The technique of growing plants in a nutrient solution is known as hydroponics.
This method requires purified water and mineral nutrient salts. After a series of experiments, in which the roots of the plants were immersed in nutrient solutions and an element was added/removed or given in varied concentration, a mineral solution suitable for the plant growth was obtained.
By this method, essential elements were identified and their deficiency symptoms discovered. Hydroponics has been successfully employed as a technique for the commercial production of vegetables such as tomato, seedless cucumber and lettuce.
Yet, most of the crops are still grown on land because the nutrient solutions must be adequately aerated to obtain the optimum growth in hydroponis. Moreover, the minerals must be continuously added in the solution. No, such activity is required in the soil.