hydroponics-waterOne of the reasons Hydro-Organic Nitrification was developed, was because hydroponic systems traditionally use only certain manufactured fertilizers. Many of us are striving for a more sustainable, organic way of life. Tradition always hands the generation that follows, systems that are considered fully developed, as was horticulture before hydroponics came into the fold of true science. Hydro-Organics adds value to hydroponics. New information is coming in from all disciplines of sciences, doubling it’s libraries every 3 years. It is no wonder microbes and hydroponics have finally found a connection.

Since there are no microbial ecosystems present in such traditional systems to mineralize organic compounds into inorganic nutrients, a new method was needed. Addition of organic compounds to a hydroponic solution generally has phytotoxic effects and causes poor plant growth. Makoto Shinohara of NARO developed a novel organic hydroponics culture method using organic fertilizers. A microbial ecosystem was constructed in hydroponic solution by regulating the amounts of organic fertilizer and soil. This is called Hydro-Organic Nitrification.

Organic sources of nitrogen breakdown to create Ammonia. Nitrification is the process by which ammonia is converted to nitrites (NO2-) and then nitrates (NO3-).  This process naturally occurs in the environment, where it is carried out by specialized bacteria. Nitrogen is the fourth most abundant element in living things, being a major constituent of proteins and nucleic acids.

Nitrification, the aerobic conversion of ammonia into nitrates, is one of the most important functions in an Hydro-Organic system as it reduces the toxicity of the organic compounds in the water and allows the resulting nitrate compounds to be used by the plants for nourishment. Organic compounds can be converted into other nitrogenous compounds through healthy populations of:

  • Nitrosomonas: bacteria that convert ammonia into nitrites, and
  • Nitrobacter: bacteria that convert nitrites into nitrates.

The bacteria responsible for this process form a biofilm on all solid surfaces throughout the system that are in constant contact with the water. The submerged roots, substrates and tank walls combined, have a large surface area. Untold billions of microbes, principally bacteria, accumulate there. Care for these bacterial colonies is important so as to regulate the full assimilation of ammonia and nitrite for effective Hydro-Organic Nitrification. Once the system is set into play properly, The microfilm takes care of the microbial populations.