What is HYDROPONICS?
Hydroponics is the art and science of growing without soil. The term was first coined by William F. Gericke around 1929 who took the word from the Greek. The word hydroponics comes from two Greek words, "Hydro" meaning water and "Ponics" meaning labor. Hydroponics is the process of creating a system that is able to recirculate water while supplying the plants roots with nutrients and oxygen in a completely soilless system using inert and sterile mineral like Perlite.
The Perlite culture system was uniquely devised and developed by a team of Scottish horticulturists. It is now the most widely used glasshouse crop production method in Scotland and it has the fastest growth of any hydroponic technique in the U.K., USA and entire Europe. It is currently the subject of worldwide use, particularly in arid zone regions such as GCC.
Extensive research has shown that superior crop yields result when perlite is used as a growing medium. In addition, since perlite exhibits unique water exchange ability, over-watering and under-watering problems associated with such materials as Rockwool are reduced or eliminated. This reduces plant stress, greenhouse labor and irrigation costs. Perlite makes moisture, oxygen and nutrients readily available to plants. Because of the unique shape of each particle, plus its permeability, moisture and nutrients can cling to the crevices until the plant needs them, while the granular quality provides quick drainage of excess moisture and allows space for oxygen. Typical crops grown hydroponically in horticultural perlite are lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum and strawberries. Tomato crops grown hydroponically in perlite have produced average yields 7% higher than tomatoes grown in rockwool. Currently throughout the world many table vegetables are being grown in hydroponic grow bags, melons are being grown in Florida and in Holland and the U.S., commercial cut flowers, strawberries, and orchids are being grown in hydroponic perlite containers
Studies have shown that hydroponic systems using perlite achieve outstanding yields
PERLITE PROVIDES THE OUTMOST SOLUTION FOR HYDROPONICS BECAUSE:
- Porous structure and Superior root aeration
- Excellent water retention and drainage
- Chemically inert, Sterile, Odorless with Neutral pH
- Superior capillary and permeability action-Uniform distribution of water
- Constant humidity
- Recyclable & Re-usable for more than one season
- Considerably less weight for easy handling.
- Inorganic & free of harmful substances: viruses and bacteria’s like coco peat, pine barks etc
As a Growing medium, perlite is superior to Rockwool and coco peat discs. Perlite's strong capillary attraction for water automatically draws up solution from the reservoir at the same rate that the plants remove water. Nutrient enriched water is trapped in the tiny irregularities on the surface of perlite particles where it is available for use by plant roots. Excess solution remains in the reservoir. The ease in which the optimum moisture level can be maintained around roots is the key to perlite's success and it is a significant advantage over Rockwool, which has less capillarity. Rockwool is close to being waterlogged at its maximum water-holding capacity, when it can hold as much as 85% water by volume and, hence, too little air for optimum root development and growth. Perlite's free-draining nature means that it retains less than half this amount of water. Roots in perlite are always well aerated and well watered. In contrast to perlite, the moisture content of Rockwool fluctuates from too wet (jut after watering) to too dry (just before watering).
Perlite is Chemically Inert – it is very important for hydroponics. This is perlite allows commercial growers to formulate precise nutrient recipe per plant type. The plants don't drive any nutrients from or to growing media. You want to deliver ALL of the plants' needs through the nutrient solution that you formulate for feeding the plants. If the plants are able to intake nutrients through sources other than the nutrient solution, which will throw off the plants' balanced diet. They'll be getting too much of one or more nutrients.
Superior Root Aeration- The porous structure and irregular shape of each perlite grain also prevents the media from becoming too tightly packed. That's important, because air must be able to infiltrate the growing medium.
Perlite’s inorganic nature free from pests, pathogens and weed seeds combine to make this an ideal growing medium for hydroponic culture.
One additional great advantage of perlite is that it can be used over and over.
There are a number of obvious advantages of perlite over other substrates like stability, buffer capacity, volumes per unit, performance in time, the maintenance or handling etc. All these advantages are slowly creating more and more market share for perlite---not only among new farmers going to hydroponics but also among all those that have lots of experience with rockwool or coco peat. Most of the growers are looking for more security, and this is provided by perlite.