1937 is attributed to William Frederick Gericke for his earliest modern reference to hydroponics. He grew tomato vines about 7.6 meters high in his backyard in a mineral nutrient solution. The earliest modern reference to hydroponics (last 100 years) comes from a man named William Frederick Gericke. While working at the University of California, Berkeley, he began to publicize the idea that plants could be grown in a solution of nutrients and water instead of soil.
In 1938 Brundin also patented the Chemical Agriculture System — the first hobby hydroponic system. Gericke left university in 1937 and published his pioneering book Complete Guide to Soilless Gardening in 1940. In the book, he presents his formula for macro and micronutrient salts for growing hydroponic plants. In 1929, a professor at the University of California invented hydroponics.
dr. William Frederick Gericke (1882 – 1970), Plant Nutrition Consultant, University of California. Gericke revealed to the world that he had developed a new technology that he called hydroponics. He used two Greek words to make up the name, hydros for water and ponos for work. So the name means: water work.
For Gericke, the technology was to grow plants without soil, using a water culture that supplied all plants with food through their water supply. What he had invented was a new technology that put plants in a substrate, something to support the plant roots, and then added minerals to water the plant below the substrate. It is a form of hydroponics – insofar as it grows soilless – but instead of the plants sitting in the water, they are sprayed with a nutrient-rich mist. Statistics and reports already suggest that hydroponics will occupy a special place in the coming years.
Hydroponics allows the unused water to be returned to the reservoir, which is ready for use in the future. Cropping systems that do not use medium are known as liquid hydroponic systems. These include NFT (nutrient film technology, in which plants are inserted into slots in a tube through which the nutrient solution is pumped), floating hydroponics, etc.. Today it’s common for a commercial tomato plant in hydroponics to grow 40 feet long and produce 32 lbs of tomato. Just last year, Quality Food Centers (QFC) in Seattle teamed up with a vertical agriculture startup from Germany, InFarm, to set up in-store hydroponic cultivation alongside the product aisle at some of their locations.
Simply put, hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using only water, nutrients, and a growing medium. So don’t be surprised if in the years to come, every edible thing you see is hydroponic in origin and your high-rise neighbor is a successful farmer. There are reports that the US Army used hydroponics to grow fresh food for the troops stationed on the barren Pacific islands during World War II. Although the general theory behind hydroponics remains the same, modern technology has allowed us to grow plants faster, stronger and healthier.
A research division dedicated exclusively to hydroponics and organic agriculture was developed by NASA, in which they researched growing plants in extreme environments and hydroponic technology was a major player in the research. As hydroponic technology garnered attention and usage grew around the world, an inevitable commercialization took place. Plants can and are (for some time) grown almost without soil, and “hydroponics” is the name for this practice.