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Hydroponics is not a new concept. In ancient times, the plants lining the walls of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were grown using hydroponics. Only over the last century, however, has it gained popularity as a method of commercial cultivation, mainly in the West. It is now in the early stages of becoming popular in India as well.
Hydroponics recognises that soil is not necessary to grow the best plants. Here plants only thrive on water, sunlight, air and nutrients.
Hydroponics, where ponics is derived from the Greek "ponos" which means labour, literally says that water works for you. And so it does! The plant's root is kept in an enclosed area where the water (with dissolved nutrients) bathes it regularly at 15 minute intervals for five minutes at a time (this may vary) -- allowing the root to get adequate water while getting sufficient air as well. In some crops the root is left floating in the air. In other cases where the plant is large and the root needs stability, the root is loosely anchored in a sterile medium such as rockwool, coconut fibre or similar medium.
Unlike conventional soil farming, there is no wastage of nutrients in the hydroponic system. Every gram of nutrient is dispensed in the correct proportion, depending on the age of the plant. It goes straight to the root and then back to the tank to be fortified for the next round of offering. Not one ounce of nutrient is wasted nor is one drop of water given up (barring some natural evaporation despite the covers on the roots).