MadSci Network: Botany

Re: How to do a hydroponics project?

Date: Tue Oct 16 19:02:54 2001
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1003245940.Bt

For the hydroponics treatment, get a standard hydroponic nutrient solution 
(such as DNF) from a hydroponics supplier or make a hydroponic solution used by 
scientists, such as a Hoagland solution. For the aquaponics treatment, you 
would probably want to rely just on fish wastes to provide plant mineral 
nutrients. The soil treatment should be a good quality potting soil, not 
outdoor soil which may have diseases. You could irrigate the soil-grown plants 
with the same hydroponic solution or use a fertilizer designed for potting 
soils, such as Miracle Gro. Fertilizers such as Miracle Gro are not 
satisfactory as hydroponic solutions although you could determine that for 
yourself if you wanted to make that part of your experiment. 

If you are using electric lights, a bank of three, 4 foot, 2-tube fluorescent 
fixtures is recommended. They can be left on at least 16 hours per day to 
provide as much light as possible. For the same reason, the tops of the plants 
should be within a cm or two of the tubes. If you use Wisconsin Fast Plants, 
you want the lights on 24 hours per day. You may be able to let the lights on 
24 hours per day for other plants although some plants, such as tomato, are 
harmed if the lights are on more than about 18 hours per day. Cool white tubes 
are preferred over the more expensive "gro-light" tubes. Probably the easiest 
vegetable to grow is leaf lettuce because it is short so can be kept close to 
the fluorescent tubes for maximum light, it does not need staking, grows 
rapidly, and it does not need to flower or fruit to produce its edible part. 
Radish is another easy and fast vegetable.

For your type of experiment tap water is probably satisfactory unless it is 
very poor quality. Distilled or deionized water is used for hydroponic 
solutions when mineral nutrient deficiency experiments are run. You may need to 
dechlorinate the water for the sake of the fish.


Fluorescent light systems for plant growth

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Hershey, D.R. 1995. Plant Biology Science Projects. New York: Wiley. 

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