Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert medium. Hydroponic bays are used to cultivate food production in a small amount of space, without the encumbered of soil beds. Colonies would try to use conventional farming techniques if they are trying to terraform a new planet. Although, they would still use hydroponics as their primary food source, as it takes a long time for conventional farming to yield results.
The large hydroponic bays used in Space Stations, Colony Ships and Agro-ships also serve as recreational areas for crew and passengers. Many ships, even warships, commonly include at least a rudimentary hydroponics system, as determined by the description of life support computer programs.
There are people who use hydroponic techniques as a form of art or decoration. Hobbyists are known to grow plants in strange shapes, in exotic colors, or even with unique aromas.
Pros and Cons of Hydroponics
Some of the reasons why hydroponics is being adapted around the world for food production are the following:
- No soil is needed for hydroponics.
- The water stays in the system and can be reused - thus, a lower water requirement.
- It is possible to control the nutrition levels in their entirety - thus, lower nutrition requirements.
- Being in a self-contained enviroment, cultivation is not subject to seasons.
- No nutrition pollution is released into the environment because of the controlled system.
- Environmental systems can manipulate stock for quicker cultivation.
- Stable and high yields.
- Pests and diseases are easier to get rid of than in soil because of the container's mobility.
- Ease of harvesting.
- No pesticide damage.
Countless centuries of space exploration and hydroponic cultivation had established a wide variety of techniques and plant stocks, and is widely seen as being more practical and superior to conventional methods of horticulture.
There are two chief merits of the soil-less cultivation of plants. First, hydroponics may potentially produce much higher crop yields. Also, hydroponics can be used in places where in-ground agriculture or gardening are not possible.
Without soil as a buffer, any failure to the hydroponic system leads to rapid plant death. Other disadvantages include pathogen attacks such as damp-off due to Verticillium wilt caused by the high moisture levels associated with hydroponics and over watering of soil based plants. Also, many hydroponic plants require different fertilizers and containment systems. Terraforming a planet requires conventional methods of horticulture, if they would have a chance to have a viable enviroment in the future.