Organic Hydroponics October 2016
Supermarkets boast organic grapes, carrots, lettuce, banana’s etc… There is a lot of talk and interest in organics, but what is organic? What isn’t? Are hydroponic systems organic?
A hydroponic system can be organically operated, yes, but what does the term ‘organic’ mean? Basically, an organic compound is simply one that is carbon based, yet there is no official scientific definition of an organic compound. It is broadly defined in the dictionary and can have a number of meanings.
True organic growers will not use pesticides or fertilizers that may have risky synthetic chemicals in them. Consumers and growers alike want as natural and as safe a growing process as possible, with maximum productivity and taste. That’s a tall order. It’s a fact that organic farmers have done little, if anything, to dispel the myth that “organic = chemical/pesticide-free”. They would only stand to lose business by making such a disclosure.
So let’s get a better understanding of pesticides and how they are and aren’t organic.
Organic Pesticides ?
When we hear the word pesticide, we think products that kill insects. Yes, that’s true, however, pesticides that are derived from animals or plants and not combined with other synthetic chemicals are considered organic pesticides. However, contrary to what most people believe, “organic” does not automatically mean “pesticide-free” or “chemical-free”. In fact, under the laws of most states, organic farmers are allowed to use a wide variety of chemical sprays and powders on their crops.
For example, chrysanthemum flowers contain an active component called Pyrethrum.
Purified pyrethrum, called pyrethrins are an organic compound! Why? Its molecules contain carbon. Pyrethrins on their own are not very effective in killing many insects. However, they do a good job of stunning them, making them vulnerable to being killed by other toxins. The pyrethroid compounds are not extracted from the flowers themselves but created through chemistry and then synthesized. When you synthesize, you combine two or more things to create something more complex. Just because a pyrethroid is an organic compound doesn’t mean it isn’t synthesized. In order for that organic compound to work better it’s mixed with something else. So the message to take away here is that manufacturers, farmers, even researchers can use the ‘claim’ of organic simply because the molecules contain carbon. Yet, that so-called organic product may not be 100% organic.
Hydroponic Insect Control
When looking for an organic pesticide product for your hydroponic system, a good product suggestion is to use Neem Oil. Neem oil is very effective on a huge range of indoor plant pests. It can be used as a preventative measure and stop insects from becoming a problem in the first place. Insecticidal soap in another product you can use in a hydroponic environment. You may need to apply them regularly depending on the infestation you have compared to a common insecticide. The benefit of using Neem and insect soaps is that they are totally nontoxic to beneficial insects like bees, parasitic wasps and ladybugs.
Frankly, toxins are in our food even if we never apply a synthetic substance. Apples contain cyanides, but so low in quantities they are not harmful. Salt is a chemical and yet most of us consume it every day. When it comes to organic hydroponics there is a type of common sense we all need to use when we consider what we are willing to allow in our food source. Don’t automatically exclude something because it is classified as a synthetic compound, just do the research and then make your choice.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget ‘an apple a day ’….
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