Aviva Directory » Business & Industry » Agriculture & Aquaculture » Agriculture » Hydroculture

Hydroculture is a system of growing plants without the use of soil, or with very limited use of soil.

Rather than soil, plants are grown in an absorbent aggregate and nutrients.

Hydroculture might be thought of as passive hydroponics since it does not require a mechanical pump to transport the water and nutrients. The most common form of hydroculture has five basic parts: clay pellets, fertilizer, a water level indicator, a culture pot insert, and an outer container.

Clay pellets take the place of the soil. This expanded clay aggregate is known as LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) or Hydroton. Plants will grow their roots to the required moisture level, so those with differing watering requirements can be grown together.

Through the use of the hydroculture system, plants have a regular feeding schedule that eliminates the guesswork that would be required for plants grown in soil. Depending on the hydroculture system used, a 2-3-2 liquid fertilizer can be added at every watering, or a slow-release nutrient, in the form of loose granules or gelled disks, can be placed at the bottom of the water reservoir every six months. Regular plant food is not recommended because it lacks the necessary trace minerals.

Hydroculture systems usually have a water-level indicator that looks like a thermometer. As water is added, the indicator rises and, as it is used up, the marker falls.

Culture pot inserts act as an oasis for plants in the system. These pots are made of plastic and have openings at the bottom. When the indicator is at the optimum mark, the openings are underwater. As levels decrease, air circulates in, and, when water is added again, the rising water level forces the trapped air up through the clay pellets, providing oxygen to the plant's roots.

The outer container of the system is a closed-water reservoir that could be of any size, color, or shape.

Most indoor plants will grow well in a hydroculture system, and hydroculture systems are available from specialty indoor gardening or hydroponics stores.

A form of hydroculture is hydroponics, which is the cultivation of plants in a nutrient solution rather than in either soil or clay. This type of hydroculture is also known as active hydroponics, although it is most often simply termed hydroponics.

Advantages of hydroponics over traditional gardening methods are that it reportedly results in more rapid growth and larger yields. As plant roots are directly in the water system, they do not need to spread out in order to gain the necessary nutrition, so space is saved. Additionally, there are no weeds, pests, or diseases.

Aeroponics is an alternative method of hydroculture in which plants are grown in a mist environment, rather than in a submerged water environment or clay aggregate. Through the aeroponics method, plants suspended in the air are regularly misted with a nutrient solution. This method is well suited for growing leafy greens.

Several commercial hydroculture systems are available, along with directions and plans for building custom systems, and may be used in a kitchen growing environment or on a large scale.



Recommended Resources

Search for Hydroculture on Google or Bing