MadSci Network: Environment

Re: Is hydroponics considered as Organic cultivation or Inorganic cultivation?

Date: Mon May 24 17:03:13 2004
Posted By: Eric Biddinger, Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Porter County
Area of science: Environment
ID: 1085203323.En

Hi Ben!

You have a good question here. For more background on hydroponics, I suggest you search the archives here at the Mad Scientist Network. There is a lot of material here.

The answer is a little bit complicated! Let me explain.

Inorganic production would refer to the use of artifical or manufactured chemicals and fertilizers to grow plants. So anytime we use pesticides or fertilizers which are manufactured or processed, we are using inorganic production.

Organic on the otherhand makes use of only natural products fertilizer sources like manure, blood meal, kelp, compost, and the such.

Now, what about hydroponics? Typically hydroponic producers uses chemical fertilizers to create their nutrient solutions. But there is a growing number of hydroponics folks going organic. Check out this link for a bit more information.

There is one thing standing in the way of organic hydroponics, however. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put together a document that tells everyone what growing practices are allowable if you want to call your produce "organic". These rules are called the National Organic Program.
According to these rules, hydroponic crops can not be called organic.

So summing it up, from a production standpoint, it depends on what your fertilizer source is. But from a legal standpoint (at least in the United States) hydroponics can not be organic.

Hope that helps!

Eric Biddinger

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