concept wouldn’t rise again until the early 1700’s when the first “modern” greenhouse was built.
The very first glass house was originally built in the 1700s, and initially only used glass on one side as a sloping roof, however, later on in the century they started to use it on both sides. The primary purpose was not for the wide variety of vegetable products as it is today, but rather fruits like melons, strawberries, grapes and peaches; the initial developers of the modern concept had profit, first and foremost, in mind, and they catered to the wealthy, who at the time were the only ones who could afford off-season fruits produced within greenhouses.
As the concept became increasingly popular, the industry required several improvements to the idea. One of the major problems was that the Greenhouses’ souls were required to be replaced frequently, or alternatively, the soil had to be treated with large quantities of commercial fertilisers. In 1925, there was a developing interest in the possibilities of using a complete nutrient solution. Research workers in agricultural stations soon began to implement the new nutrient solution, either in the form of artificial soil that was composed of chemically inert aggregates moistened with nutrient solutions, or instead, an aerated nutrient solution.
After several decades of waning interest, there was a sudden surge of interest, reinvigorated thanks to the advent of plastics. Plastics allowed much advancement in Hydroponic Technology, including the glazing of the greenhouses, the lining in the growing beds, which replaced concrete constructed beds, but perhaps most importantly, the introduction of irrigation drips.
Again, varied promotional schemes involving hydroponics became common with huge investments created in hydroponic growing systems. The further escalation of oil costs, which first began in 1973, substantially increased the prices of heating and cooling. This in conjunction with fewer chemicals registered for pest management caused several bankruptcies and a decreasing interest in hydroponics.
Almost another twenty years have passed since the last real interest in hydroponics; however growers are once again trying to establish hydroponic systems. This is becoming more and more common in regions where there are environmental considerations in controlling any pollution of groundwater with nutrient wastes or soil sterilisers.
These days, growers are even experimenting with newer systems which are producing new and interesting results. Grow lights are a recent development, which produce a particular frequency for light, effectively mimicking the sun, allowing for a source of light that is both useable indoors and is appropriate for encouraging photosynthesis in plants. The drawback of this system is that it can be relatively expensive to maintain and is limited to indoor use. A less inexpensive version are LED grow lights, which is more popular to indoor growers as they consume less electricity, last longer and emit less heat.
Another new type of system that has been shown some interest are Aquaponic Systems, which are aquacultures that have been integrated with a hydroponic system, resulting in an environment that is mutually beneficial.
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