Different countries have different view whether hydroponic crops can be labeled organic. Both growing methods attempt to do the same thing: grow high-quality crops at minimum resources. Organic agriculture is based on growing in soil, with natural plant/animal manure as fertilizer, while Hydroponics relies on water as a growing media, with all the nutrients the plants need added to the water. But while organic agriculture can be ideal in areas where soil is rich, water is abundant and climate suits the crop, hydroponics offer a vast range of advantages that organic agriculture cannot always match.

According to Gene Giacomelli, director of the Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) at the University of Arizona, plants need a few basic elements to grow: water, carbon dioxide, light and nutrients. As long as plants are provided with these, they will thrive no matter which growing method is used. Soils serves only as a medium to transfer water and nutrients, and can essentially be replaced by different growing media, such as water in hydroponics.

The numerous advantages of growing using hydroponics that Giacomelli mentions are the ability to grow vegetables also in areas where natural resources (such as water or light) are scarce; where soil has poor quality due to bad drainage, little aeration or where it is depleted of minerals; or in extreme weather conditions. Hydroponics enables avoiding soil-borne diseases and insects, therefore offering better food-safety. And above all these, it has better efficiency using its resources compared to organic methods.

Ultimately, Giacomelli believes that without hydroponics it would be impossible to meet the food demands of the growing world population, and that both organic and hydroponics should be used based on the characteristics of a place.

David Kuack, March 29, 2016.

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