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Hydroponics Seen As Future Of California Agriculture

Courtesy of General Hydroponics

Lawrence Brooke of General Hydroponics

Courtesy of General Hydroponics

They say a hydroponic greenhouse uses about 10-times less water than a field crop.

"At a time with so much drought, we're going to have to look carefully at the crops we grow in California and the way we grow them," says Lawrence Brooke, the founder of Santa Rosa-based General Hydroponics.

"Most types of plants will grow just fine hydroponically," says Brooke, "and of course the amount of water we use to cultivate crops is much, much less with hydroponics than with conventional agriculture."

Brooke explains the technique is a way of growing plants, not in dirt but in recycled water.

"Hydroponics is simply replacement for the soil itself, nutrition comes through the water stream."

Brooke's company has built hydroponics systems for plant growing facilities in the Arctic, in deserts and in space.

Some critics say hydroponics relies heavily on chemical fertilizers.

And on Insight with Beth Ruyak, Brooke admitted that not all the hydroponic-grown produce you find at the store is very flavorful.

"That happens a lot with hydroponic produce simply because varieties that are chosen by commercial farmers are chosen for shelf life and yield and not for nutrition and flavor. So the produce is going to be as good as the genetics and as the talent of the farmer who grows it."

Brooke is designing a hydroponics system for China right now that he says would feed billions of people.


Steve Milne

Morning Edition Anchor & Reporter

Steve is the Morning Edition anchor for Capital Public Radio. He covers stories on a wide range of topics including: business, education, real estate, agriculture and music.  Read Full Bio 

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