ADVANCES OF HYDROPONICS IN LATIN AMERICA
Hydroponics has been used during years for research in the field of plant mineral nutrition and related topics. Today the soilless culture method is the most intensive horticulture production and is being applied with success in developed countries for commercial purposes. The growing and future of hydroponics in Latin America will much depend of the developing and adaptation of less sophisticated commercial systems. These have to be cost competitive with respect to the high sophisticated technology generated and used in developed countries, using natural and local substrates, developing native or endemic crops of the Region with economical potential for its high feed or medicinal value, among others. Meanwhile, as there is a considerable decreasing of agricultural soils in the world, soilless culture would be an important production alternative in urban and peri-urban areas, mainly in undeveloped countries. Inside the context of urban agriculture, hydroponics could be applied in the cities with more simple and low cost of technologies, mainly in extreme poverty areas, as a way to spread vegetables for self-consumption and to support the family or community income. Also to create micro-companies that will generate employments. There are no official statistics on the evolution of the state of the hydroponic cultures in Latin America. The main hydroponic systems used are the drip irrigation and NFT system. According with their profits, the main hydroponic crops are lettuce, tomato, pepper and strawberry. In Andean countries like Peru, Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador, aeroponics is being developing to obtain basic potato tuber seed, free of virus. In relation to the media used in soilless culture, there is no ideal or optimum substrate, because a great diversity in media could be used, as pure or as mix form. Among the inorganic substrates it is possible to use quarry, river and quartz sand, gravel, pumice and tezontle. Husk rice, coco fiber, peat moss and sawdust are used as organic media. The use of rock wool is not generalized in the Region, but in countries like Mexico and Chile it is mainly used in tomato crop with drip irrigation system. Brazil and Mexico are the more representative hydroponic countries in Latin America. The area of soilless culture is increasing in the Region and every day there is much interest to learn and to dominate this technique of plants production without using soil. A great number of international courses, seminaries, congresses and symposia organized in countries like Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica and Chile demonstrate this affirmation. Finally, it is necessary to obtain a hydroponic certification, as well as the organic products, to support the hydroponic growers in our countries.
Rodríguez-Delfín, A. (2012). ADVANCES OF HYDROPONICS IN LATIN AMERICA. Acta Hortic. 947, 23-32
soilless culture, NFT, floating system, aeroponics, column system