Hydroponics is a system of growing plants without soil. The plants are instead grown with their roots suspended in an oxygenated nutrient soup. This solution provides all of the elements that the plants need to thrive. One popular plant that has been successfully adapted to hydroponic growing conditions is the tomato.
Why Grow Tomatoes Hydroponically?
Tomatoes are a commercial crop that is grown year round in greenhouses. According to the University of Arizona, hydroponically grown tomatoes are scientifically proven to produce more fruits that taste better and are of higher quality. In commercial growing situations, only sellers who produce higher quality fruits make profit from their crops. Thus, hydroponically grown tomatoes translate directly into larger financial gains.
What are the Disadvantages?
Because every aspect of the environment in which hydroponically grown tomatoes is controlled, hydroponic systems cost more than open field systems of agriculture. Hydroponic farmers must factor in the cost of the greenhouse, hydroponic growing chambers, support structures, nutrient solutions and maintenance fees. In addition, hydroponics systems that are artificially heated and cooled add additional costs to the fees for growing tomatoes hydroponically.
Are Hydroponic Tomatoes Disease-Resistant?
All plants that are healthy are more disease resistant. In this sense, hydroponic tomatoes are very disease-resistant. Additionally, since hydroponic tomatoes are grown without soil, they are insulated from soil borne diseases. Over time, pathogens build up in soil that is recycled in an open field or hothouse used to grow tomatoes. These pathogens attack tomatoes and weaken them. Grafting techniques have been adapted to combine the vines of desirable tomato fruits with the rootstock of tomato vines that are tolerant of soil-borne disease. But growing tomatoes hydroponically eliminates the need for preventative measures by eliminating the soil.
Why are Hydroponic Tomatoes More Vigorous?
Plants grown in soil must search for nutrients within the soil. Poor soil with few nutrients cannot support the plant. This is reflected in stunted growth and poor production of fruit. However, plants that are grown hydroponically receive all nutrients that they need. Because of this, they thrive in a hydroponic system. Other contributing factors that help hydroponic tomatoes grow well include keeping the temperatures that tomatoes are grown in within the optimal ranges and ensuring that tomatoes get the correct amount of light.