Hydroponics basins provide much more fertile environment for plants, and as such, crops planted in them grow much more quickly than in soil. They are also one of the two ways to grow crops in mountain colonies, the other being fertilizer pumps, which was removed of the game at Alpha 9. The disadvantage of hydroponics is their need of power to operate, without which the crops planted in the basin die. The other disadvantage is the limited selection of crops that can be grown hydroponically.
All other growth conditions still need to be met, the basin provides only soil fertility. Therefore the plants require light and warmth too. Note that Sun Lamps are not strictly essential for indoor use of hydroponics basins. It is possible to grow crops in these under a standing lamp at a penalty to growth rate due to weaker lighting.
Currently, only potatoes, rice, strawberries, cotton, hops, smokeleaf, psychoid, and healroot can be grown in hydroponics basins. To build the basins, you first need to research them at a research bench.