How do you grow a plant without soil?
Lots of plants grow without ever seeing soil now. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, herbs, watercress, chicory, lettuce... the list is long! The plants are rooted in a natural fibre. They're then each given a dripper which gives the plant a nutrient-enriched water (just as you would with a soil-based growing medium).
For crops such as tomatoes, it's been this way in supermarket supply for around twenty years now. People often worry that without soil there's a flavour compromise. We argue on the contrary. It's not the soil that provides the flavour in a tomato - it's the variety you grow and the feed which provide the key elements. Our tomatoes rival any others we've come across yet!
The benefits to us of not using soil are wide-reaching. As a natural product, soil brings with it its own pests that we'd have to manage, and it's remarkably good at providing a nurturing environment for the bacteria we'd rather keep out of our greenhouses.
Hydroponic growing provides greater consistent produce and higher quality. It's more easily controlled than soil-based growing so we find it a much more commercially-stable way of growing our crops too.
No contest really!