Hydroponic Growing PERLITE

Research at
West of Scotland College
The Schundler Company
10 Central Street
Nahant, MA 01908
732-287-2244 www.schundler.com


Hydroponic Growing

Hydroponic Growing at Epcot (Disney World)
Hydroponic Growing at Epcot
(Disney World)

To the uninitiated, hydroponic growing simply means growing plants in water without soil. Unfortu-nately however, there are a relatively small number of aquatic plants that can be grown in water alone. Plants grown hydroponically require the same conditions for successful growth as plants grown by any other methods. Plant root systems require water, nutrients and air for growth. Optimum growth requires the careful control of these three compo-nents. That's what current hydroponic technology is all about.

The earliest recorded attempts at growing plants hydroponically was made by King Nebuchadnezzar when he built the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon which are considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Hydroponic growing remained a subject of curious investigation for many years but recent breakthroughs have moved hydro-ponic growing from the laboratory to the realm of commercial acceptance throughout the world.

Why Hydroponics?

Acceptance of hydroponics has been based on the many advantages the system offers over conven-tional growing techniques. The controlled atmos-phere of the greenhouse:

  1. Enables the production of a wide variety of fresh vegetables in areas of the world with short growing seasons or arid conditions where it is impossible to use conventional growing methods.

  2. Permits the supply of fresh vegetables "off season" in any part of the world.

  3. Permits optimum use of water in arid and drought effected regions.

  4. Facilitates the production of perfect, blemish-free crops uneffected by insects or damage from the elements.

A Commercial Hydroponic Greenhouse
A typical commercial hydroponic greenhouse using perlite growbags.

Hydroponics Research

Breakthrough research at the West of Scotland College has developed a hydroponic growing system that offers a number of significant benefits over other hydroponic growing systems. A long-standing problem with existing hydroponic growing systems was providing the optimum air/water ratio to plant root systems. Another concern was difficulty in maintaining the correct water/nutrient level for superior growth. Following many trials, horticultural perlite was found to provide the best results in so far as yield of fruit and ease of maintenance was con-cerned.

These studies have resulted in the development of a hydroponic growing system that takes advantage of perlite's outstanding capillary property that carefully and automatically meters nutrient rich water to a plants roots while still providing optimum air for superior plant development.

In the West of Scotland system, bags of horticultural perlite are laid horizontally on the greenhouse floor and holes are cut to accept seedlings. Seedlings are inserted and nutrient-rich water is introduced to each plant with a drip irrigation system. A reservoir of this nutrient-rich water is allowed to collect in the bottom of the bag. The natural capillary action of the horti-cultural perlite draws a controlled amount of water up into the root zone. With perlite, the root zone does not dry out nor does it become waterlogged as can happen with other media. Because of this unique feature, watering need only take place a few times a day as opposed to other media which may require as much as 20 waterings daily with constant attention.

Applications for Hydroponics

Perlite has been used successfully for the hydroponic growing of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, and strawberries as well as a number of different flowers. From the experience gained in test situations and in research greenhouses, it is apparent that horticultural perlite may be used in the hydroponic growing of virtually any crop.

For more information about these uses of perlite, please call or contact us at:

The Schundler Company
10 Central Street
Nahant, MA 01908
(ph)732-287-2244 (fax) 732-287-4185
email: info@schundler.com

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