DOI: 10.1094/CFW-51-0083 |
Quality Assurance: Hydroponics
J. E. Stauffer. Stauffer Technology, Greenwich, CT. Cereal Foods World 51(2):83, 86.
Hydroponics is the culture of plants without soil. The only requirements for plant growth are water, light, aeration, and nutrients. Evidence exists that indicates the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which date back to 562 B.C., depended on hydroponic culture. The first practical modern use of hydroponics was in 1936, when W. F. Gericke (University of California) applied the results of academic research to a commercial venture. Today, hydroponics has grown to a sizable worldwide business. It fills a need for food production in nonarable regions and also has applications in diverse climatic zones, including northern lands with limited growing seasons. The most dramatic application for hydroponics, however, lies in the future. We are on the verge of space travel, which will require new means of sustaining astronauts during missions. On future interplanetary missions, astronauts will not be supplied from Earth with freeze-dried concoctions and pureed foods squeezed from tubes. They will have to depend on hydroponics for their food supply. These missions will require the best efforts of many specialists, including food scientists, working together. Only a systems approach to quality assurance can guarantee success. Hydroponics must be integrated with other technologies into a seamless operation.