Hydrophonic gardening has beome so popular because of the quality and productivity of hydroponically grown plants. These plants grow faster and healthier than their soil-grown counterparts because there is a virtually limitless supply of nutrients and water at their disposal. They do not need to fight off diseases and pests which are natural in soil. Pesticides can be decreased or even eliminated. And because the nutrients and water are delivered in just the right proportion directly to the plant’s roots, they are better equipped to grow faster, healthier, and larger.
Hydroponics is a new, green technique for growing fruits and vegetables. The interesting part is that the plants are grown in nutrient solutions that either do or don’t contain a artificial medium, like sand, gravel, peatmoss,etc. The technique has been shown to be very productive, conservative or water and land use, and easy on the environment, which means that its impact is very low. You can also categorize Hydroponic systems into Open and Closed systems, each with their own specific differences.
atamlynhayden and mguieb seem to have covered most everything. But I would add that hydroponics have been popularized – in addition to the benefits mentioned in other answers – because of the relatively small amount of land needed to grow a substantial number of plants; and active marketing, which has created buzz around a technique and technology that is still too expensive (in start-up costs) to be practical for most people.
In addition, many hydroponics systems take place indoors without use of natural light, such that their energy consumption is quite high (in the USA about 50% of all electricity comes from pollutive coal plants). In fact, this is often toted as a plus, since a hydroponic farmer will not depend on the number of sunny days throughout the year.
Still, a more sustainable approach would be to turn off the lights and combine hydroponics with natural lighting, as is often done in hydroponic greenhouses.
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