Hydroponics labs grow plants, such as vegetables and herbs, without the use of soil. Instead, these labs use water enriched with nutrients to grow their plants. Amazingly, most plants can grow without soil if the nutrient needs are properly met and the plant is kept in a stable, healthy environment for growth.
All plants need light to grow, and plants in hydroponics labs are no different. Some labs are outdoors, such as the one at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida, so the light is provided from the sun. However, many hydroponics labs are indoors, so they need an artificial source of light. A combination of warm and cool fluorescent tubes works well for lighting indoor hydroponics labs.
While plants grown in soil get their nutrients from the earth, hydroponically grown plants don’t. The nutrients these plants need to grow come from specially formulated nutrient mixes for hydroponic gardens. Fish living in symbiosis with the plants can also make nutrients. In this case, the fish create waste, which the plant uses as nutrients to survive. The plants use the nutrients, thus cleaning the water for the fish. In these types of hydroponic labs, the water is filtered from the fish tank to the plants several times a day.
The first part of the word hydroponics means “water” in Greek, so water is a big part of the hydroponics process. The nutrient mixes the plants are grown in are often full of water. In hydroponics, the water is how the plants get their nutrients so they need plenty of it to survive and thrive.
Hydroponics labs can be set up in many ways. Commonly, the plant’s roots are either submerged in nutrient water with one plant to a pot, while in others the water flows over the roots and the plants are grown in a troughlike container. In other cases, the nutrient mixture is applied from overhead misters to plants in their individual pots. In all cases, the hydroponics system is set up with a number of tubes and pipes to deliver the water several times a day so the plants get enough nutrients.
Since so much water is being used to grow the plants, it creates a humid environment. Fans and dehumidifiers are needed in the hydroponics lab to keep the amount of humidify in the air down. If the humidity gets too high, algae can grow in the water and the plants in the lab can rot or wilt.