NASA is currently experimenting with growing food hydroponically in space. During a mission to Mars or a long-term stay on the moon, where astronauts would be away from earth for a long time, they could greatly profit from  hydroponic food. Growing food in the cosmos may be the future, with  astronauts, urban gardeners, and home farmers all using hydroponic systems to grow food in small indoor spaces using a relatively controlled system.

Hydroponic gardening has big advantages

Hydroponic gardening is already popular today. Savings in labor overheads (no weeds, no soil), a higher consistency of crops with great tasting results, year-round cultivation and perfect adaptability to urban settings are just a few of the advantages that have made this technique famous.

Mineral nutrient solutions instead of soil

A subset of hydroculture, hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with their roots in the mineral solution only, or in an inert medium, such as perlite or gravel. Possible nutrient sources in hydroponics are nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium.

Hydroponic greenhouse for educational purposes

Sika Peru has established a hydroponic greenhouse for educational purposes. 30 employees from Production plus another 30 from Administration and Sales are actively involved in the project.

New possibilities for self-harvesting healthy food are identified, and the nutrition of Sika employees and their families can be improved with crops high in iron, such as spinach or watercress. Numerous other vegetables are also being cultivated, including lettuce, basil, chives, tomatoes and aguaymantos (a fruit-bearing plant indigenous to Peru).

Strengthening team qualities and understanding of natural resources

Planting, nurturing and harvesting plants and vegetables strengthens team qualities such as commitment, constancy, innovation, creativity and collaboration. The project has helped to develop a better understanding of water as a unique and valuable resource as well as improve waste handling.

Sika volunteers support efforts to create this hydroponic garden

Sika volunteers supported efforts to create a hydroponic garden on the grounds of the Juan Pablo Magno Children’s Home in Lurín, a district in Lima Province. The staff of Sika Peru continues to devote time to the social and environmental initiative. A classroom session has already been held in the greenhouse. The 36 m2 area occupied by the greenhouse used to be a garden, now it contains more than 150 different kinds of hydroponic crop.

Sika Peru used recycled goods for building up the greenhouse

Various recycled goods were used during the building process, including nutrients such as MDF (medium-density fiberboards) from packaging, raw material containers, and buckets. A solar panel was also installed to support the water pumps for the electric systems.

What are the main hydrophobic techniques?

Three main hydroponic techniques were taught: 1) vertical, 2) dripping and 3) floating roots. What distinguishes these systems from one another?

1) Vertical hydroponic systems such as living walls or green walls can be either free standing or attached to a building structure. It is a great way to grow vegetables, fruits and other plants either indoors or outdoors and can also incorporate automated hydroponics. It allows high-density yields and shorter growth cycles.

2) Generally, each plant has one emitter at its base and the water is either on a timer or manually turned on. Tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers and some smaller crops are watered using drip systems in the greenhouse, which is probably the most common way to grow large, long-term fruiting crops.

3) Plants are planted into trays that float on the water. The roots hang down into the water, which is heavily aerated to avoid drowning. The big advantage of deep water culture is that it uses space very efficiently because there are so few isles. It also uses no overhead watering, which reduces disease pressure, can be quite inexpensive to set up, and grows plants quickly. As plants older than 3 months tend to develop root problems, this is primarily employed for short-term crops.

Improving nutritional habits

The first project phase started in November 2015 and is scheduled to end in December 2016. The next step will be to engage with communities near Sika’s facilities in order to help them improve their nutritional habits and to share any new findings with them. In July 2016, some five Sika Peru employees were selected to develop a greenhouse either at home or for business purposes. By December 2016, at least one community in Lurín will develop a greenhouse model with Sika’s assistance.

About 20 families operate gardens now

The project`s objectives now are almost achieved: maintaining an educational hydroponic gardening within Sika, while about 20 families operating gardens and have been able to share the experience within the community of the Casa Hogar Juan Pablo Magno. There collateral impacts are relevant as Sika Peru has set up contacts with stakeholders who make similar projects and improve relationships within families of Sika`s employees with gardens at home.

Do-it-yourself gardening on small space

If you've ever been interested in growing your own food, but the lack of a garden plot or yard has kept you from pursuing it, you may want to consider starting an indoor or balcony hydroponics garden. Technology has paved the way for quite a few different plug-and-play hydroponics systems, ranging from aeroponics to aquaponics, all designed to efficiently grow food in a small space.