Hydroponics – The Profitable way of Growing

Hydroponics – The Profitable way of Growing

Let’s make one thing clear: Hydroponic farming at home can become expensive if improvements are not made continually to achieve greater production efficiency.

For hydroponic farming to be profitable, close attention must be paid to the hydroponic equipment, crop management, and water-use efficiency. The good news is that most home hydroponic growers can improve these aspects of production without extensive capital outlay. Water availability is a concern for the undercover farming industry worldwide, and it would be advisable for farmers to implement suitable water management strategies as soon as possible.

Water recirculating systems are cost-effective and efficient, and any such hydroponic equipment or system can reduce water use in a home growing set up, as well as cut fertilizer bills by between 30% and 40%. Studies that showed that recirculation lowered water use to the extent that only 14l of water were required to grow 1kg of tomatoes, for example.

Regular plant maintenance, such as pruning and trellising, extends the productive life of a crop. Growers sometimes neglect this step, and this has a negative impact on the bottom line.

Greens such as lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, and kale, Herbs such as basil, parsley, oregano, cilantro and mint

For optimized home growing, a modest investment in the right equipment, such as knives for de-leafing, will optimize the number of hours that workers dedicate to plant maintenance. Equipment should also be stored in the same place to avoid delays; searching for tools wastes production time.

No matter how you look at it, hydroponic growing looks more and more like the way of the future – not only environmentally-friendly but more economical than traditional methods for better and more consistent results. And best of all, new and affordable hydroponic systems make hydroponic growing open to any and all willing to give it a go, and many of those who make the switch find the benefits and long-term profitability far outweigh the cost to get started.

Common problems encountered with Hydroponic Gardening

Common problems encountered with Hydroponic Gardening

If you’re doing hydroponic farming at home, here are some common problems you probably face with hydroponics in areas like Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and the rest of India. We will also cover some quick fix solutions for these problems! If you’re not a hydroponics urban gardener, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the FutureFarms Urban Store and pick up your very own hydroponic kit in India!

Water Management

You will find that the water level in your system goes down every couple of days. This is because of plant uptake as well as evaporation of water. When the water level in your system goes below a certain point, your plants will start to suffer from dehydration. The easiest way to overcome this is to top up the water in your reservoir every 2-3 days!

It’s not enough to ensure your plants get sufficient water, you also need to give your plants nutrients in the water. Additionally, you need to maintain your keep the water slightly acidic to maximise plant intake of nutrients. To keep your plants well hydrated and well fed, check the EC and pH of your water every 2-3 days and add nutrients accordingly.

Pest Management

While hydroponics has bypassed about 90% of the pest issues faced by soil grown crops, there’s still the 10% of fungal infections and air borne pests that may plague your crops. The most common fungal diseases you may face are root rot and sclerotinia while some familiar air borne pests are mealybugs, aphids, leaf miners and white flies.

There are three layers of protection you can provide your plant against these assailants. A physical barrier such as an insect net will keep airborne pests at bay but will burn a hole in your pocket. Instead, keep your system protected from rainfall and spray your foliage with organic plant extracts like chili, garlic or neem oil to extend protection from fungus and pests. You could also spray microbes such as Trichoderma and Pseudomonas to boost your plants immunity against diseases.

System Management

After a few weeks of using your hydroponic system, you may find algae growing inside your NFT channels or in your reservoir. Water abundant areas exposed to sunlight will foster algae growth. You may also find that there are salt deposits at the bottom of your gully or reservoir tank.

Flush your system with Flora Kleen to dissolve the extra salt deposits, kill algae and fungal diseases. The great thing about Flora Kleen is that it can be used while your plants are growing in your system! Also, ensure you clean your system with a brush after every cycle to for optimum results!

Plant Management

After transplanting your seedlings into your hydroponic system if they appear to look droopy and colorless and proceed to die over the next couple of days, this is because of transplant shock. To avoid this, ensure that the roots of your seedling are not exposed to air for long durations while transplanting. Once you remove the seedlings from the seeding mix, keep the roots in water till they are moved to the hydroponic system.

In certain climates, if your hydroponic system doesn’t have access to electricity you may find that your plants are dead by the end of the day. It is important to keep your system running all the time so as to keep the roots oxygenated. If your area is prone to frequent power cuts, use alternative sources of electricity to power your system! Solar power, diesel generators or inverters are just some options.

With these basics in mind anyone can start hydroponic farming at home! We at FutureFarms provide you with holistic hydroponic solutions to help with hydroponic farming at home! Get in touch to pick up your very own hydroponic kit in India over here.

How to build Hydroponics system?

How to build Hydroponics system?

Building a hydroponics system can be as easy as placing a strainer over a bowl and sprinkling some fenugreek seeds on the top. Proof of concept apart when building a hydroponics system one must first decide on if they are looking to do this as commercial farming set up or to do hydroponic farming at home.

Someone with the plan of doing hydroponic farming in Bangalore would have to look at a commercial farm from the angle of where, how and what. The location, the technique of hydroponics and the what needs to go into this farm. For the purposes of this post, we will look into the what as it directly deals with the how to build aspect.

The first thing to do is to choose the crop, long rooted crops need larger vessels to hold this complex and fibrous root matter and shorter rooted plants can be manipulated to produce relatively lower plant material and maximize their usable growth. Hydroponic techniques consist of the following:

1.Nutrient Film Technique – Leafy greens and herbs

2.Deep water culture– Fruiting vegetables and vine crops

3.Ebb and flow tubs– Nursery growing and leafy greens.

4.Media beds– Microgreens and tender tubers.

Each of these methods is specialized or give the best growth with some crop varieties but does not work as a “one size fits all” method. This, in turn, brings out the beauty in hydroponics as it means that each growing method’s application can optimize resource use, material requirements, and cost.

To explain the principles of building a hydroponics system let us take a look at the NFT growing method.

An NFT system will require to grow channels or pipes with holes to place the plant holders, these pipes will have to be outfitted with inlet and outlet drainage to create a flow of water from one end of the growing channels to the other, the movement of water can be done with a pump. The grow pipes will have to have caps that dictate the level of water maintained in the pipe at the ends and plumbing to bring the water down into a central reservoir.

Having a central reservoir is a good idea as it reduces the need for parameter checks in multiple locations. The water parameters that are of utmost importance in hydroponics are pH and Electrical conductivity/ ppm/ TDS of the water.
The TDS dictates the number of dissolved nutrients and this varies with the age of plants. As with all living beings plants need more food as they grow and thus the TDS of a hydroponics system will increase over time.

pH is a factor that influences the individual uptake of growth necessary plant nutrients, pH levels for hydroponics are recommended to be between 5.5 and 6.5 as this is the optimal range in which all the 18 essential micro and macro elements plants require are taken up by the roots most readily.
Hydroponic systems also need to grow media the classical nature of these media is that they are inert and as such give no nutrition or boost to plant growth but rather touch upon other important aspects such as aeration, root support, and stem support. Commonly used inert media are washed coco peat, hydroton or Light expanded clay aggregate and rock wool. It is also important to note that some media are better for some types of systems and crops than other. For ex( media beds for microgreens usually have cocopeat whereas ebb and flow systems for nurseries of fruiting crops usually contain hydroton. Rockwool cubes are used commonly as seed starters.

Building a hydroponics system works best when reverse engineering from the needs of the plant, their life cycle and stages and to tie that into maximizing efficiency and output. Building a hydroponics system can be as simple or complex as you would like it to be.

7 Facts about Hydroponic System for Indoor Gardening

7 Facts about Hydroponic System for Indoor Gardening

Growing plants indoors with hydroponics allows gardeners to create a garden in their home even if they have a limited amount of space. In addition to being able to grow plants in a small amount of space, indoor hydroponic gardening has several benefits. One particularly practical benefit is that hydroponic gardening is much less messy than soil. Additionally, indoor gardens can be a sustainable source of high-quality produce year-round, provided the environmental conditions are kept optimal.

Indoor hydroponic gardens have several other secondary benefits as well. By growing plants indoors, gardeners can control many aspects of the growing environment. This includes the control of plant diseases and pests. Last, but certainly not least, a benefit that may not be often considered, is that plants are grown indoors aid in cleaning the air of different toxins and release oxygen back into the surrounding indoor environment.

  • Faster Growth! Plants grow faster with hydroponics because it’s a more efficient way to grow them. For example, most experts agree that plants will grow at least 20% faster with hydroponics vs soil. That’s a huge time saver!

  • Bigger Yields! Scientists have lots of theories as to why this is the case, but the fact of the matter is that experts also agree you can expect at least 20-25% more yields with hydro as compared to growing in soil. That truly adds up!

  • No soil! This can be a benefit because you may live in an area where there is no good soil to grow plants outside. Or perhaps you don’t have any outside area because you live in an urban area. With a hydro grow you can still grow plants, even if you don’t have soil!

  • Space Saving! Because your plants don’t need to spread their roots out into lots of soil to get the nutrients they need (because they’re surrounded by oxygenated nutrient-rich water solution)–you can pack more plants closer together. This saves a TON of space and one of the amazing features about indoor grow is how many plants can be put together and grown in a small space. Again, this is perfect for urban dwellers who want to grow a lot of plants with little space.

  • Water Saving! Because you are using reservoirs that are covered (to prevent evaporation) and no water seeps out of the bottom (because they’re sealed)–the plants take up the exact amount of water they need at any one time and the rest remains in the reservoir to be used later. Compare this to soil gardening where you have to water your plants daily and most of the water is wasted. It’s easy to see how the same amount of water used to water a plant in the soil for a day can water a plant in a simple hydroponic system for multiple days or even a week at a time! In short, you can save about 90% of your water by switching to hydro growing.

  • No Weeds! One of the most tedious, time-consuming and frustrating activities for many gardeners is cleaning their gardens and pulling out weeds. With hydroponics growing there are no weeds to pull!

  • Less Diseases & Pests! Because you’re not using soil, you also get rid of a lot of soil-borne diseases and pests that can normally wreak havoc on your plants and make gardening a pain.

The Journey of Hydroponic Systems

The Journey of Hydroponic Systems

Have you ever wanted to grow your own vegetables or herbs at home but were unable to do so for lack of space? If so, hydroponic farming at home could be the answer you’ve been looking for!

Eljay from the YouTube series “How To Hydro” has a great explanation for why we want to do indoor gardening. He says, “Indoor growing is all about creating perfect Sundays, every day, for all your plants”:

Hydroponics is easy to get started at home! In fact, there are actually multiple variations of different types of systems for hydroponic farming at home!

Here’s the important thing to remember:

Hydroponic farming at home is better because you’re feeding the plants a nutrient-rich water solution instead of planting them in the soil. The only difference between each system type is HOW they deliver the water, oxygen, and nutrients that you’re feeding the plants.

One of the other big reasons hydroponics has become so popular is because recent studies on commercial hydroponic farming have shown it to have many benefits. Plants grown hydroponically are of exceedingly high quality, occupy less space, and consume fewer resources than traditional growing methods. Additionally, hydroponic growing methods, in combination with vertical gardening, have aided in expanding the possibilities of urban gardening and indoor gardening.

Although the amount of hydroponically grown produce has not overtaken the amount of field-grown produce yet, it is quickly gaining a foothold. This is especially true as more and more consumers are becoming aware of where their food comes from and how it’s grown, as evident in the local growing movement.

Commercial hydroponics farms are most profitable in areas with drought conditions and/or infertile land. Do not set up shop in a rural area where tomato, cucumber and lettuce farms prosper. The most successful hydroponic commercial operations stick to just a few popular and highly profitable crops (notably tomatoes, exotic herbs and lettuce). Hydroponics today is a niche food industry, driven by consumer demand, commonly in upscale (urban) food markets.

The demand for hydroponic vegetables has risen dramatically in those markets. Do your homework by experimenting with different hobby-sized hydroponic systems until you thoroughly understand the process. You must have success with small gardens before you ever consider going commercial. Plan and implement methods to reap the highest possible yields in the smallest amount of space; either grow up in the air as high as possible, or low-growing crops densely spaced. Both must be continuously harvested and replanted.

If you don’t have a love of farming and a passion for hydroponics, do not set up a commercial system. As with any new business, you must have the entrepreneurial spirit, determination to overcome all obstacles and a clear vision (business plan) if you hope to succeed. Also, do note that Commercial hydroponic farming requires an enormous amount of work.