Hydroponics is a subset of hydroculture, the method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent. Terrestrial plants may be grown with only their roots exposed to the mineral solution, or the roots may be supported by an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel. The nutrients in hydroponics can be from fish waste, duck manure, or normal nutrients.
With hydroponics the plants are grown in an inert growing medium and a perfectly balanced, pH adjusted nutrient solution is delivered to the roots in a highly soluble form. This allows the plant to uptake its food with very little effort as opposed to soil where the roots must search out the nutrients and extract them. This is true even when using rich, organic soil and top of the line nutrients. The energy expended by the roots in this process is energy better spent on vegetative growth and fruit and flower production.
• 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.
• No nutrition pollution is released into the environment because of the controlled system.
• 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.
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.