The Importance and
Science of Hydroponics
Sherry Anne Pancho
What are hydroponic systems?
The name "hydroponics"
derives from the Greek words
"hydro," meaning "water,"
and "pono," meaning "to
work." The literal meaning is
roughly translated to "working
Hydroponics is the
practice of growing plants
with their roots suspended in
water containing mineral
nutrients, or simply, growing
plants without soil.
History of Hydroponics
600 BC Hydroponic principles used in the creation of the Hanging
Gardens of Babylon
900 & 1000 AD Floating Gardens of the Aztecs in Lake Tenochtitlan
Late 1200s Marco Polo records sightings of floating gardens in China
1620s Francis Bacon, British scientist, studies soil-less gardening.
Publication of his work sets of a wave of hydroponic
1699 John Woodward, British scientist, concludes plants grow
better in water with nutrients, opposed to distilled water.
1930s William Gericke, Berkeley scientist, demonstrates the
benefits of soil-less gardening. Credited for giving
hydroponics its name.
1938 Two other Berkeley scientists, Dennis Hoagland and Daniel
Arnon, publish "The Water Culture Method for Growing
Plants Without Soil," most important text regarding
hydroponics. Developed three nutrient solutions that are still
Main Parts of Hydroponic Systems
Hydroponic systems are made of 7 main
parts; the growing chamber, reservoir, delivery
system, submersible pump, lighting, simple
timer, and air pump.
Holds the root system. It can be
made from many different
materials and can be designed
in various ways.
Holds the nutrient solution
More Parts to a Hydroponic System
Waters the plants Delivery System
Helps plants to
Gets water/nutrients from the photosynthesize.
pump in the reservoir to the plants, Lighting systems can
and back to the reservoir again. be used, or regular
Simple Timer Along with the air stone,
Used to turn the pump (and helps to oxygenate the
light systems) on and off. If nutrient solution. It is not
you are using light systems, needed, but is highly
two timers are needed. recommended because it
helps give the root system
the oxygen it needs since
water moves continuously.
The pump cuts down on
• A controlled and stable
growing environment for the
• Water and nutrients can be
reused, with low cost.
• Convenient, mobile, and
does not use farmland
• Easier to control pests and
• No tilling, minimal weeding,
no hand watering, and easier
• Reduces runoff and soil
erosion caused by regular
• Some diseases may be able to
spread quicker, with the water
• The system may require a
decent amount of care to be
maintained and kept up to par.
• May have a high starting or
maintaining cost, depending
on how it is made.
• Some plants may require
• The plants may be
susceptible, a malfunction of
the pumps, can force a chain
reaction and cause all of the
plants to die.
The Different Types
Ebb and Flow
~ Using a submerged pump with a
timer, water will temporarily
flood the plant's medium, then
be collected and the leftover
nutrient solution will be
~ Nutrient water travels
from its reservoir to the
growing tray to cover the
plants roots, then back
into the reservoir to be
~ The simplest of
them all, the
solution is released
through a wick
located under the
water to the plants.
~ Plants are hung, with
roots dangling, and are
sprayed with nutrients
every few minutes.
~ Fish, located in a barrel,
produce waste water that is
pumped up to fertilize and water
the plants. The water filters
through the plants and returns to
~ An air pump fuels an air
stone with air, and the
stone releases nutrients to
the pants that are floating
above on a styrofoam
So what is the point?
On our island, many of our public
schools have a school garden that their
students work in. This gives the
students an opportunity to experience
the outdoors and sustainability.
Introducing these students to
hydroponics could open doors to a new
career that one of them may be
interested in. It would also give them
new opportunities and experiences for
them to use in the future.
It also provides a different option for
students that do not like the get "down
and dirty." Most students have classes
after they work and do not want to go
back dirty. Or they just may not be
"outdoorsy." They would still be able
work, but will not feel out of place.
Our plan of
The Goal: To educate the public, mainly local school
gardens, on the usefulness and efficiency that is hydro-
1) Create small, sample devices of several of the types of
2) Give presentations to other schools, or a public audience on
the way hydroponics works and its benefits.
3) Harvest the plants that we grow, then give and/or sell to the