It may prove to be the future of farming, but the roots of hydroponics reach back thousands of years.
In fact, many believe hydroponics made possible the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon built around 600 B.C. Later, in the 10th and 11th centuries, the Aztecs grew crops on floating gardens in shallow lakes.
Hydroponics works by delivering the nutrients plants need via water rather than soil. Opinions vary on taste and nutritional differences between hydroponic and soil-grown plants, but hydroponics yields some clear benefits for the farmer:
- Greater yield
- Faster growth
- Less labor
- Not dependent on soil quality
- Year-round productivity
- Controlled environment virtually eliminates pests, weeds and disease
- Huge savings in water and fertilizer
New Day isn’t the only greenhouse-based business in the state. Other Illinois hydroponic farms include Liberty Farms in Waterloo, which specializes in tomatoes and culinary herbs; Living Water in Strawn, which grows specialty greens, micro greens and living trays, such as pea tendrils; and Mighty Vine in Rochelle, which focuses on tomatoes.