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Plants without soil

Plants without soil!

This year we are using an exciting piece of equipment to help us all better understand the science of how plants grow.  We have rented a “growing tower” that will allow us to grow our own crops hydroponically.  In an assembly, we learned that this means, to grow plants without soil.  Plants need minerals, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow and they use them to make their own food.  Normally, plants get their minerals from the soil but it is also possible for them to get it from other sources, meaning, surprisingly, that plants do not NEED soil to grow.  This way of growing plants also uses much less water than normal farming techniques so, in the future, may be useful in countries where water is scarce.  At the bottom of our tower is a big reservoir of water which is pumped around the roots of the plants.  The plants sit in mesh baskets with their roots dangling in the water.  There are also four lights, which provide the plants with the energy to make their food (through photosynthesis).  At the moment, in year 6, we are growing salad vegetables and chard and hope to crop them as soon as possible.  Next half-term another class will be in charge of our clever tower.  If you see a glow through our windows at strange times of day, we haven’t left the lights on; it is the light from our hydroponic tower.