Is your hydroponic gardening system really organic?

As the demand for healthier food increases, so does the interest in Do it yourself hydroponic gardening as a method for producing quality, nutritious fruits and vegetables. But organic? Can hydroponics be certified organic and if so, how? Whether you’re interested in buying hydroponic fruits and vegetables and are looking for a little information or you are a producer, wanting to understand organic hydroponic gardening and what certified organic entails, the following information will help you make informed decisions.

Organic vs Hydroponic defined

There’s often confusion when it comes to the term “organic”. Most people assume that because a product bears a label that states “organically grown”, that the product is certified organic.

This is not always the case. In fact, it’s often not the case.

So what is really organic? While different states have varied rules and regulations relating to what is and what isn’t organic, the best way to understand the concept is at the federal level.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic products don’t use synthetic fertilizers and “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity”. Currently, there are only 30,000 farms in the world that meet the USDA standard for certified organic.

In Pursuit of Certified Organic Hydroponics

If you are a farmer who intends on selling organic hydroponics, there are a few steps you should be familiar with. First, in order for hydroponic fruits and vegetables to be certified organic, the operation must become officially certified by USDA organic standards. This is not a difficult process, but to be legitimate, you must submit an application and meet with a representative from the USDA – a certifying agent- who will visit your operation to determine if your organic hydroponic gardening process meets national standards. However, if you intend to sell less than $5,000 worth of product annually, you do not need to be certified and can still label your produce as “organic”.

Organic Hydroponic Gardening: What’s Involved?

For hydroponic hydroponic fruits and vegetables to be certified organic, you must use organic fertilizer. Therefore, the only difference between hydroponics and organic hydroponics is what you choose to feed your plants. Remember, organic hydroponic gardening is dependent on the hydroponic nutrient solution you use to be organic. And while you can purchase hydroponic fertilizer, it may not organic and if it is, it may not work well.

If you’re thrifty, you can find organic hydroponic nutrients and make your own organic hydroponic nutrient solution. Just remember, your organic hydroponic system depends on you supplying the right organic hydroponic nutrients. Look at minerals for example. An organic hydroponic system is more successful with refined minerals because mined minerals do not dissolve well in solutions. The hydroponic nutrient solution must meet the standard for organic, but it must work as well. If you don’t choose the right materials, you’re produce will be grown hydroponically, but will not be organic.

Keep in mind, both hydroponic and organic fruits and vegetables are delicious and nutritious. In many cases, neither is more superior to the other. Nevertheless, for hydroponic farmers, producing organic hydroponic fruits and vegetables and maintaining certified organic hydroponic systems is a respectable goal to strive for.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Louis September 2, 2012, 9:27 pm

    Although I’m new to hydroponics, I believe it is the future. I’m not a purest by any means and I can’t abide
    insecticides and herbicides in any form. There is my dilemma. It’s very easy to talk about this on a full stomach. There are millions of malnourished people in the world who wouldn’t give a rats butt if their farmer used chemicals as long as they or their children were fed. But what if we could do both? What if we could revolutionize the farming industry and do it through the free market system? How about taking a small town, a poor town, possibly one of the most inhospitable environments in the US and set up a practical, doable system of agriculture, business, ecology, education and administration. If it can be done with a small town…

    • Ayisha September 5, 2012, 10:28 pm

      Yes Louis, I totally agree with you, I do hope and believe that we’ll be seeing hydroponics as well as aquaponics (essentially hydroponics systems that are supported by fish farms as their source of hydroponic nutrient solution) being set up in under developed nations so that people everywhere can survive and prosper on healthy certified organic produce without further polluting the environment and depleting precious water resources. With a little more research you’ll discover that growing hydroponic fruits and vegetables can be the answer to many of the world’s food problems as hydroponics systems and aquaponics systems alike can be set up virtually anywhere regardless of how inhospitable the environment is to growing food.

  • Jared June 2, 2013, 4:56 pm

    I am planning on purchasing some land in western MA and starting a shared use certified organic self sustaining agricultural community. My plan is to provide room, board, and agro space to individuals or couples with a plan and the ability to follow through with growing/ raising enough food for themselves and an to be able to contribute to the community as a whole. I am hoping we will be able to create a comuntiy where we can not only self sustain in a Healthy manner but also be able to export some of our goods to the surrounding community’s.

  • Ethan December 5, 2013, 3:06 am

    It says on here the only difference between standard hydroponics and organic hydroponics is: the fertilizer one feeds their plants. Is it possible for hydroponic plants to be genetically modified? If so, that would be another part of the criteria, along with the fertilizer that would make the plants organic or not, right?


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