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Hydroponics vs. health


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Old 02-14-2011, 11:01 AM
sylvestris sylvestris is offline
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Default Hydroponics vs. health

Hi!

I've recently got myself into a debate on a swedish gardening forum (I'm from sweden) about wether or not hydroponics are good or bad for your health.

I've read that hydro veggies actually contain more vitamins that soil grown veggies if grown correctly. However some soil-fanatics claim that hydro veggies lack certain nutrients and vitamins that the human body needs.

So I'm turning to you guys, help me with arguments to win the forum battle against the soil fanatics!

.... on a more serious aspect. Please tell me what you know about the health effects of hydro grown veggies. It would be nice to know since I'm eating the veggies I produce and It's nice to know what I'm eating and serving my family

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Old 02-14-2011, 09:28 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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sylvestris
Well that's a debate that will probably last the ages, and there are fanatics on both sides. Much like regular nutrients vs organic nutrients in hydroponic systems, again fanatics on both sides. And both sides can get good results. Bottom line a healthy plant wont be lacking any vitamins and/or minerals (soil or hydro).

But realistically it all comes down to the growing conditions. Plants don't know if their in soil or a hydroponic system, they don't know if they are outside or inside, or even what continent their on for that matter. They just respond to the growing conditions they are given to grow in. These growing conditions include not just the amount of light, but also the type of light.

This may be the best argument that soil grown plant growers have, because natural sun is better than any artificial lighting out their. And plant photosynthesis is affected by light (as well as other conditions like humidity and temperature) and is a big factor in healthy plant growth. But if you grow outside in natural light like I do, you can through "natural vs artificial lighting" arguments out the window. Of coarse that's assuming all other aspects of the growing conditions are exactly the same, and that's virtually imposable to do. Well unless you have devised a system that mimics the exact outside conditions minute for minute in an inside grow that's using only artificial lights to compare. Growing outside has the drawback of being exposed to the elements, unless you grow inside a clear greenhouse that allows the natural light in but still allows you to control the environment (I don't yet).

But again it's about the growing conditions like, light, available nutrients, as well as the balance of those nutrients, pH, temperature (both at the roots and leaves), humidity, CO2 availability in the air, oxygen availability to both the roots as well as leaves etc.. If you change one aspect, every aspect of the plants growth and nutrient uptake (that builds plant tissue) is affected. Plant growth and the building blocks for plant tissue on a molecular level is extremely complex. All of witch will affect the the vitamins and minerals that are in the plant tissue. Again the plant doesn't know if it's in a hydro system or in soil, it's just responding to the growing conditions that it's given to grow in.

Another aspect to plant health is the roots. The plants are only as good as the roots, if the roots themselves are not healthy, the plant wont be healthy (and affect the vitamin and minerals in the plant tissue). There are any number of soil born pathogens, fungi, pests etc. that can compromise the roots. In a hydro system they are much easier to keep out of the system in the first place, simply by not introducing soil plants into a hydro system. But that's not the only way they can get into a hydro system, and if they do get into a hydro system they will spread much faster than in soil. They all can make their way into a hydro system through the water supply, air, animals and insects, as well as dirty tools. But again that's all about the actual growing conditions and not soil vs hydro.

In order to compare you would need to be able to mimic the exact conditions to actually compare results. Both for the roots and foliage, and to mimic soil conditions exactly in a hydro system would be imposable. Not just analyzing the soil so you could duplicate it in a hydroponic nutrient solution in the first place, but soil nutrient levels change as the beneficial micro organisms, acids, and fungi break down the organic mater. The nutrient concentrations in soil change and can be different throughout every square inch of soil (as well as pH levels) on a day to day basis. I won't even get into the differences between field grown crops and hydro with respect to water quality, but suffice it to say what farmer filters his water supply for field grown crops.

Bottom line, it's about the exact growing conditions, not weather it's in soil or hydro. There's no doubt that you can grow good healthy plants in soil. But as for the question of soil grown plants having more vitamin and minerals. Well, you can grow unhealthy plants in soil as well as hydro, it's about the growing conditions given to the plant, and not weather it's in soil or hydro. If you want to compare a unhealthy hydroponically grown plant to a healthy soil grown plant, yes the soil grown plant will have better plant tissue. You can also compare the other way around and the hydro plant will have better plant tissue.

Bottom line a healthy plant (soil or hydro) will have all the vitamin and minerals it should have (soil or hydro). As for weather hydroponically grown plants have more vitamins and minerals than soil, again it comes down to the growing conditions of the plants being compared. It's just a lot easier to control all the different growing conditions with hydroponics, particularly with respect to the nutrients (and balance of the nutrients) the plants receive. Weather they are given what they need to grow healthy is up to the grower (soil or hydro). Better conditions results in healthier plants, healthier plants results in lots of vitamins and minerals. I don't think you will find any scientist that will tell you "healthier" plants lack anything (at least with a straight face).

Clams of soil grown plants having more vitamin and minerals than hydroponically grown plants are typically spread by soil farmers that want to justify growing in soil, rather than taking on the expense of building a greenhouse and hydroponic setups. But the clams aren't substantiated by any real "CREDITABLE" study's. These clams are also often spread by people reiterating what they read somewhere on the internet without checking out the source of the information, and/or how the study was conducted in the first place. Those are the details that make the difference in understanding what, how, and why there is any difference in plant tissue.

P.S. I haven't even mentioned that different variety's, as well as hybrids of the same type of plant will have a impact on both the environmental conditions the plant needs to be healthy, but also how the plant tissue responds to these conditions. This would also need to be extensively compared in any creditable study.
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:32 PM
Freshwater Freshwater is offline
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Hopefully someone here can give you some reference-able information on this subject. I have looked into this myself and can tell you what my understanding is. (<----Disclaimer)

Quote:
Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
I've recently got myself into a debate about wether or not hydroponics are good or bad for your health.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
.... on a more serious aspect. Please tell me what you know about the health effects of hydro grown veggies. It would be nice to know since I'm eating the veggies I produce and It's nice to know what I'm eating and serving my family
My original goal was to grow 99% organic in everything I grow primarily for health reasons. That has changed since learning more and more about hydroponics and nutrients. As I understand it, plants uptake specific nutrients to grow and produce fruit. The plant is not as concerned with where these nutrients come from, but that they are getting them.

Weather the nutrient is derived from salt based inorganic compounds or from organic based compounds, the plants main concern is that it's nutrient needs are being met.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sylvestris View Post
I've read that hydro veggies actually contain more vitamins that soil grown veggies if grown correctly. However some soil-fanatics claim that hydro veggies lack certain nutrients and vitamins that the human body needs.
I am going to approach this from a plant growth and production standpoint, as I do not have a lab in my garage...but if anyone wants to go half with me let me know...lol

You made a very good comment above... "If Grown Correctly"... That is the key to hydro or soil. I love the argument if hydro or soil is better...i hear it often, and I love the answer because I believe it to be true.

Plants are pre-programed to grow a certain way under certain conditions. Neither hydroponic nor soil can make a plant grow any different than what it is genetically pre-programed to do. Let's say you have two identical tomato plants side by side, one hydro, one soil. Which will grow better?

Anyone can throw a seed in the ground, water it and have a pretty good chance of getting a plant that will produce tomatoes. Not everybody can throw a seed into a hydro system and get the same results... there is no buffer...no soil. sometimes no moisture, you have to make the parameters correct.

Think of the soil as dehydrated nutrient...add water and you are now supplying the plant with a nutrient mix, available to the roots. Done...right? Well...not exactly. You know all the little tweaks you go through to make sure your nutrient for you hydro system is balanced correctly right? make sure your PH is set, your TDS is set, correct aeration of nutrient, oh, and making sure you are using a nutrient mix that has all the good stuff for the type of plants you are growing.

Soil is the same... You need to make sure your soil PH is spot on (most people don't), you need to make sure your soil has the right stuff in it, if not simply amend the soil with the correct stuff (normally after you notice a deficiency in the plant). Check your levels of nutrients in your soil...just like TDS in hydro...it's easy to burn plants in either system if you over amend or have your TDS too high. Soil drainage helps to aerate your plant roots as well.

So you have two plants...optimal setups, one organic soil, one hydro...it is my understanding that the nutritional makeup of the fruit will be the same. The plant is getting what it needs in both cases, and is achieving what it is genetically pre-programed to do.

Oh, and I think that the fruits and veggies I produce in my non-organic hydro system, are healthier and safer than Organic Store Bought produce. Remember they don't have to tell you if it's Genetically Modified Organic produce or not...

Hope I didn't get too off subject there...


If I ever have the space I will try my hand at raising Talpia for a full on organic experience! Gotta leave the grid someday...;-)
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Old 02-15-2011, 03:19 AM
sylvestris sylvestris is offline
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Talking

Thanks for the informative replies guys!

This is a great forum!

Just waiting for spring in Sweden now, so i can try some outdoor hydroponics!
-25 celcius doesn't favor hydro OR soil grown veggies!
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Old 02-24-2011, 10:03 PM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Just ran across this today while I was going through some things I had bookmark, so I just thought I would add it into the mix.

Hydroponics (By, Oklahoma State University) Take note of the section titled "Soil versus Hydroponics" at the bottom left of page 3.

(I quote)
"There is no physiological difference between plants grown hydroponically and those grown in soil. In soil, both the organic and inorganic components must be decomposed into inorganic elements before they are available to the plant. These elements adhere to the soil particles and are exchanged into the soil solution where they are absorbed by plants. In hydroponics, the plant roots are moistened with a nutrient solution containing the elements. The subsequent processes of mineral uptake by the plant are the same" (End Quote)

I have yet to see any evidence to the contrary. The plants don't know they are in a hydroponic system, all they do is respond to the environment (growing conditions) they are given. If the plants are ever lacking anything (soil or hydro), just change the growing conditions in a way that will result in the desired effects. Though that's much easier to control in hydro.
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Old 02-25-2011, 04:05 AM
sylvestris sylvestris is offline
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thanks a lot GPS!

Great article
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:54 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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No problem sylvestris,
You know when it rains it pours. I was just looking for infromation regarding hydroponically grown peppers and this came up, so I figured I would read it.

Nutrition & Hydroponics
Now this article is from a magazine that's geared toward the commercial hydroponic industry, mainly in Australia. So keep in mind that the magazine is not an authority in any type of research (although they do consult hydroponic researchers), and I haven't had time to researched the people mentioned in the article to see what type of backgrounds they have. But it basically supports everything I have said, and states names and sources for references.

Note the statements
(quote) "The root system of a plant basically supplies only water and mineral nutrients to the plant. It's the upper part of the plant, through photosynthesis, that provides all the other types of compounds to the plant and its fruit regardless of where the plant's roots are growing.

However, Rick also believes that hydroponically grown produce has more of a chance of being good for consumers' health because there is no contact with the ground. This reduces the risk of getting disease organisms from soil and manure in the produce."
(end quote)

It's important to note this is would be the "growing conditions," not hydroponics per-say. Better growing conditions because soil is not used in hydroponics, but rather a sterile, inert growing medium.

Also Note the statement
(Quote) "To produce a good vegetable product requires good horticultural practice and hydroponics is no different. It's not technology, it's just a different, if more sophisticated, horticultural technique. Therefore, hydroponic growers must have a good knowledge of their crop if they are to grow successfully. Hydroponics plants are often less stressed than in other systems which means that produce quality is more likely to be maintained consistently, especially in adverse conditions. (end Quote)

Notice this is referring to being able to better control the growing environment with hydroponics. Not referring to the technology of hydroponics being the reason for a good vegetable product, and regardless of method (soil or hydro), a good working knowledge of the crop is needed to produce a good vegetable product.

Also Note
(Quote) "Take tomatoes, in particular. It is possible to improve their taste by using higher strength hydroponic solutions," he said. "This not only helps push more mineral nutrients into the plant and fruit, but also increases the strength of the solutions inside the plant, consequently raising the strength of other beneficial compounds such as sugars, organic acids and vitamins. A well-grown hydroponic tomato does have a taste and nutrition benefit compared to those grown by other methods. The down side of this is that poorly grown hydroponic tomatoes will be inferior, as happened with ignorant entrepreneurial growers in Australia in the early 1980s."

"In the case of tomatoes, the taste and nutritional benefits are directly related to the variety and the length of time the fruit is allowed to ripen on the vine, regardless of what growing method is used."
(End Quote)

It's important to note here that the reference to a well-grown hydroponic tomato having superior taste and nutritional benefits, is based again on the ability to provide better growing conditions to the plant using hydroponics, not the technology of hydroponics itself. As well hydroponically grown plants given poor growing conditions will result in inferior plants and produce (again a result of growing conditions). It is also important to note that the amount of time the fruit is allowed to ripen on the plant is a very important factor in both taste and nutritional benefits, no mater whether it's grown in soil or hydro (like I mentioned).

Also in the article there is reference to a study that was done in San Jose, California, by Plant Research Technologies Incorporated (should be able to look it up if you wanted to), that claimed hydroponics produce was higher in certain vitamins than field grown produce. I haven't read the study, but I would caution the difference is due to the ability to provide better, and more consistent growing conditions to the plant than what the field grown plants received. Again there are fanatics on both sides of the argument, but specifics on how the study was conducted, and how it was compared is the difference in the truth. It may very well be if they changed the fertilizers in the soil, or weather conditions, the results might be different. Simply because there is no difference in the processes of mineral uptake by the plant between growing hydroponically, or in soil. It's just imposable to control the nutrients in soil the way you can in hydroponics, and is a variable that will be different in every study.

P.S. Hopefully you have enough to get a leg up in the argument in the other forum, as well as discuss the issue intelligently (so you look good). I'm not a fanatic about the issue either way (I'm a realest). I will always be happy to look at any creditable infromation, but that also requires reading between the lines (what they may or may not leave out of the study), and determining its creditability. Just like I cautioned that this article was from a magazine and not a creditable source in itself (but the sources might be creditable). That's something most fanatics don't want to do (especially if it supports their theory).
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Old 02-25-2011, 06:57 PM
sylvestris sylvestris is offline
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Interesting reading again GPS, thanks.
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Old 02-27-2011, 03:57 AM
Freshwater Freshwater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freshwater View Post
Hopefully someone here can give you some reference-able information on this subject.
Um...That is exactly what I meant!

Excellent reading GPS, Thank You for the information!

(Am I allowed to "quote" myself?)
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:56 PM
HPE21 HPE21 is offline
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Thanks for all the informating GPS. I've wondered about that stuff, but figured there was little difference in nutritional value. The difference in taste seems logical without experimentation. Try using two different kinds of fertilizer on two different soil plants. Add two more plants and try different strengths. I bet they will all taste a little different. Some more tangy, some more sweet. I understand that ripening can also play a role. Its hard to test something like this without having an entire green house. Its good to see the reports from the universities or do have the resources to create such an experiment.

Great reads!
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:09 PM
ProZachJ ProZachJ is offline
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IMO....no matter what your growing method is...give your plants great conditions and the nutrients they need and they'll do the job of creating the healthy vitamins and minerals.

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