Complete history of Hydroponics

The famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon in around 600 B.C. are the oldest record of hydroponics.


The research on crop nutrition began around 1500 years ago. The oldest published work on cultivating plants without soil was the 16th Century book, Sylva Sylvarum by Sir Francis Bacon, published a year after his death.

Water culture became a conventional research method after that. The word ‘Hydroponics’ was coined by Dr. W.F. Gericke in 1936 to define edible and beautiful plants grown in a solvent of water and suspended nutrients.

History of Hydroponics 

It means running water; ‘hydro,’ translates to ‘water’, and ‘ponos’ means ‘labor’. Many civilizations have employed hydroponic growing techniques throughout history. The floating gardens of the Aztecs of Mexico, the hanging gardens of Babylon, and those of the Chinese are the oldest. All these are excellent examples of Hydroponic culture.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon were constructed around 600 BCE by King Nebuchadnezzar for his wife, Queen Amyitis, who was homesick for the hills of her homeland in Media, Persia.

The ruins lie in the long-gone ancient city of Babylon, which was near Baghdad’s modern town in Iraq. The gardens were a magnificent structure, using superior hydroponic technology. Babylonian engineers composed an exceptional system of shafts to carry buckets of water continuously. The water sold in the buckets filled the fountains and pools in the Garden. The energy to concede this was supplied by slaves turning massive screws. This well system was the original and only one of its kind in Babylon.

Hieroglyphic records from Egypt recording back several hundred years B.C. depict the growing of plants in water. Hydroponics is hardly a new practice of growing plants. However, much progress and recovery have been made over the years in this innovative area of farming and horticulture.

In 1699, John Woodward wrote his water culture experiments. He discovered that plants in less pure water sources grew better than plants in purified water. By 1842 a list of nine elements considered to be necessary to plant growth had been made out, and the findings of the German botanists, Julius von Sachs and Wilhelm Knop, in the years 1859-65, resulted in the development of the method of soilless cultivation.

The growth of natural plants without soil in metallic nutrient solutions was called solution culture. It instantly became a conventional research and schooling technique and is still widely used today. Solution culture is now deemed a type of hydroponics where there is no inactive medium.

Throughout the 100 years, experts and horticulturists tested with different methods of hydroponics. One reason behind the drive to improve hydroponics was the need for growing fresh produce in non-arable areas of the world. Today, it is a well-known fact that plant life in some parts of the world does not grow in the available soil.

During the Second World War, troops posted on non-arable islands in the Pacific were supplied with fresh produce grown in locally installed hydroponic systems.

Later in the century, hydroponics was infused into the space program in the USA. Hydroponics is NASA’s answer to provide an independent food source for future space stations and possible visitors to Mars. The administration has sponsored a research program called Controlled Ecological Life Support System (CELSS) to develop hydroponics technology further and carry it into the future.

When NASA examined the practicalities of locating a society on another planet or the Earth’s moon, hydroponics helped fulfill the answer to this plan. NASA has a list of 15 plants, grown using hydroponics that will protect your life. 

By the 1970s, it wasn’t just experts and examiners who were involved in hydroponics. Traditional farmers and eager hobbyists became drawn to the characteristics of hydroponic growing.

In 1978, hydroponics pioneer Dr. Howard Resh issued the first edition of his book; Hydroponics Food Production. This book pushed what has become known as the 3-part base nutrients formula that is still a significant component of today’s hydroponics gardening.

Resh later went on to write other books and is currently in charge of a highly advanced hydroponics research and generation facility in the Caribbean.

Now, commercial growers are utilizing hydroponics more than ever before. The ideals encircling these growing techniques touch on several subjects that most people care about today, such as attending to end world hunger and making the world cleaner.

Hydroponics allows them to build robust ‘vertical’ gardens, that would otherwise be unlikely using traditional soil-based methods.

Most of the plant and flower arrangements you see nowadays in large office apartments are arranged using hydroponic systems. It makes feeding the system so straightforward, assuring healthy-looking all-year-round displays.

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