Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil, using mineral nutrient solutions in a water solvent.
Shipboard Hydroponics: Small scale hydroponics on board ship can serve multiple purposes; beautification, air cleansing and fragrance, and food production. Greenery brightens a room and makes for a happier crew. Plants clean the air, produce O2 while removing CO2, and flowers can produce a pleasant fragrance. Fresh vegetables can help take the edge off the prepackaged meals common on ships. The most common versions are the Garden Wall, Rotary Hydroponics, Aeroponics, and Deep Water over Aquaculture Tank although any kind that can be thought of can be installed. Hydroponics are often attached to the waste recycling and life support systems. Supplementary minerals will be required and will be part of the monthly life support costs. Hydroponics maintenance is more time consuming than standard life support, but many claim mental heath benefits from doing so.
- Garden Wall: High density, wall hugging hydroponics which can be attached to walls in passages or common areas. May be liquid nutrient or Aeroponic.
- Rotary Hydroponics: Wikipedia:File:Expo_2015_-_Coltura_idroponica_al_padiglione_del_Belgio.jpg A Rotary hydroponic cultivation. A rotating toroid hydroponics tray that dips the roots into the nutrient solution for a portion of the rotation. An axial mounted light source with timer produces the light energy and day-night cycle needed. Being in a toroid, the plants have to fight gravity each cycle, thus they mature more quickly and are more robust.
- Aeroponics: Hydroponic system where the nutrient solution is turned into a mist, fog, or aerosol. This system works best in zero or very low gravity and thus is the most common on ships built at TL7-10, before Artificial gravity is mastered.
- Deep Water over Aquaculture Tank: Plants are attached to a raft over a deep tank in which the roots allowed reach towards the bottom. The tank is aerated and also used for raising fish or other sea life. This type of system takes the most room and will thus not likely be seen on small ships unless crew members require fresh meat (fish) in their diet.
Large scale installations intended to feed thousands to entire worlds.
"Hydroponics" Initially developed at TL–3, but quality and flavor of produce was lacking. At TL–4, nutrient requirements were determined and by late TL–4, mirco-nutrient requirements were determined. Providing just macro-nutrients will provide produce but flavor and quantity will be lacking. By TL–9 Bioregenerative Life Support has been developed. Bioregenerative Life Support is the goal of systems on airless worlds, where the biosystem recycles all wastes and provides all needed food and oxygen. Few systems can be maintained in such a state long term and must have supplemental supplies.
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