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Ebook on Hydroponics


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eBook created for a client on the topic of hydroponics and it's recent influx in the culture.

eBook created for a client on the topic of hydroponics and it's recent influx in the culture.

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  • 1. Chapter 1 The History of HydroponicsInitially, it can be very strange to see that hydroponics is actually an age old technique. In fact,when people are first introduced to hydroponic technology, they often assume that hydroponicsmust be a new concept. But I found out that indeed it was an ancient form of production. Thefacts were interesting and poured through. Now, hydroponics is high-tech; so we live in a high-tech world it stands to reason. The average farmer is approaching old age quickly, in fact theaverage age is 60 years old. At this time in their lives growing crops like they had when theywere 20 years old is not going to happen. In fact they have to develop a new way to farm, and forthe future impending food shortage hydroponics is the answer. It’s growing plants in less spaceand with less of a detrimental effect on our resources.Although hydroponics has become very high-tech, the application of growing plants in water isat least as old as the pyramids. In fact, I found out that it has been traced back to the 600 BC,with one of the seven wonders of the Ancient World. It was known the world around as theHanging Gardens of Babylon. Many believe that that the Hanging Gardens, were the firstsuccessful attempt by people at growing plants in water rather than in soil. It had to be so, theclimate of Ancient Babylon was dry and arid-the soil less than fertile. There was also a series ofhieroglyphic records along the nile that date to around 200BCE.These records vaguely describe plants being grown in water only.The Mexica or Aztecs of Central America were innovative, in fact they too dabbled inhydroponics before Europeans drifted into their world. These people have a very interestingbeginning, the site of their permanent home was modern day Mexico City, however in ancienttimes it was literally a water fortress, with boats leading the way to an elaborate standingstructure in the middle of a lake. They had been driven there by a hostile tribe who was in searchof arable land on which to grow food crops. The Aztecs settled near the marshy shores of LakeTenochtitlan. Since this fresh water lake was surrounded by marshes and rising hills, the Aztecs(Mexica) were faced with the problem of trying to find a place to grow food. Where else wouldthey find such a well fortified land? The Aztecs constructed large rafts out of reeds and thrushesthey found near the lake.They floated these rafts in the water and covered them with soil which they dredged up from thebottom of the shallow lake. They then planted their precious food crops on these floating islandsthat they called chinampas. Guess what they found that when the plants matured, their roots grewthrough the soil and dangled in the water! Some remnants of the Chinampas can still be foundtoday in Central Mexico. Thus, they were the earliest inhabitants in South/Central America tohave utilized the process of hydroponics in order to create a sustainable and lucrative cropstructure.Let’s move to Asia, again I was studying and researching everything I possibly could. I foundthat here the Chinese developed their own hanging gardens in the 11th century. It was MarcoPolo who arrived on the scene exploring new heights and developing ties that would ultimatelylead him to his Silk Route--a bridge between Europe and the Orient. However, he noticed an
  • 2. unusual site in China. He personally documented a floating garden which was another exampleof hydroponics in history.Let’s fast forward here to the 1600’s where a Belgian Jan van Helmont derived that plants obtainsubstances for growth from water. He figured it out by planting a 5 lb. willow shoot in a tubecontaining 200 lbs. of dried soil. After 5 years of regular watering with rainwater, he found thewillow shoot increased in weight by 160 lbs., but the soil lost less than 2 ounces.Everything just took off from there. In 1699, plants were grown in water containing variousamounts of soil by John Woodward, a fellow of the Royal Society of England. Mr. Woodwardfound that the greatest growth occurred in the water which contained the most soil. He concludedthat plant growth was a result of certain substances and minerals in the water, derived from thesoil. This mixture of water and soil was the first scientific hydroponic nutrient solution.Then I found out that European plant physiologists established many things in the decades thatfollowed Woodward’s research. It was truly amazing! They proved that water is absorbed byplant roots, that it passes through the plants stem system and that it escapes into the air throughpores in the leaves. They also showed that plant roots take up minerals from either soil or waterand that leaves draw carbon dioxide from the air. They also demonstrated that plant roots take upoxygen. But, the determination of precisely what it was that the plants were taking up wasdelayed until the modern theory of chemistry made great advances in the seventeenth andeighteenth centuries.Then, in 1792 English scientist Joseph Priestly discovered that plants placed in a chamber filledwith carbon dioxide (CO2)will gradually absorb the carbon dioxide and give off oxygen (O2).They were on the road to moving toward the right road; developing hydroponics. It happenedtwo years later when Jean Ingen-Housz demonstrated that plants in a chamber filled with carbondioxide could replace the gas with oxygen within several hours if the chamber was placed insunlight. He then was observed that the plant was responsible for this transformation, eluding tothe first concept of photosynthesis.Fast forward now to the early 1800’s and the 1920’s, when phenomenal discoveries anddevelopments were achieved in many laboratory studies of plant physiology and plant nutrition.It was then in 1925, that the greenhouse industry expressed interest in the newly acquiredknowledge in “Nutriculture,” as hydroponics was called at that time. Between 1925 - 1935,extensive development took place in converting the laboratory techniques of nutriculture tolarge-scale crop production. It was then that the industry began to become super-powered.The advent of it was phenomenal as you could imagine the possibilities that go hand in handwith it. In recent times, the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, Dr. William F. Gericke, at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, focused his research on growing practical crops for largescale commercial applications. During this time, he coined the term, “hydroponics,” which wasderived from two Greek words, hydro meaning water and ponos meaning labor, literally “water-working.” His work and research is considered the basis for all forms of hydroponic growingused to- day.
  • 3. As a result of Dr. Gericke’s experimentation with using hydroponic for commercial cropproduction, he was photographed with tomato plants that exceeded 25 ft. in height. At that time itwas pretty huge in the crop industry and it still is-imagine 25 ft high tomato plants. Thesephotographs appeared in newspapers throughout the country and created both excitement andskepticism in the general public. Promoters and equipment manufacturers proceeded to cash inon the media-hype by selling impractical and mostly unproductive equipment and materials topeople hoping to duplicate Dr. Gericke’s results.In reality, Dr. Gericke’s newly developed hydroponic growing system was far too scientific andcomplex for most potential commercial growers.During the late 1940’s, a more practicalhydroponic method was developed by Robert B. and Alice P. Withrow, working at PurdueUniversity. Their system alternately flooded and drained a container holding gravel and the plantroots. This provided the plants with the optimum amount of both nutrient solution and air whilethe gravel provided support for the plant.Then, in 1945, the US Air Force built one of the first large hydroponic farms on AscensionIsland in the South Atlantic, followed by additional hydroponic farms on the islands of Iwo Jimaand Okinawa in the Pacific, using crushed volcanic rock as the growing medium, and on WakeIsland, west of Hawaii, using gravel as the growing medium. These hydroponic farms helped fillthe need for a supply of fresh vegetables for troops stationed in these areas.During this time, a large hydroponic facility was established in Habbaniya, Iraq, Bahrain and thePersian Gulf, to support troops stationed near large oil reserves. It was then that the AmericanArmy and Royal Air Force built hydroponic units at various military bases to help feed troops.Asyou can imagine the advent of it was simply amazing-feeding troops by means of hydroponicproduction was certainly something futuristic. In 1952, the US Army’s special hydroponicsbranch grew over 8,000,000 lbs. of fresh produce to fulfill military demand. Also established atthis time was one of the world’s largest hydroponic farms in Chofu, Japan, consisting of 22hectares.Following the success of hydroponics in W.W.II, several large commercial hydroponic farmswere built in the US, most of which were in Florida. Due to poor construction and management,many of these farms were unsuccessful. Because no soil was needed and, with propermanagement, optimum results could be achieved, the excitement over hydroponics continuedand its use expanded throughout the world, specifically in Italy, Spain, France, England,Germany, Sweden, the USSR and Israel. Areas with little rainfall, poor or no soil and difficultaccess were ideal for hydroponic culture. So then between 1945 - 1960’s both individuals andgarden equipment manufacturers were designing hydroponic units for home use. Of course likeall things some were quite efficient while others failed. Mostly due to poor growing media,unsuitable construction materials, poor construction and improper environmental control.Okay so they tried again-even with many failures, the idea of creating the ultimate growingsystem intrigued many, and research and design continued in the field of hydroponic culture.Why shouldn’t it have? The possibilities are incredible with hydroponics! In the mid-1970’sanother media blitz about the miracles achieved with hydroponic technology hit the UnitedStates. In many instances, hydroponics was considered a get rich quick scheme and a largenumber of hopeful investors lost money on failed hydroponic farms. These failures were mostly
  • 4. because of the lack of information on growing techniques and nutrient formulas, exorbitantlypriced growing and greenhouse systems, the high cost of operation due to non-energy-savinggreenhouse designs and poor management.So, even though the potential of hydroponic culture is incredible, commercial hydroponics in theUS was held back. They wanted to make sure that the systems were easy to use, create andmaintain. They also wanted to make them available under those guises. With the advent of high-tech plastics and simpler system design, this came about in the late 1970’s.Energy saving polygreenhouse covers, the PVC (or similar) pipe used in the feed systems, the nutrient injectors,pumps and reservoir tanks are all made of types of plastic that weren’t available prior to the1970’s.The small and large hydroponic farms were established in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, it wasproven that with proper management, hydroponic culture could grow premium produce and be aprofitable venture.It made sense, and as hydroponics attracted more interest, complete plantnutrient formulas and hydroponic greenhouse systems were designed and marketed and environ-mental control systems were developed to help to growers provide the ideal environment inaddition to the ideal plant diet.In the UK there is a long interconnected timeline of history that evolved from Marco Polo’s silkroute and more. The UK has utilized the trade for some time and because of that it is one of thepremier sources for literature and learning.So then I decided to calculate some figures-why? Because I knew that you too would beinterested in this amazing journey of hydroponics. So I found out that worldwide there are over30,000 acres in commercial hydroponic production, mainly in fancy lettuce, tomatoes,cucumbers, peppers, cut flowers and herbs. Hydroponics is a 4-billion-dollar-a-year industry andgrowing rapidly. In Spain, Holland, Australia, Canada, and other countries hydroponic culturemakes up a sizable percentage of the agriculture market. In the United States the application ofcommercial hydroponics is just recently booming.It was with the construction of several 40 and60 acres hydroponic tomato facilities in recent years, total acreage in hydroponic production inthe US is between 800-1,000 acres.Most of the hydroponic facilities in the US are family or small business operations, with theexception of several large corporate farms.The demand for premium produce is so high in the USthat the number of current hydroponic farms cannot meet the demand. Every day, hundreds ofthousands of pounds of hydroponic tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are flown in from Canada,Europe and Mexico.So besides the addition to the commercial applications of hydroponics, there are many homegardeners that maintain hydroponic systems. Because more crops can be grown in a small space,it is environmentally friendly and grows premium produce, hydroponic culture lends itself wellto a small garden. You can actually take the hydroponic garden to a new level. A hydroponicgarden can be set up indoors, in a windowsill, a patio, balcony or roof top, making gardeningavailable to those who do not have a traditional yard or access to fertile soil.
  • 5. There were many schools that are using hydroponics in science courses.Many schools are nowusing hydroponics to teach plant science, plant structure, plant nutrition and chemistry. Thehands-on learning allows students to apply abstract concepts to real-world technology whileencouraging responsibility in caring for the plants. Not only is hydroponics popular in schoolsand in some small areas because it offers world wide hydroponics.World wide, hydroponics has become a well established, popular method of growing food crops.So in arid regions such as Mexico, the Middle East, India and north Africa hydroponic culture ishelping to feed growing populations. Nearly every country in the world uses hydroponic cultureon some scale. Hydroponic produce is strictly considered a premium or gourmet product. Inothers, hydroponic technology is utilized for producing staple crops and grain. Hydroponictechnology is even used by some zoos in the US for producing animal feed its just that easy, andawesome. Hydroponics is obviously money saving as you do not have to get the soil at a certainnutrient level in order to produce. It’s based in water, and it makes plants grow phenomenallylarger.I even found out that the US Navy is growing fresh vegetables on submarines in highlyspecialized recirculating hydroponic systems to help supply fresh vegetables for the crew! I alsoread somewhere that NASA is experimenting with recirculating hydroponic systems to be usedto feed people in space. Many experiments have been conducted in laboratories and on recentspace shuttle missions. So in another decade or so we are going to be eating on the moon fromhydroponic systems.With today’s technology, a small hydroponic grower with just 7,000 square ft. of greenhousespace (that’s 1/8th of an acre) can grow as much as 50,000 lbs. of hydroponic tomatoes annually.As a concept, hydroponics has been around since the pyramids. As a science, it is quite new andit’s also exciting. Hydroponics has only been used in commercial production for approximately50 years. In that time, it has been applied to both indoor and outdoor farms, growing premiumproduce, feeding third world countries and applications in the space program.What’s in the future?Well as we become more and more advanced refining the technology the field will become moreproductive. People around the world will no longer no hunger perhaps, and people will be able togrow their own food in space. Other areas where hydroponics could be used in the future includegrowing seedlings for reforestation, establishing orchards, growing ornamental crops, flowersand shrubs and integration with aquaculture where the plants purify the water the fish are livingin.Chapter 2Introduction To The
  • 6. Hydroponics IndustryOkay, so the future is bright with hydroponics and its a good thing too because if we have notcome as far as we are now then we may have found ourselves facing a food crisis without theability to produce anything. I found out also that with hydroponic technology and a controlledenvironment greenhouse, you have the ability to grow premium quality produce using aminimum of space, water and fertilizer. That’s right you can grow it in your windowsill, orlaundry room-it depends on your light source among other things. Hydroponics is an intensiveform of agriculture that can fulfill the demand for premium produce and provide the you with aprofitable business. Which works out great considering that it takes a limited amount of space,little startup costs in comparison to traditional growing methods and it is a “green” mode ofproduction.There are hydroponic growers throughout the United States and worldwide. Of over 30,000 acresin hydroponic production around the world, about 800 of those acres are in the US. Most of thehydroponic facilities in the US are family or small business operations that cover 1/8 - 1 acre,produce premium hydroponic produce and sell it locally. The smaller operations generally havethe advantage of offering vine ripened, locally grown produce with minimal transportation costand damage. It is in this niche, offering premium produce to a local marketplace, that ahydroponic grower with less than a 1/2 acre in production can earn an excellent profit. Smallergrowers can establish themselves near the marketplace, eliminating the problems and costs oflong-distance transportation. Most of the hydroponic farmers in the US deliver all the producethey grow within a 1 - 4 hour radius of their greenhouse.The US has several smaller growers-as well as there are several large hydroponic facilities thatcover as many as 60 or more acres and produce large quantities of hydroponic tomatoes, peppers,cucumbers and lettuce. Often this produce is shipped throughout the US to help fill the growingdemand for hydroponic produce. Currently there are jumbo jets, trains and trucks that bringhydroponic produce daily into the United States from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Mexicoand Canada.But it’s better to have your own local site because the items that come from abroad(U.S and Internationally) are going to have to travel far, it’s going to get hot, smashed andbroiled before it even arrives to the store and then they throw half of it away because of Bemisspots. The waste is incredible and the quality of the hydroponically grown product is disgusting.Both US and Internationally grown hydroponic produce that suffer the rough handling of long-distance transportation is usually of a lesser quality and sells for a lower price that that of asmaller hydroponic farmer who caters to specialty stores and farmers markets near to theiroperation. That’s where you come in, maybe you are mid-life or young and you are looking toproduce your own crops. Well, like I have said it’s all too common to go the expensive routewhich is traditionally grown crops, but hydroponics is a developing field and it allows you togrow much more than before. Let’s explore this shall we?Quality of foodThe premium quality of most hydroponic produce is due to several things. First it is thecontrolled environment and then a high grade nutrients and precise control of the nutrient feed.
  • 7. These ratios can accelerate vine ripening time without having herbicides and pesticides in yourback pocket.Advantages of Hydroponic ProduceThere are so many advantages that it’s hard to think of them all. But basically if youdecide to grow your plants with this method then you will not have to deal with any:*soil borne disease *hydroponics uses up to 1/10 of the water that is used to grow equivalent amounts offield produce •hydroponics uses less fertilizer than is often used to grow equivalent amounts of fieldProduce •extended growing season•intensive production in a small spaceEven if you live in a high rise apartment hydroponics is always an option and another thing youdo not have to be extremely mobile to farm in this manner as long as the items are in a place insuch a way that you can get to them.What’s the Most Popular Crops?Right now in the U.S the most popular crops are tomatoes. Then the runners up are fancy lettuceand leaf crops, third cucumbers and fourth herbs, peppers and flowers. Ironically, there is morehydroponic produce flown into the US from Holland, Canada and Mexico than is grown here. Ifeel that it is time to take up the slack and get it moving. As more and more growers areestablished in the US, this will change. You can grow hydroponic produce at a lower cost andoffer fresher, better quality for a fraction of the cost that traditional growing methods offer. Thereis nothing worse than sticking your neck out for a bank loan and getting nothing in return exceptfor a sore neck and an overcharged and heightened loan. They call them loan sharks for a reason-they will take it all and then demand more. This is not something that I personally would want toget myself involved in.Productivity of Commercial SystemsIn the past decade or so, productivity has really burgeoned-the field of hydroponics is ripe for thepicking. There was no pun intended there! Commercial tomato growers who once hoped toannually pick 20 pounds of tomatoes per plant are now picking as much as 35-40 poundsannually, amazing! So let’s analyze the specs here--in a 12,000 square foot greenhouse, a tomatogrower can grow 4,0000—5,000 pounds of tomatoes every week! See that’s where we get theidea that we can avoid a coming crisis. Lettuce growers are picking mature heads of lettuce inunder 5 weeks and, with 20,000 square feet of growing space, can produce nearly 3,000 headsper week. The cost of establishing a commercial hydroponic greenhouse operation is quitereasonable when considering the potential profit and the intensive volume of high-qualityproduce that can be grown on a small lot. Plus when you consider the cost of a traditionalmethod of growing there is a huge difference.The addition of new equipment such as electronic monitoring systems, nutrient dosing systems,row bed heating, CO2 generators and insect screening have greatly increased the overallpoundage many growers are harvesting. So these are options that you may want to take into
  • 8. account as you go through this venture. They increase the amount of production--threefold andthey offer a lot more to the potential buyer.Methods of Hydroponic ProductionHydroponics literally means “water working.” but, in practical use, it means growing plants in anutrient rich solution without soil. Soil is not necessary for plant growth, it’s only an early formof production that has been part of the global crop history since the time the first nomad planteda corn kernel. The science of hydroponics proves that soil isn’t required for plant growth but theelements, minerals and nutrients that soil contains are. Soil is simply the holder of the nutrients, aplace where the plant roots traditionally live and a base of support for the plant structure. Byeliminating the soil, you eliminate soil borne disease and weeds and gain precise control over theplant’s nutritional diet. In a hydroponic solution, you provide the exact nutrients your plants needin precisely the correct ratios so they can develop stress-free, mature faster and, at harvest, arethe highest quality possible.In commercial production, the two primary growing methods are drip (also known as substrate)and NFT (Nutrient Film Technique). The are a number of variations of these methods and alsoseveral others including the float system, ebb and flow system, aquaponics, aeroponics andpassive. The biggest difference between the drip and NFT systems is the use of a growingmedium. In a drip system, the plant roots are in a growing medium such as perlite or rockwooland the nutrient solution is dripped onto the medium to keep it moist. In an NFT system, theplant roots are in a channel where a thin film of nutrient solution passes, keeping them moist butnot water-logged. Recently I was reading about NASA researchers who were looking into onionproduction in fact it was quite fascinating. We can create a plethora of vegetables with thismethod of farming.DripThe drip system is often used in commercial hydroponic facilities that grow long term crops liketomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, onions and more. In this system, the nutrient solution isdelivered to the plants through drip emitters on a timed system. They then schedule theseemitters to run for approximately 10 minutes of every hour depending on the stage ofdevelopment of the plant and the amount of available light. The drip cycle flushes the growingmedium, providing the plants with fresh nutrients, water and oxygen. They don’t need the soilbecause of this method, because they get all that they need from that format.In a commercial drip system, the plant roots are most commonly grown in a medium of perlite orrockwool. The biggest variables in a drip system are in the growing medium and thecontainer that holds that medium. Perlite is often bagged in thin, plastic sleeves. Holes are cut inthe bag and plants, usually 3-4, are set in with the roots growing down into the perlite. Recently,a bucket system has been developed to contain perlite for drip systems. Each bucket holds looseperlite and one or two plants. In either of these methods, a slot or hole is cut in the container toallow excess nutrient solution to run out. A drain line below the bag or bucket collects theexcess.Another method of a drip system that is becoming popular for lettuce and herb production is theperlite tray, usually about 24 inches wide by 10—14 feet long. An aluminum tray, coated with anon-toxic material, is filled with perlite and set on a gentle slope of 1-inch to 10-feet. The
  • 9. nutrient solution is continuously dripped in at the higher end of the tray and allow to tricklethrough the perlite to the other end. Essentially, this system is a combination of drip and NFTtechniques.In most drip systems, injectors are used to add nutrient concentrates to water when the feed cyclestarts. In this case, there is no need for a large nutrient reservoir tank or the periodic dumping ofused nutrient. These are the most common in the world and they are used by small and lagregreenhouses.NFT (Nutrient Film Technique)In this technique NFT (also known Nutrient Film Technique); the plants are grown in channels(also called gullies) which the nutrient solution is pumped through. The plant roots are keptmoist by the thin film of nutrient solution as it passes by. Ideally, the bottom of the roots areexposed to the nutrient solution while the top are kept moist but not water-logged. It’s basicallylike a channel or stream that feeds the line with dissolved nutrients which then recirculates on aconsistent basis.Most NFT channels are fed continuously at a rate of approximately 1 liter per minute. Since theplant roots are not in a growing medium, it is crucial that they are kept moist at all times. In mostNFT systems, the nutrient solution is mixed in a primary reservoir, cycled through the channelsand back to the reservoir. With the development of on-demand dosing equipment, a nutrientreservoir can automatically be adjusted and, with proper aeration and pH adjustment, caneffortlessly be kept fresh for weeks at a time.NFT is ideal for lettuce, leafy crops, herbs, onions, tomatoes and more, all of which are shortterm crops. Larger NFT channels are used for long term crops such as tomatoes and cucumbersin many locations around the world. One great benefit of NFT, especially for leafy crops, is thatwith no growing medium and no soil, the crop is clean and no washing is necessary.Growers, chefs, grocers and consumers all appreciate this. They can simply grab it and go-unlessthey are worried about pesticides. But there is really no worry if they recive the produce form alocal grower.NFT channels are usually set up on waist-high stands that slope slightly to allow the nutrientsolution to drain to one end. Although round pipes have been used in NFT production, mostgrowers have found flat bottomed channels or gullies provide greater surface area for rootdevelopment and oxygen uptake, resulting in better, faster plant development.FloatFloat systems take advantage the surface of the nutrient solution. Most float systems are long,rectangular reservoirs built out of cement or wood and lined with a durable, poly liner. Holes arecut in a foam board which floats on the surface of the water and plants in net pots are set in theholes. The plant roots dangle in heavily aerated nutrient solution.In areas where raw materials are limited and manufactured hydroponic systems and compo-nents are not available, the float system can be an economical means of hydroponic cropproduction.Ebb and FlowThe Ebb and Flow (also know as flood and drain) method of hydroponics simply floods agrowing area for 5 or 10 minutes and then the nutrient solution drains away. The nutrient solu-
  • 10. tion is stored in a reservoir that can be located under the grow table. Ebb and Flow is common inhobby systems but not often found in commercial production. In an Ebb and Flow system,the plant roots are usually grown in a medium of perlite, rockwool or expanded clay pebbles.AquaponicsIn hydroponics, you mix a specific nutrient formula in solu- tion which is fed to the plants. Inaquaponics, you combine aquaculture (fish farming) with hydroponic production. The nutrient-rich waste water from the fish tanks is pumped through plant grow beds. Although not as preciseas a hydroponic fertilizer mix, the effluent from a fish tank is high in nitrogen and many otherelements and most plants will do quite well in aquaponics.The key to aquaponics is the establishment of a healthy bacteria population. Beneficial bacteriathat naturally occur in the soil, air and water convert ammonia (the primary form of fish waste)to nitrate and then to nitrate, which the plants readily uptake. In consuming the nitrate and othernutrients in an aquaponic system, the plants help to purify the water.Although the combination of hydroponics and aquaculture is quite new, the interest in this tech-nology is booming. Aquaculturists who normally have to buyexpensive water purification equipment to purify the water see aquaponics as a great way toclean the water and end up with another, very marketable crop. Hydroponic growers see thevalue in a natural source of nutrients, already in solution.The water from a fish tank can be pumped through any hydroponic grow bed in place of ahydroponic fertilizer solution. For commercial aquaponic production, designs that show greatpromise include the float system, NFT and ebb and flow.AeroponicsAeroponics is the method of growing where the plant roots are constantly misted with a nutrientsolution. Designs include an A-frame with boards on each side, plant plugs set in each side and amister between the boards spraying the roots. A round, large diameter PVC pipe set verticallywith plant plugs all they way around and a mister mounted inside is another way to set up anaeroponic system. Although aeroponics is a unique way of growing, it is not a common means ofcommercial production.PassivePassive hydroponic systems are sometimes used by hobbyists. A passive system does not useHowTo Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 17pumps or timers to flood the root zone. The roots usually dangle into the nutrient solution anddraw what they need. A passive system is generally slower growing and not as productive as theother methods discussed.Hydroponic Growing Mediums:In a traditional garden, plant roots are in the soil. They support the plant and search for food andwater. In hydroponics, we sometimes use a growing medium in place of soil to help support theplant and to absorb the nutrient solution. The roots of a hydroponic plant do not work as hard asthose of a plant grown in soil because their needs are readily met by the nutrient solution we feedthem.Ideal mediums are chemically inert, porous, clean and able to drain freely.Since the beginning of hydroponics, many materials have been used as hydroponic growingmediums, some of which include vermiculite, saw dust, sand and peat moss. More recently,rockwool, perlite and expanded clay pebbles are available and excellent choices for hydro-
  • 11. ponics. Descriptions of today’s popular growing mediums, perlite, rockwool and expanded claypebbles follow.PerlitePerlite is derived from volcanic rock which has been heated to extremely high temperatures. Itexplodes like popcorn, resulting in the porous, white medium we use in hydroponics.In addition to uses in hydroponics, perlite is also used in many commercial potting soil mixesand in non-horticultural areas including construction and as a packing material. . Perlite can beused loose, in pots or bagged in thin plastics sleeves (referred to as grow bags because the plantsare grown right in the bags). Plants in perlite grow bags are usually set up on a drip feed systemand each standard bag holds 3 or 4 long term plants.RockwoolRockwool is derived from basalt rock. It too is heated to high temperatures but then is spun intofibers resembling insulation. These fibers are spun into cubes and slabs for hydroponicproduction.The cubes are commonly used for plant propagation and the slabs are used similarly to the perlitegrow bags. A plant is set onto the rockwool slab and grown there. The plant roots grow downinto the slab. Rockwool slabs usually hold 3 or 4 large plants.Expanded Clay PebblesMany hobby hydroponic gardeners use expanded clay pebbles for their growing medium becausethey have a neutral pH and excellent capillary action. For commercial applications, ex- pandedclay pebbles are generally considered too costly.The field of hydroponics is something that will not only produce much more than a tradtionalfield can but it will also cut costs. You won’t have to pay for soil testing, soil itself, addedminerals and more. There will be less of a cost regarding your laboy and in many cases peoplehave used alternate power sources to create a truly earth friendly or “green” environment. Argots2012 showcased recently the relationship that solar power and hydroponics had in a matchedrelationship. The festival takes place each year in Barbados, where the sun beats hot. One of2012’s exhibits showcased photovoltaic panels that converts the suns rays into electricity whichlit the lights and powered the pumps to operate the hydroponic greenhouse. It is amazing thepower we can harvest naturally from the earth around us. Plus, the cost is driven down and theFederal government is even giving tax breaks to people who invest in “green” power sources.Chapter 3 Investigating FeasibilityWhen determining if a hydroponic greenhouse business is right for you, it is important to dosome research to help you make the decision. After all you need to know if you can fit thebusiness on your property (which I’m sure you can), you will want to know about the size of thestructure you have to build and the feasibility of the structure in your current living conditions.Remember, even if you are not a huge corporation you will still be able to grow some produce inyour apartment with relative ease. But, if you are considering this innovative technique as analternative to what you have now then by all means read on.I think that you should first: Talk To Other Growers
  • 12. People who already grow with hydroponics will tell it to you straight. They speak with anenlightenment that a newbie could never handle. They will let you know all about the ups anddowns of growing and how to succeed. They have already battled in the trenches and this is theperfect time to talk them. This is an excellent source of information about the hydroponicsbusiness can come from people who are already in it. A hydroponic farmer can provide valuableinsight and share experiences about the hydroponics business. The questions will be somethingthat should hit the matter head on. They should be straightforward and raise questions that willaffect your business.If you cannot locate any growers in your area, you may want to contact several greenhousemanufacturers and hydroponic equipment suppliers and ask if they can give you names ofhydroponic growers that you could talk to. It’s easy to find them, look online and type“hydroponic growers” and add your locale. I bet you will have at least one hundred hits.In most cases you will find some growers are more open with information than others. It is agood idea to talk with a variety of growers, listen to what they have to say and then proceed.But what are you going to talk with them about right?When meeting with a hydroponic grower, you should find out:•Do they feel it is a profitable business?•What crops are they growing? •What hydroponic methods are they using? •Does their growing system suit their needs?• How do they market their produce?• Where do they purchase growing supplies from?• Are they happy with their supplier?• What would they do different if they had the opportunity to start over?You should also determine if there is room in the local marketplace for additional hydroponicgrowers. If not, are there other areas to market your produce within a reasonable driving distance-or- is there another crop that you could grow and market in your area? Think about your locale,the temperate area and the seasonal sensations that most people cannot wait for. You can providea veritable crowd with numerous amounts of items from a locked treasure trove.Remember to Always Research Market PricesTo help determine the price you will sell your produce at, study your projected expenses andnecessary profit for the business to be worthwhile. Also ask produce brokers, your greenhousemanufacturer, grocers, other growers and produce co-ops what similar products are selling for inyour area.As a general rule, your produce will be higher priced than field produce. If you are growinga premium quality product, many consumers will pay a higher price because they want the bestthey can buy. It is important not to undercut yourself when pricing your product.Cost of both production and of the end product varies dramatically throughout the United States.In the Midwest, average wholesale prices range around $1.30/lb for hydroponic tomatoes. On theEast and West Coast, they go as high as $2.75/lb.
  • 13. National Average UK pricesProduce prices go as high as $1.34 USThe prices are driven up depending on several situations including the latest flood that affectedthe UK’s spring crops. In fact almost each piece of produce was raised 3.5% compared to theglobal average. So even though you are working on an average price always take into accountthat there are many factors that will affect the growth rate.Talk to GrocersTake a walk into the grocery store take the time to visit the produce section. You will want to talkto local grocers to get an idea of where you can sell your produce. Plus they will be able to talkto you a little more about the average prices and how they have seen them raise in recent years.Why? Because of the shortage of food and the increasing age of the average farmer.Prior to meeting with a grocer or produce manager, it is a good idea to tour their producedepartment and familiarize yourself with what they offer and the price range they sell in. Alsonote whether they currently sell premium, hydroponic or organic produce. Observe theircustomers to see what they look for in fresh produce. Take a closer look at the produce in thesesection, examine them and look at the differences.It is recommended that you have your promotional materials, business cards and a sample ofwhat you will be growing with you when you visit a grocer y store. You will need to make anappointment with the produce manager of the store you hope to sell to. If you are not yetgrowing, you may want to purchase a few cases of hydroponic produce from another grower sothat you have a sample of what you plan to grow.Discuss your plans with the produce manager, tell him what you plan to grow and when youanticipate you will be in production. It is not likely that you will get a guarantee but, if the groceris excited about the product he will probably be willing to try it when you come into production.There are many options in this phase of your growth. I suggest you take your time.Another Option: Contact Greenhouse Manufacturers & Hydroponic Equipment SuppliersOne of the best sources of information on hydroponic growing, industry needs, producemarketing, greenhouse structures, hydroponic systems and growing techniques is fromgreenhouse and hydroponic equipment suppliers. Most greenhouse and hydroponic suppliers alsooffer an extensive line of books on greenhouse and hydroponic culture. You can view all of thisinformation online at various sites including: Hydroponics Growth chart and more.A request for literature will often provide a wealth of information.Take the time to study the literature and books to learn what you can about the hydroponicproduce business, hydroponic growing techniques and greenhouse management. There are somegreat authors out there that have personal experience embedded in each and every chapter oftheir novel. It’s a great match actually and because of that they can provide you with a greatbackground into the research. Hydroponics is still a standard part of all research.
  • 14. Reference MaterialThere are several excellent books on hydroponics. If you are serious about getting into thisbusiness, these books will be a small investment in your success. I found them all over the weband you will be able soar when you start your business.BooksHydroponic Food Productionby Howard M Resh, Ph.D. With 462 pages of information, this is possibly the most definitiveguide to soilless culture ever published.Hydroponic Home Food Gardensby Howard M Resh, Ph.D. Learn how to grow more food per square foot; avoid pest problems;automate your garden; extend your growing season. 152 pagesGardening Indoorsby: George Van Patten Easy, complete “how-to” guide on high-tech indoor and outdoorgardening - packed with drawings, examples, step-by-step instructions and expert advice.Commercial Hydroponicsby John Mason This is an excellent book with many color photos of commercial hydroponicsystems.Home Hydroponicsby Lem Jones with Paul and Cay Beardsley This book covers the basics that all hydroponicgardeners need to know.Tomato Diseases; A Practical Guide for Seedsman, Growers and Agricultural Advisorsby Jon C Watterson, Plant Pathologist This book contains excellent documentation and colorpictures of tomato plant diseases.Secrets To a Successful Greenhouse Businessby T.M. Taylor A complete guide to starting and operating a profitable greenhouse business.Hydroponic Gardeningby Raymond Bridwell This classic book on modern soilless culture shows you how to prepareand grow a hydroponic garden.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 22MultimediaThe Encyclopedia of Hydroponic Gardening CD-Romby Nelson/Pade Multimedia This interactive CD-Rom with video, pictures and text, covers over100 topics on hydroponic gardening.Hobby Hydroponicsby Nelson/Pade Multimedia A colorful 30 minute video covering the basics of hydroponicgardening.Hydroponic Farming Videoby Nelson/Pade Multimedia An informative video coving all phases of commercial hydroponicproductionMagazinesAquaponics JournalThe Aquaponics Journal is a bi-monthly magazine dedicated to gardeners and fish culturists whoutilize the unique technologies of aquaponics, aquaculture and hydroponics.
  • 15. With each issue of the Aquaponics Journal, readers discover the newest technologies andresearch on aquaponics, aquaculture and hydroponics, meet fascinating people who successfullyuse these methods of growing and learn tips, tricks and techniques that can be employed invarious growing systems. In addition, new products are showcased and a calendar of eventsupdates readers on pertinent conferences, trade shows and expos, classes and training programs.For a subscription, call 209-742-6869 or visit the aquaponics web- site athttp://www.aquaponics.comPractical Hydroponics and Greenhouse MagazinePractical Hydroponics and Greenhouse Magazine is published in Australia but available in theUS and worldwide. You can subscribe at the website or bycontacting Casper Publications, PO Box 225, Narabeen, NSW 2101 Australia, phone # +61(02)9905 9933AssociationsThe Hydroponic Society of AmericaThe Hydroponic Society of America was established in 1980 to help promote hydroponics anddisseminate information from and to all sectors of the industry. Members include re- searchers,commercial growers, educators, students and hobbyists. The quarterly publication, The SoillessGrower, contains both practical and cutting-edge information and is included with membership.In addition, the HSA sponsors an annual conference on hy- droponics. You can contact theHydroponic Society of America at 510-232-2323 or PO Box 1183. El Cerrito, CA 94539. TheHSA website is at: hsa.hydroponics.orgHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 23Hydroponics Merchants AssociationThe Hydroponic Merchants Association is an organization consisting of retailers, manufac-turers and individuals in the hydroponics industry. Members are provided with support andpromotional materials. In addition, the HMA sponsors an annual conference for members. TheHydroponic Merchants Association can be contacted by phone at 703-392-5890 or mail at 10210Leatherleaf Court, Manassas, VA, USA 20111-4245 or e-mail at HMA’s website is at: www.hydromerchants.orgWorld Wide WebThere is an abundance of information about hydroponics on the Internet. In any search en- gine,type “hydroponics” and you’ll find hundreds of websites about soilless plant culture. A list ofsome that we find helpful follows. http://www.cropking.com http://www.genhydro.com http://www.hmoonhydro.com http://www.aquaponics.com http://www.pacific-hydro.com Eco Systems, Inc American Hydroponics Auburn U Horticultural Dept CEA-GrownHydroponic Crop Physiology Lab’s Hydro Crop Production / Hydroponics CropKing, IncDe Ruiter Seeds, Inc General Hydroponics Handy Guide Hydroponic Links Harvest MoonHydroponics Hydroponic Society of America Nelson/Pade Multimedia The Trellis, GardenLinks Pacific NW Garden Supply Worm’s Way
  • 16. Other Business Information SourcesOther sources for information relating to an agricultural enterprise and starting a businessinclude:• your local Chamber of Commerce• local business associations• The US Department of Agriculture• Your County• Farm Advisor• Universities• University Extension AgentsRemember to take your time when you seek out additional information. Keep a copy ofeverything that you feel is pertinent to you and your business.Chapter 4 Making a Business PlanSuccessful projects begin with an accurate market analysis and a sound business plan. Prior toembarking on any business venture, it is important to prepare a business plan. A business plan isyour opportunity to clearly understand your goals, potential cash flow, estimated earnings andwork requirements. If you are trying to get any kind of financing, a well-written business plan isessential.The purposes of a business plan include:• defining a new business• defining agreements between partners• supporting a loan application• define objectives and means of achieving those objectives• evaluating a new product, promotion or expansion• setting a value on the business for legal or sale purposesPreparing a business plan is an organized, logical way to look at all of the important aspects of abusiness. A good plan saves far more time than it takes to complete and should be reviewed andupdated on a regular basis.A business plan should be used to set concrete tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines.Tips for Better Business Plans• All businesses, not just new or large businesses, need business planning. A business plansets goals and priorities, providing a forum for regular review and course corrections.• Long-winded business plans don’t get read. Today, the maximum number of pages abusiness plan should contain is 50.• Useful business plans contain concrete programs to achieve specific, measurableobjectives.• Good business plans assign tasks to people or departments and set milestones anddeadlines for tracking implementation.NOTE:
  • 17. Included in this package is a sample business plan for a fictitious hydroponic produce company,HydroPro. You can use this sample as a guide when writing your own business plan, but be sureto research all expenses and information to ensure it is ac- curate and based on your location andsituation. It’s extremely useful and will save you a ton of time.There are several excellent software programs that walk you through building a business plan.Investing in one of these is an investment in time-saving, planning and organization. My favorite is: Business Plan Pro, by Palo Alto Software, (541) 683-6162.Start-Up and Ongoing ExpensesPart of preparing a business plan for a new venture is determining the estimated cost of startingyour business and determining the estimated expenses and income.Start-Up CostsBe sure your estimated start-up costs include:•purchasing the greenhouse and hydroponic equipment • applicable sales tax • freight to getthe greenhouse and equipment to your location • any additional equipment not included in thegreenhouse package (if any) • add-on equipment such as a generator, shade cloths, insectscreening • purchase of computer and office related equipment • site preparation • thecost of construction of your greenhouse • building permitsOperating ExpensesBe sure your estimated expenses include:• propane or natural gas and electricity • fertilizer • consumables and growingsupplies • pest and disease control• labor • maintenance • packaging materials • marketing and promotional costs • delivery expenses / vehicle • insurance • office expenses • cost of loan/financing• laboratory analysisLabor DistributionThe amount of labor to run your hydroponic greenhouse will vary depending on the growingsystem you use, the type of crops you are growing and the size of your operation. Yourhydroponic equipment supplier should be able to give you an idea of how much work will beinvolved with your particular growing system.Prior to beginning your operation, you should outline your business activity by using anorganization chart to define responsibilities of each member. This is important whether you are afamily, a partnership or a corporation. If you plan to hire labor, be sure to talk to your accountantor business advisor to acquire the proper workers regulations and forms from the state andfederal government.Be sure to think about all areas of the business that need attention, including:• Greenhouse maintenance• Plant culturing• Picking and packing• Nutrient mixing and analysis• Marketing• Delivery
  • 18. • Administration and bookkeeping• How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics BusinessChapter 5 Financial PlanningThe first step to creating your business is to make sure that your financials are in place. Properfinancial planning is crucial when establishing any business. Most experts recommend that youstart with enough extra capital to operate your business for a year and provide for your personalexpenses for 6 months without income. Starting a business without ample capitol is a sure path tofailure. Why go through all of the research, coordination, and learning the history of an areawithout making sure that you have no capital to work with?The consistency of reworking your finances is really going to take you to a new level. Take intoconsideration operating costs and include all of your expenditures in them. This includes the costof additional labor, over head, consumables and equipment maintenance. It also may includecrop insurance and advertising costs and eventually the cost to replace equipment. This is whereyou should determine whether it is profitable.Configure the cost and the benefits to your operation. What I did was include all times and fullyallowed for the costs that will make this venture attainable.This include the cost of doing all thatis necessity and then consider the interest and repayment of the loan as well. The operating costsshould be project to at least five years ahead. Unfortunately there is a strong tendency tounderestimate the cost factors and to overestimate the yields and prices. It was simple to startlearning, the hard part is configuring the cost analysis. Most people that have never grown athing in their life or have no experience growing commercially can not garner a full appreciationfor the time that any crop demands. In fact, let’s assess it now.In a 365 day year--crops requiredaily attention. This will impact your life tremendously in every way imaginable. In fact, let’snot get too whimsical just yet, you still have to plan for the future investment.Sources of FinancingIt is difficult if not impossible to secure financing for a hydroponic venture from a bankinginstitution without equity in property or other assets, a history of success in business or both.If you are applying for financing, do not approach a bank, financial institution or potentialinvestor without a business plan. The business plan should always include the cost/benefitanalysis and your operating costs. In addition make sure to research the financials for your area,the UK offers business grants for some startups and the US offers a series of government loansfor new agricultural startups.But of course your local bank is a good place to start when looking for financing. If you haveadequate equity in your home, it is likely that they will be able to assist you.The Small Business Administration (SBA) is another option for financing a new business.Information is available at 1-800-827-5722. The SBA can be reached online at
  • 19. The Money Store is working directly with the SBA to assist businesses in acquiring funding.They can be contacted at 1-800-722-3066.Farm Credit Services (FCS) is an ag lending cooperative serving states in the Midwest. Theyspecialize in lending services to farm related enterprises. For information call 1-800- 444-3276.Consolidated Farm Service Agency (CFSA), formerly the Farmer’s Home Administration, offersprograms where greenhouses may qualify. These include: Farm Ownership Loans (PA62), Non-farm Enterprise Loans (PA1231), and Limited Resource Farm Loans (PA1398). Call 202-720-8207 for more information.In the UK:Business loans in the UK: Grants Uk: are other mortgage lenders and alternative financing solutions you can find on the Web,which include:Venture Capital Alternative Financing prod/sources.htmlChapter 6 Selecting Your LocationA good location is part of the success of any business. When choosing the site for youroperation, consider these factors:Reside on or near greenhouseIdeally, it should be on a parcel where you or a person responsible for the operation resides. Ifthere is a problem in the greenhouse, a power outage or some other misfortune, you will need tobe there or could potentially loose your crop. If you live on the same property as the greenhouse,you are more likely to be aware of any problems. Most larger operations have someone wholives on site not only to maintenance the facility but to keep on top of any security breaches thatcould occur. You know those kids could consider smashing up the greenhouse when they gettired of cow tipping. Greenhouse growing has a long history, and since that is true there has beena lot of research done on it.Greenhouse should be near the marketplaceYour greenhouse should be near the marketplace where you intend to sell your produce. Yourprimary focus will be on running your greenhouse. If too much time is spent on delivery, yourgreenhouse will suffer. In most average sized operations, a 4 hour radius is the maximum drivingdistance that is considered reasonable. Retail growing and selling is the easiest area to break intoand is the best place to get your prices settled correctly. On average a population base of about6,500 people will marginally support one retail greenhouse outlet. When evaluating yourpotential customer base, consider The size of your community trade area, not just the since of thetown or city.Look for a flat parcel, open to sunlightA hydroponic greenhouse business can be started on a parcel as small as an acre. If you plan toexpand, you may want to have a larger parcel. The location that your greenhouse will sit needs tobe flat and open to direct sunlight. You should avoid a location that has heavy tree cover,mountains or anything else that would hinder direct sunlight.You should also avoid a location
  • 20. that is surrounded by field crops or heavy vegetation. These are areas that may harbor pestinsects or plant disease.Adequate water source and disposal requiredYou need to have an adequate water source for your greenhouse operation. Once you’ve chosen ahydroponic system you should have a comprehensive water analysis done by a reputableagricultural lab to be sure it is adequate for hydroponic crop production. Most water that isn’tsuitable can be purified using reverse osmosis or an ozone purification system.Determine whether or not the system you are using creates any waste water or excess nutrientsolution. If so, you will need to have an adequate disposal system. Depending on localordinances, this can range from using the excess nutrient for irrigating your lawn or garden tohaving to remove it from the premises and dispose of it.Deciding on how much greenhouse space is needed requires that one must first figure out whoyour customer will be. Who is going to be your customer? Is it just the local market? Or is itgoing to be someone else. For instance, if you wanted to make $24,000 a year on bedding plantsand poinsettias (one-third) of the money. The figure you can make $2.00 per flat profit onbedding plants and $1.00 per pot on poinsettias to earn your $24,000. Okay so now you havesomething to think about right? Most bedding plant growers have an early and a late crop, thusproducing two turns of their space each spring. This means that if you have 4000 flats would begrown in the first turn and 4000 in that second turn. These are just some specs that you want tothink about--remember we want you to know all the avenues you are getting into.It’s the mostrewarding thing ever.Chapter 7 Selecting A CropIt is important to research your marketplace to determine what crops there are a demand for.There are niche markets that some growers fill with specialty herbs or ethnic vegetables but mosthydroponic growers produce common vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce. Thedifference between what most hydroponic growers and most field growers produce is quality. Inyour hydroponic greenhouse you can grow premium quality produce which will bring a premiumprice, even with common vegetables.If you want to grow a variety of crops, it is best to start with one, and add the others one at atime. Each crop has different nutritional and environmental needs and cultivation techniques. Toavoid confusion or improper care for a crop, wait until you master one before starting another.Following is information on a variety of crops you may consider for your hydroponicgreenhouse.TomatoesVine ripened tomatoes-when choosing a crop, many new growers choose tomatoes. The primaryreasons for this are (1) a premium quality tomato is quite easy to market and brings a high price(2) tomato plants can produce up to 35-40 pounds per plant under optimum conditions.
  • 21. Most commercial hydroponic tomato growers plant one crop annually. The time from when theyseed until they start picking tomatoes is between 90 and 120 days, depending on variety andconditions. In most climates in the US, growers will start their plants in November or December,during the lowest light periods, begin picking in March or April and continue picking until thefollowing November or December. This schedule provides income for 7-8 months of the year, sobudgeting is important.On a weekly basis, the grower of indeterminate tomato plants needs to perform several culturingtechniques on each plant including clipping, suckering, leaf pruning, cluster pruning, leaning andlowering and harvesting. The tomato flowers also need to be pollinated. A grower can do this byhand on a daily basis or bring in a special hive of bees that reside in the greenhouse and pollinatethe flowers. The bees do a better job of pollinating and save someone the labor of doing it byhand.Tomatoes need a minimum of 8 hours of light per day during fruiting periods. In most climates inthe US, it is not feasible to produce during the winter months without artificial lighting and, inmany cases, it is too costly to purchase and operate artificial lights in acommercial application. This is the reason most hydroponic tomato growers use the wintermonths to propagate their plants. The lower light conditions are adequate for propagation andearly plant development, but not for fruiting.The varieties most commercial growers use are specially bred for greenhouse production. Theyare hybrids and have specific needs that must be met. The advantage of these varieties is thatthey have excellent taste and aroma and the plants produce high poundage.Recently, cluster tomatoes have become very popular. They are varieties of tomatoes that ripenuniformly and are harvested by removing the whole truss. Cluster tomatoes are also referred to as“tomatoes on the vine.”Most of the field tomatoes sold to grocery stores throughout the US are picked green,warehoused until they are needed and then gassed to turn them red. Unfortunately, they are neverreally ripe, which is why they are off-color and have no flavor. When you approach grocers andshow them a tomato that is truly red and tastes and smells like a tomato, they love it.Tomatoes that are vine ripened have a much longer shelf life than those that are green- picked aslong as they are not refrigerated. A vine ripened tomato should ideally be kept between 58o - 65oF. Temperatures lower than 55o F will quickly loss flavor. When stored correctly, a vine ripenedtomato should keep for 2 - 3 weeks.Because of the longer shelf life, most tomato growers need to deliver only once a week.Remember there are also a ton of places to get seeds from. Ornamental edibles, stokes seeds,Richters, Burpee and more.When you first start out we suggest you state with smaller varieties like patio tomatoes and bushbeans. You can harvest so much produce form these plants. When pruning these plants they willgrow larger than soil plants and they can keep on growing.Fancy Lettuce
  • 22. The demand for fresh lettuce and lettuce mixes is rapidly growing. The US Department ofAgriculture reported the worldwide sales of packaged cut lettuce reached $1.2 billion in 1997. Ifyou are in an area where fresh, high quality leaf crops are hard to find, you should consider alettuce operation. Hydroponic lettuce growers usually sell a fresh bagged mix or a whole leafcrop, including the root base to keep it fresh.Fancy Lettuce is usually grown in an NFT (nutrient film technique) system. Since fancy lettucegrows from seedling to harvest in 4-12 weeks, the chance of plant disease, fungus or pests aregreatly reduced. Hydroponically grown lettuce is far superior to field grown and, unlikefield-grown, is free of grit and sand. Leafy lettuces or head lettuce will do well in hydroponicculture. Most lettuce growers select hybrid varieties developed for good flavor and quickproduction.Since there is no fruiting involved with leaf crops and the time from seedling to harvesting isquite short (as little as 30 days), most leaf crop growers operate year round. With sequencedcluster tomato planting, leaf crops can be picked continually. Another advantage of lettuce is thatit will grow well in cooler temperatures than tomatoes or cucumbers. For greenhouse growers,that means lower heating costs. In locations with somewhat steady outdoor temperatures manyNFT lettuce growers eliminate the greenhouse altogether and grow the lettuce outdoors.The labor in a lettuce operation is in the seeding, handling and harvesting of the plants. Becauselettuce is quite perishable, it needs to be delivered several times a week, if not daily.CucumbersHydroponic cucumbers are also a popular crop. Most hydroponic cucumber growers produce theEuropean seedless varieties, bred for greenhouse production, great taste and higher yields. Theyare an excellent tasting cucumber with a skin that is very tender and sweet. The skin is so tenderthat most growers wrap the cucumbers individually to prevent punctures and scratches.Cucumbers grow in similar conditions to tomatoes and are sometimes grown in the samegreenhouse. These two crops complement each other nicely. The culturing of a cucumber plant issimilar to that of a tomato plant.Most hydroponic cucumber growers plant two crops annually. The time from seed to first harvestis less than tomatoes, at approximately six weeks. A cucumber grower will usually pick fromthose same plants for another 3 – 31/2 months and then replant.Both cucumbers and tomatoes are usually grown in a substrate system with either perlite orrockwool as the growing medium and a drip irrigation system for feeding. They can also begrown in NFT and ebb and flow systems.Cucumbers keep well and can be delivered once a week.PeppersThe market for both colored, sweet bell and hot peppers in the US is excellent. At this point,almost all of the large colored bell peppers that are sold in the US come from Holland, Europeand Mexico.Peppers are usually grown in a substrate system, with drip irrigation for feed because of thelonger duration of the crop. They can also be grown in NFT and ebb and flow systems.The amount of information available on pepper culture is somewhat limited and, even though thedemand is there, there are very few pepper growers in the US. Part of the reason may be dueto the sizes that areEuropean Cucumbers
  • 23. How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 33imported. The US gets virtually all of the large colored bell peppers while the smaller pep- persstay in the local marketplace where they are grown. For a US grower, the large peppers would beeasy to market but the smaller peppers could be a problem.Specialty Herbs, Ethnic Vegetables and FlowersSpecialty herbs, ethnic vegetables and flowers are also options in a hydroponic greenhouse buteach requires a specialty market. If you have an outlet to sell specialty items in large quantities,they may be an excellent choice.Another option for a hydroponic grower would be to specialize just in herbs. Culinary herbs thatdo well in hydroponics include:• Basil • Cilantro • Parsley • Chives • Oregano • Marjoram • SageBell PeppersOther produce that you might consider growing includes a variety of pepper plants. Green BellPeppers grow great in a hydroponic environment. In fact, Bell peppers highly complement thetomatoes. In a traditional growing scenario they each work with another. For many reasons whena tomato plant is traditionally planted farmers place bell peppers nearby thereby helping them togrow harmoniously. It’s been proven many times over and still to this day is a a lucrative modeof creating a hydroponically induced harmony. Yes, so I am saying place bell peppers neartomatoes if you can. In order to begin you have to prepare the seed bed. They should be started in porous netting andit should allow for a root system to flourish. These hydroponic peppers can grow extremely largeso they need all of the root structure support you can give them. Also using styrofoam or othermodes will have them stay upright as they grow. Once you have this plant the seeds so that theyrest in the solution its important also to remember that mostly all hydroponic plants will growlarge and these peppers are no exception.The water will have to be aerated and you should have the right amount of light as well. In fact,when you are creating the perfect structure for your plants make sure that you are taking intoaccount all that the plants need. Best pepper production comes from a warmer environment andthe peepers will grow more uniformly and sweeter if they are in a hot house. The warm air getsthe vegetable’s juices flowing, and the climate changes that most outside pepper plants endureshows up insidiously. This means that your peppers grown indoors will be well rounded, juicier,fleshier and healthier than any others you will find.CarrotsCarrots and other subterranean vegetables can be grown hydroponics as well. You will need afew extras to grow them though. For instance perlite, and vermiculite will help the plant withwater retention and it’s something to look into for your other crops. You will need a deepcontainer to plant these root crops in. The bottom should have a way to sieve the water through--holes placed in it. They need to be at least 12 inches deep and then at least 12 inches wide. Thecontainer needs to sit the first one in for water retention purposes is also an necessity. Thecarrots will germinate in 6-10 days. Carrots belong to the world of subterranean hydroponics-soyou see you can literally grow anything you would need with hydroponics!
  • 24. If only researchers from the 18th century could see the developments that we have now. The onlyproblem is that most people do not even realize the ease of care and the relative crop productionthat can come from growing these plants in a hydroponic environment. But the governmentsknow it, NASA scientists understand it-therefore it should not be too hard to tackle it in yourown greenhouse. That is if you are purchasing the correct one. The process of growing theseplants iwht simply mineral solutions and water is truly an innovation. I really hope you takeadvantage of it, once you do you will see the heights that it can take you.Chapter 8 Purchasing a GreenhouseThere are two options for starting a hydroponic greenhouse can start a new one orpurchase an operating business. Since commercial hydroponics is often a successful business,there are not too many operations for sale. If you find one, be sure to do your homework andresearch. Find out why it is for sale and if the growing system used was efficient and productive.The bottom line is that in greenhouses without sufficient heat you will be trying to garden in thewinder and heating costs will rise--it will defeat the purpose of even beginning this business inthe first place. Also consider that for heating costs you can purchase heaters--gas, electric andpropane to place in the greenhouse, and it may be more lucrative overall (but I seriously doubt it)to lay lines for a heating system in the structure.Occasionally people find an old greenhouse structure for sale and want to convert it tohydroponic use. In most cases, this isn’t cost effective for the following reasons:• The cost of a new greenhouse structure may be less than the cost of buying and repairingthe old one.• The newer greenhouses are more energy efficient and will cost you less to operate. • Piecing together the hydroponic equipment may cost you more than if you purchased acomplete greenhouse package that included the hydroponic system.When shopping for a supplier, you will find greenhouse manufacturers and companies that sellcomplete hydroponic greenhouse packages.If you are building from the ground up, ideally you should work with someone who sells thegreenhouse and all of the environmental control and hydroponic equipment as a package. Lookfor a company that will support you when you purchase the equipment as well as duringconstruction and on through production. Having a reliable company to call when you have aproblem is worth a great deal. That support, especially in your first year, may mean thedifference between prosperity and failure.Just take into consideration what we discussed, heating, the cost of a new structure (which ismany cases is cheaper than repairing an older version) and of course knowing that you havevested yourself in this business with careful consideration into every aspect of growing andcreating.
  • 25. Chapter 9 Greenhouse ConstructionAfter you have considered not only your motivation for the business and the cit it’s timeto consider the fact that a greenhouse business is one of the fasted growing of its kind.In fact, people everywhere want their landscapes to be filled with life, or fruitful yearround. New greenhouses, nurses, and landscape companies use the structures and sodo hydroponic growers.There are two greenhouse styles to consider. The detached or freestanding houses orridge and furrow or gutter connected houses. The detached greenhouses standindependently and many times may be constructed using different types of greenhouse.Also the access from the work area to the greenhouse is often going to be through acentral, covered corridor or uncovered aisle. This style is the most common for growerswho are starting with 10,000 square feet or less and they want to add more in as theygrow their business.The great part about this style is that you can create a house withits own unique cooling/heating system, it’s own personalty and of course using severalhouses aids in creating unique systems for growing.Now the ridge and furrow types are connected by a gutter, they are also sometimescreated with internal walls that separate sections of the greenhouse where crops thatrequire several types of environment or internal walls separate individually. Thesesections are also going to be a problem for some because of that simple structure.The most common greenhouse structure is the Quonset which is a house essentiallyconstructed with arched rafters that are covered with one or two layers of flexiblematerials. The only one disadvantage of polyethylene is that it is subject to ultraviolet lightdegradation and must be replaced every 2 to 3 years. The cost of construction for detachedhouses is lower than the cost for other greenhouse types, usually $2.75 to $3.25 per square footexcluding heating, cooling, and benches. Many new businesses start with one or more housesthat are 25 to 40 feet wide and 90 to 100 feet long. However, this type of construction can beapplied to either the detached or the ridge and furrow styles.Many greenhouse construction companies offer packages for constructing Quonset greenhouses.These commonly come with either steel or aluminum bows and the manufacturer specifies thebow spacing depending on the structural strength of the bow material. However, beforepurchasing, select the frame based on load-bearing requirements. This will be determined bywhether or not the structure will support equipment or crops. Hanging the heat- ing system,irrigation equipment, or hanging bas- kets from the framing will increase the load-bearingrequirement. The end walls are often constructed of wood or metal framing covered inpolyethylene or rigid plastic with aluminum doors for access. The side walls are often wood ormetal with special fasteners for holding the polyethylene in place. The foundation for a Quonsetgreenhouse is usually a concrete footing poured at intervals dictated by the bow spacing.Polyethylene manufactured for greenhouse application comes in 20- to 50-foot widths, 1 to 8millimeters thick. It costs $0.12 to $0.18 per square foot. Two layers of polyethylene arefrequently ap- plied to greenhouses to reduce heating demand. Double-layer polyethylene housesgenerally cost 30 to 40 percent less to heat than do single layer houses. The two layers are keptair-inflated using a 100 to 150 ft.3/min. squirrel cage blower mounted to the inside plastic layer.Purchase 4-mil plastic forthe inside layer and 4- or 6-mil plastic for the outside. Use 6-mil polyethylene for single layerapplications. Polyethylene can be installed on wood portions of a greenhouse by nailing woodbatten strips over the film into the foundation boards and end walls. However, because
  • 26. polyethylene will require replacing frequently, investing in special fasteners will make the jobeasier. Fastening systems are available for single- or double-layer applications.A second commonly applied greenhouse type is the even span, gable roof. This type ofconstruction is appropriate where rigid glazing materials will be used such as glass or rigidplastics. The cost of construction for glass-covered, detached- style houses is higher than forQuonset types, usually $5.50 to $7.50 per square foot excluding heating, cooling, and benches.However, these structures are more permanent and require less maintenance. Gable constructionwith rigid glazing is a good choice when plans are long-term and the business is well capitalized.This type of construction can also be applied to either the detached or the ridge and furrowstyles.Gable houses on the other hand use galvanized steel, aluminum, or a combination of the twomaterials for constructing the frame. The weight of glazing material, the weight of equipmentattached to the frame, snow and wind loads, and the width of the greenhouse will have an impacton the type and size of materials chosen, size and spacing of support posts, and the design andconstruction of trusses. Glass is very heavy and re- quires strong support while rigid plastics arelighter requiring less support.Prior To Building Your GreenhouseIt is important to contact your building department and look into zoning ordinances prior tobeginning construction. Building or construction permits may be required.If you are skilled with basic tools and have some mechanical abilities, you can build yourgreenhouse yourself. You can also hire a contractor to construct your greenhouse. If you hire acontractor, be sure they are competent, licensed and insured.To operate an environmentally controlled hydroponic greenhouse you will need electricalservice, water and natural gas or liquid propane at the site. Be sure your electrical service andnatural gas or LP lines are sized correctly for your operation, with room for expansion.Your greenhouse site needs to be level or at a slight grade depending on the greenhousemanufacturer’s specifications and the type of growing system you’ve selected.When your pad is ready, you will need to gravel or cement it. Cement will provide a cleaner andeasier surface to walk and work on but gravel is less expensive. If using a row crop system, youcement just the walkways and leave gravel rows for the plants. Each gravel row will need aburied drain tile to collect excess nutrient run off. A collection tank for excess run-off will alsoneed to be installed. Nutrient reservoirs are usually buried at one end of the greenhouse. If yoursystem uses a reservoir, keep this in mind when planning the layout of your walkways and floorIf you’ve purchased a greenhouse package, it will arrive as many separate components. Be sureto inventory all of the parts as you unpack the system and confirm that everything you ordered isthere.Familiarize yourself with the parts, instructions and blue prints before you begin constructionand then store the parts in the order that you will need them.Greenhouse ConstructionWhile building your greenhouse, be sure to contact the greenhouse manufacturer if you havequestions. Plan ahead and study the blueprints. If you are building over a weekend, get anyquestions answered on Friday, prior to the weekend so you are not delayed.Level PadCemented walkways, frame posts
  • 27. How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 36Depending on the style of greenhouse you are building, you will either install grounds stakes orwall posts. The frame is usually screwed or bolted together. Again, follow the manufacturersinstructions carefully to avoid mistakes in construction.If you will be growing row crops such as toma- toes or cucumbers that need support, you willalso have to cement in the plant support posts. This can be done before or after the frame isconstructed.In most cases, your greenhouse will be orientated north and south. The north wall of yourgreenhouse is framed out in wood, insulated and sealed because there is no direct sunlight thatcomes from the north. Your cooling fans, door and heaters are usually framed into the north wallof the greenhouse.The south wall is usually made of a clear plastic to allow sunlight in. If you are using anevaporative cooling system, it is usually installed in the south wall.If you are using poly covers, they are pulled or rolled over the frame and secured in place with asnap locking device. A double poly cover can be used for better heat retention in the winter andmore efficient cooling in the summer. When covering your greenhouse with a poly cover, do iton a calm day with as much help as possible.The hydroponic growing system that you choose should be installed to the manufacturer’sspecifications. The two most common commercial hydroponic systems are the drip system andthe NFT system.A drip system is usually set up to feed the root base of the plant on a timed basis. The plant rootsare grown in a media such as perlite or rockwool. The media serves as a place for the roots tolive and is porous, allowing it to absorb nutrient solution. In a drip system, there is usually 2, 3 or4 plants per bag or slab. By isolating the plants roots into small groups, you lesson the chance ofa root borne disease spreading throughout your greenhouse.This makes a substrate system ideal for long term crops.If you are using a substrate system with drip emitters, you will have nutrient concentrate tanks,an injector system, and drip irrigation lines to install. The perlite bags or rockwool slabs need tobe laid in the rows.BenchesBenches may be constructed from a variety of materials and arranged in many different ways. Carefulplanning can result in 70 to 80 percent of floor area devoted to crops with fixed benches and up to 90percent utilization with rolling or movable benches. Rolling benches are designed to open an 18- to 24-inch aisle of work space at any location along a row of benches.Supports for benches should be strong enough to hold a large number of plants and the largest containersize anticipated. Wood, metal pipe, or con- crete blocks have been used as bench supports. The benchsurface should be strong enough to support plants without sagging, but open to provide waterdrainage and air movement. Spruce or redwood lath and 1-inch square, 14-gauge welded-wire fabric orexpanded steel mesh make a strong, long lasting, open bench top. Bench height should be 32 to 36 inchesand width should be 3 feet if against a wall or up to 6 feet if accessible from both sides. Benches can bepurchased from a manufacturer in a variety of sizes and construction types.VentilationThe purposes of ventilation are to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen, to remove hot air, and to lowerrelative humidity. Forced-air ventilation relies on electric fans controlled by a thermostat and a louveredintake vent. Fans pull cool air into the greenhouse from the outside through an in- take vent and warm,inside air is pushed out. Fans should be mounted in a waterproof housing with exterior, air-activatedlouvers to protect electrical components from inclement weather and to keep cold air out during the
  • 28. winter. It is important to install a screen over the inside of fans to prevent injury. There should be adistance equal to at least 1.5 times the fan diameter between the fans and adjacent structures. The intakevent on the wall opposite the fans can have an air-activated or motorized louver. Fan capacity should belarge enough to exchange the air in a greenhouse at least once per minute. Recommendations for warmclimates call for a fan capacity to remove 12 to 17 cubic feet of air per minute per square foot of floorarea.Natural ventilation has made a comeback in the South in recent years in the form of retractable-roofgreenhouses and Quonset houses with roll-up side walls. Retractable-roof greenhouses come in a varietyof types while roll-up side walls on Quonset houses are relatively simple. In both cases, the idea is tomove as much of the greenhouse structure out of the way as possible to expose crops to natural conditionsduring warm weather.CoolingOne of the best ways to cool a greenhouse in the summer is to reduce light intensity. How much reductionto provide depends on the heat load in the greenhouse and the light requirements of the crops grown.Greenhouse whitewash and shade cloth are popular choices. Greenhouse whitewash is a special kind oflatex paint that is diluted in water and sprayed on the covering surface. This material is designed to beapplied in the spring and gradually degrade by the action of rain and sun so that little remains by fall.Shade cloth is a black, green, or white woven fabric of polypropylene that is applied over the outside ofthe covering. Shade cloth can be purchased with various weave densities that result in 20 to 80 percentlight reduction. For many greenhouse applications, 30 to 50 per- cent light reduction should be sufficient.Evaporative cooling relies on air passing through a porous pad saturated with water. The evaporatingwater removes heat from the green- house. Fan-and-pad systems consist of a cellulose pad the length ofone wall and at least 2 feet tall with water supplied to keep the pad wet during operation. Fans along theopposite wall draw out- side air through the pads. Fan-and-pad systems cool more efficiently when therelative humidity is low, a condition that is infrequent in Southeastern summers. However, a 5 to 10degree reduction over the outside temperature can be achieved with a well-designed system.HeatingTwo popular heating systems for greenhouses are forced-air unit heaters that burn propane or natural gasand hot water or steam central boilers that burn fuel grade oil. Unit heaters cost less in initial investment($.30 to $.50 per square foot) than central boilers ($1.00 to $2.50 per square foot), but cost more tooperate ($1.00 per square foot versus $.60 per square foot). Unit heaters are easier to install and requireless maintenance than central boilers require, but even heat distribution can be a problem. Central boilersprovide even heat and combustion takes place away from the greenhouse, but installation can be timeconsuming. Generally, unit heaters are more appropriate for small greenhouse ranges and central boilersfor larger ranges.Unit heaters burn gas in a firebox and heated air rises through the inside of a thin-walled heat exchangeron its way to the exhaust chimney. A fan draws air in from the greenhouse, across the outside of the heatexchanger and into the green- house. Thus, most of the heat is removed from the exhaust before it exitsthe structure. The exhaust chimney must be sufficiently tall to maintain an up- ward draft and extendabove the greenhouse roof. An 8- to 12-foot chimney is usually sufficient. Open flame heaters must bevented to the outside and be provided a fresh air supply for complete combustion. Fresh air must beprovided by an unobstructed chimney to avoid carbon dioxide buildup and production of ethylene, bothdetrimental to plants.Two warm-air distribution systems are popular for unit heaters: convection tubes and horizontal airflow.A convection tube is a polyethylene tube connected to the air outlet of the unit heater, running the lengthof the greenhouse and sealed at the other end. Warm air is distributed in the green- house through rows of2- to 3-inch diameter holes on each side of the tube. Horizontal airflow relies on a number of horizontallymounted fans 2 to 3 feet above the plants that circulate heat throughout the house. This system as well asconvection tubes may also be used at times when heating is not required, especially at night, to reducerelative humidity and discourage diseases.
  • 29. Central boilers burn fuel in a fire box to heat water to 180 degrees F or to steam in a heat ex- changer.Exhaust smoke passes through a flue to a chimney that vents exhaust to the outside. The heated water orsteam is delivered to the green- house to exchange heat with the air through pipe coils, unit heaters, or acombination of both.Climate ControlTraditionally, the operation of heating, ventilating, and cooling equipment has been controlled bythermostats at plant level located close to the center of the greenhouse. This system is still usedeffectively in small operations, especially those with detached greenhouses. For accurate control,thermostats should be shaded from direct sunlight, preferably by mounting them in a plastic or wood boxventilated by a small blower. Thermostats have the advantages of being simple, inexpensive, and easy toinstall, but may be inaccurate and lack co- ordination with environmental control equipment.Step controllers and dedicated microprocessors overcome the limitations of thermostats by providingmore complex staging of heating and cooling systems and by coordinating the activities of heating,cooling, and ventilating equipment. These units generally cost from $800 to $2,500. Greenhouseenvironmental control computers add additional levels of control over greenhouse equipment along withweather sensing, environmental data logging and plotting, and other functions.So after learning the intricate nature of creating and constructing your greenhouse I just want to makesure you are still with us here. Right? Okay, now moving on we are going to talk about lifestyle and dayto day operations.Chapter 10 Day-to-Day OperationNo matter what crop you grow there daily, weekly, monthly and annual chores involved theoperation a hydroponic, controlled environment greenhouse. Fortunately, a controlledenvironment greenhouse is an excellent environment to work in. While working you aresurrounded by lush, healthy plants that, if treated right, will bear your annual income.Operating a hydroponic greenhouse does not require hard, difficult labor. It does, however,require vigilance, dedication and careful observation. This means that your entire lifestyle willchange.Daily, most commercial hydroponic growers test and monitor the pH and nutrient concentrationsof the source hydroponic solution and the solution of the reservoir. In addition, temperature,humidity and light levels are monitored. Based on the test results, the stage of growth of theplants and the amount of light available, alterations in fertilizer concentrations or ratios may benecessary.An efficient grower will record all of this information. This data is helpful when assessing theoverall health of the crop, diagnosing problems and ascertaining what factors may havepositively or negatively affected their crop. Entering this data in a spread sheet program is anexcellent way to maintain a record that you can easily access and study. This data can bevaluable in years to come when a grower is making decisions about feed solution concentrationsand the effects on a crop.The most important job of a commercial grower is to be observant, meticulous and organized.When a grower is in the greenhouse, they must closely look at the plants to see if there are anychanges, pests or disease that could threaten their crop. Daily observation is crucial in thegreenhouse and is the key to prevention of crop threatening problems.
  • 30. A commercial greenhouse is a factory. Anyone considering starting in the greenhouse businessneeds a basic understanding of the greenhouse production process.If a new person asks what they need to know about greenhouse production, they are usually toldabout watering, fertilizing, insects and diseases—everything involved with the actual growing ofthe plants. All of these activities are important in producing a quality plant. But, they are only apart of the production process. The care as needed activities represent only a minor portion of thelabor required to produce a plant. Watering labor is minimal especially with automatic irrigation.Fertilizer is applied through the irrigation lines. With good basic cultural practices, insect anddisease control does not require large blocks of time. The activitiesOperations Managementwe think of as growing our product, the care as needed activities, typically account for onlyabout 25 percent of the total labor required in producing our product. Yet, these are the activitiesmost growers concentrate on.Potting, those activities involved with bringing all inputs together and onto the greenhousebench, accounts for another 20 to 25 percent of total direct labor. These are all productionactivities. They are all accomplished before we begin to grow our product. The manner in whichthey are done has a strong influence on the efficiency of the care as need- ed activities and thequality ofthe final product. Inconsistent media mixing, potting the plant too deep or too shallow and non-uniform spacing of plants on the bench will all affect labor utilization during care as neededactivities.In many greenhouse firms, labor activities associated with harvest are the most poorly managed.By harvest, the product has been produced, and we are no longer growing anything. As plantpeople, our focus has been on growing. Approximately 50 per- cent (+/-) of all direct labor isused in harvest activities. The area of greatest labor expense is often the area least managed, atleastas far as labor efficiency is concerned. Growers often fail to manage the labor used in thesystems of selecting, grooming, moving, handling, staging and delivering the plants.In commercial greenhouse production, labor is everything. If you manage labor you manageprofit. Labor is by far the single largest cost of production. If it is not properly managed, costs ofproduction will increase and quality will decrease.Plant CulturingIn addition to the daily monitoring of a crop, there are many culturing chores that a growerperforms to ensure the highest quality fruit and vegetables and the largest quantity harvest. Witha long-term fruiting crop, such as tomatoes, there is more daily culturing chores than with ashort-term crop, such as lettuce.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 39Lettuce and Herb ProductionMost lettuce and herb growers seed into an inert grow-cube in a nursery area and, when theseedling is of sufficient size, transplant it into an NFT tray or gully. Lettuce is a fast maturingcrop and the efforts of a hydroponic lettuce grower are focused on seeding, trans- planting andharvesting. An operation harvesting 3,000 heads of let- tuce per week will also need to seed andtransplant 3,300 plants to maintain continuous production. Over-seeding by 10% ensures asufficient quantity of seedlings for transplanting.
  • 31. Monitoring and adjusting the nutrient solution is important in an NFT system with a nutrientsolution reservoir. Traditionally, an NFT grower made these adjustments manually but now newdosing units accurately and automatically adjust pH and EC (concentration) of the reser- voir.Tomato and Cucumber ProductionIn a typical tomato operation, during seed germination and through the first 4-6 weeks of plantdevelopment, the work load is minimal. A tomato crop can be seeded in a very small space. Theseedlings are transplanted into the greenhouse when they are 2-4 weeks old. As the plants grow,culturing chores are added as needed.Most commercial tomato growers plant an indeterminate variety that they culture for about oneyear. The grower will begin harvesting about 100 days after seeding and continue har- vesting for8-9 months.In fruiting crops, there are five primary culturing jobs that need to be done every week. Thesejobs include:ClippingWhen the tomato plants are set out in the greenhouse, they will need to be supported. The type ofsupport system used varies from grower to grower but most are some variation of string and clipsupport where main support wires are strung above the plant rows. From the main wires a stringis hung down to each plant and then the plant is clipped to it. Tomato plants can grow as much asone foot per week so the clipping process needs to be done every week.Sucker PruningWhen the tomato plants are four or five weeks old suckers, or side branches, begin to grow atevery leaf axial. In the greenhouse, you groom the plant to one main stem. Therefore you removeeach of the side branches, leaving only the main stem and leaves. From this point on, suckerpruning will need to be done once a week. A sucker is removed by firmly grasping the suckerand bending it one way and then back the other.Cluster PruningTo ensure an even fruit load on the plant and larger tomatoes overall, a hydroponic grower mustcluster prune. Cluster pruning begins when your first tomatoes have set and are approximatelythe size of a pea. When cluster pruning, you remove the misshapen, smallest and weakest fruit,leaving the largest to develop. Most tomato growers prune the clusters to 3 or 4 tomatoes,depending on the season and the current fruit load. Most growers will cluster prune their tomatoplants once a week.Leaf PruningAs a tomato plant matures, the lower leaves can be removed to encourage fresh new growth atthe top of the plant. The lower leaves easily break off when pressure is applied at the base of theleaf.Leaning and LoweringAn indeterminate tomato variety can grow to lengths of 25 feet or more. To keep the growingpart of the plant within reach, growers lean and lower the whole plant. When the plants areleaned and lowered, the top 6 feet, which is the producing part, is left vertical while theremaining stem is laid horizontally alongside the length of the bed.Other Greenhouse Jobs
  • 32. In addition to the weekly jobs a hydroponic farmer does, there are several other processes thatneed to be accomplished on a regular basis.PollinationIn an outdoor environment, the tomato flowers would be pollinated by insects and wind but,since there are limited amounts of both in the greenhouse, the grower needs to pollinate theflowers. There are pollination wands that a grower can use. Touching this vibrating wand toevery open flower cluster will give adequate pollination.Most large hydroponic operations bring a specialized bumble bee hive into the greenhouse andallow the bees to do the pollination. The bees are labor saving and more efficient than aperson.Bees have virtually no tolerance for pesticides so, if bees are used for pollination in agreenhouse, biological control must be the only means of pest insect control.Most hydroponic cucumber varieties are self-pollinating so growers of cucumbers do not need topollinate the flowers.Harvesting and PackingMost hydroponic greenhouse growers who are close to the marketplace will allow their tomatoesto vine-ripen. They harvest them every two or three days. Hydroponic lettuce growers harvestjust prior to delivery, usually every or every other day.Many growers of premium produce will label their product with a sticker containing the brandname and brief description of how it was grown.ObservationA successful grower needs to be very observant of the status of the hydroponic growing sys- temand of the crop. The health of your plants is crucial and the best way to monitor their health is byclosely watching them grow and develop.You will get to know the look of healthy plants and, inthe event of any changes, you need to find out what is wrong as soon as possible. There areseveral books on the market that document nutritional disorders and plant diseases. At least one,if not several, of these books should be on your shelf for reference. It is important that you learnto identify any problems with your crops as soon as possible.If you are unable to diagnose aproblem, send leaf samples out for diagnosis.Leaf and Feed Solution AnalysisIn addition to observation, a prudent grower will do a routine leaf and feed solution analysis.Since the nutritional needs and health of a plant change as it ages, many growers do this as oftenas every month, especially on long term crops. It is important that you find an agriculturallaboratory that you are comfortable with, preferably one that has experience with hydroponiccrops. Be sure the lab you chose has a turn-around time of 1-3 days so that you get your resultsquickly. Other growers or your hydroponic equipment supplier may have suggestions on whichlab to use. In our experience, Scotts Testing Laboratory in Allentown, PA, is reasonably priced,has an excellent turn-around time and a knowledgeable staff. You can call Scotts TestingLaboratory at 610-395-7104 to request free test kits that include empty sample bottles, returnenvelopes and data forms.Another option for leaf and nutrient analysis is to purchase an analysis kit for testing theappropriate nutrients and do the analysis yourself on a regular basis.
  • 33. Ideally, with routine leaf and nutrient solution analysis, you should be able to be proactive inpreventing plant problems rather than reacting to them. If you wait for obvious signs of anailment, your production will suffer.Increased Production and New TechnologyWith every year of growing, you will learn more about the nutritional needs of your plants andwhat it takes to make them produce optimum amounts. As new technology develops, you willwant to take advantage of it. Be sure though, that you do not jump on the bandwagon tooquickly. If a new product or way of growing is developed, give it time to be proven incommercial applications. When investing in new equipment, be sure the return will be worth anyadded expense.Also keep in mind that there are many new developments that you may here about. Often thesenew ideas are developed in a research and development environment and are not affordable oreffective in a small or medium sized hydroponic greenhouse.Time ManagementAs mentioned earlier, hard work is essential to being successful in this business. It is alsoimportant to be flexible yet organized with your time. One of the great advantages of being self-employed and running your own business is that you can be your own boss. Be sure to manageyour time well, leaving adequate time for culturing, growing, marketing and businessmanagement. In a hydroponic greenhouse business, vacations should be planned between crops,not during.Establishing ResourcesAs a new grower and even once you have years of experience, you will want to have a base ofreliable contacts that may be able to help if you have questions or problems. Begin estab- lishinga reliable network of people early on. Contacts you should consider include:• Your greenhouse manufacturer and hydroponic equipment supplier may offer classes andtechnical support. Some have agriculturists on staff to answer your questions.• Build a network of growers that rely on each other to share experiences and knowledge.• Most counties have an agricultural agent or farm advisor. Some will be familiar withhydroponics and others won’t. They can usually be helpful in some capacity. Often they can helpyou identify pests or diseases or else have contacts who can help if they can’t.• Universities with agriculture departments and College professors may provide someinsight or help.• If you are having a pest insect problem, your beneficial insect supplier should be able tohelp you with identification. Often they will supply you with pamphlets or catalogs that showand describe most pest insects.• If you are working with an agricultural lab for your leaf analysis, they may have someoneon staff who assists in problem solving.• The Hydroponic Society of America is an organization dedicated to providing aninterchange of information on hydroponics. The annual membership is reasonable andworthwhile for all hydroponic growers. They are an excellent source of information and help.You can get more information by calling 510-232-2323.• If you have Internet access, you will find a wealth of information available onhydroponics, crops, pests and diseases. If you don’t have Internet access, get it. It is an excellentmeans of gathering current information and communicating with other growers, researchers andhydroponic equipment manufacturers.
  • 34. How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 43Manage Expenses and IncomeIf you want to be successful in this business, it is crucial that you properly manage your finances.As you start to take in money from your operation be sure that you are budgeting for your on-going expenses and for starting next year’s crop.If you are growing a long-term crop, you may have several months during the start of a new cropthat you don’t have income but the expenses of operating the greenhouse continue.When budgeting and planning your business, be prudent with your spending but do not cut backon areas that will affect your production. These areas include: heat, fertilizer, culturing labor,pest and disease control. These are the main expenses of your business and must be consideredyour cost of doing business.Also remember this the easiest way to improve the bottom line situation for any business is toattack the big ticket items first, but also keep an eye on the smaller expense items to make sureyou are not paying too much for any of the production inputs. In the example given for retailsales in Table 6, the big items in production are the cost of plugs (29 percent), labor (21 percent)and flats and soil (16 percent), whereas heat is 5 percent and fertilizer is 1 percent. To maximizeeconomic efficiency, the big ticket items must be squeezed first. For example, it appears that thecost of plugs is too high, so this could be reduced by growing your own plugs or shoppingaround for a more economical source. Too often people start with low input items like fertilizersand switch to a less expensive and maybe less desirable type without addressing the mostsignificant issues.Usually labor costs are the biggest single part of most greenhouse operations. Greatest laborusage, at least as it relates to plant production, is in order of significance: watering crops, pullingand packaging plants for shipping, planting and transplanting and providing care as needed.Any attempts at automation to reduce labor inputs must start with reducing the time spent onwatering. Studies have shown that many watering systems will pay for themselves within onegrowing season. Hand watering costs about $0.80 per square foot per year whereas tube wateringsystems cost about $0.40 per square foot to install and can be used for several years. Overheadsprinkler systems are the least expensive at $0.20 per square foot, but they are not suitable formany greenhouse crops. Boom water ing systems cost about $1.25 per square foot and areefficient on bedding plants and non-blooming ornamentals. Capillary mat watering systems cost$0.40 per square foot to install and are usually effective for two years.Trough flood systems usually cost around $2.00 per square foot while the most permanentsystem, the flood-floor system, costs about $4.50 per square foot.The second most important way of saving labor is to develop efficient ways of handling plantsand materials. Many kinds of systems are available for moving plants to and from productionareas, but they can be quite expensive. A good site layout and a wide central isle is a startingpoint for most of these systems. Much overall efficiency can be gained by considering materialshandling before the greenhouse layout and construction is started. Soil handling equipment fallsin this same category and should be one of the early phases in automation.
  • 35. Chapter 11 Establishing andMaintaining a MarketSo you’ve built your greenhouse, successfully planted and cultured a crop......what do you dowith it? Sell it of course, silly you there is more there than you could ever eat in a week. Plus weneed to consider our bottom line-always.In most cases, the cost of growing a crop in a controlled environment is higher than a crop in thefield. In the controlled environment, you have maintained ideal temperatures, humidity levelsand nutrients to the plants. In return, the produce you harvest should be of the highest qualityand, if marketed properly, should bring a premium price. This is one of the most important thingsto remember-hydroponically produced plants are of the highest quality because they are createdwith minimum pesticides, little fungal issues, tons of vitamins and grow larger and juicer thanthe average crop.There are several options when marketing your produce: You can sell directly to grocery stores,sell to a produce distributor or broker, establish a co-op or network of other growers that youmarket with or sell at farmers markets or a roadside stand.Direct To Grocery StoresWhen you sell directly to grocery stores, you have the most control over how your produce istransported and handled and eliminate any broker or distributor fees. You also have theadvantage of having an open-line of communication with the produce buyers. That personalcontact builds a relationship between you, the grower, and the produce buyer. The disadvantageis that you need to have the ability and time to effectively market your produce.Depending on the quantity of produce you are growing, you may or may not want to approach achain of supermarkets. If you are a relatively small grower you may not have enough produce tosell to a grocery store chain. If this is the case, you can target all of the privately owned grocerystores in your community. The privately owned stores like to offer products that the chains don’tso it is an easy market to tap into. Another advantage of the many privately owned stores is thatoften they are higher-end and cater to a more gourmet customer base.For wholesale market channels, growers must play by the buyer’srules. Wholesale produce buyers in the state are well establishedand are able to obtain products from a variety of sources aroundthe country. Unlike tobacco companies, they don’t need thegrower’s political support. Long-established marketingconventions in the fresh produce industry are unlikely to bend toaccommodate new Kentucky growers.Vegetable marketing and production plans need to be developedsimultaneously; the most successful growers put equal emphasison growing and marketing their products.
  • 36. The key to success in produce marketing has always been theestablishment of good relationships with buyers over time. Newgrowers, in many cases, will have to prove to potential buyers thatthey are serious about the business and are able to grow, grade,pack, and in some cases, pre-cool produce in the way the buyerspecifies.Fortunately, high transportation costs make local produce moreattractive to buyers within the state. Also, local consumers havebecome more interested in buying fresh, high quality Kentucky-grown vegetables—part of a rising national demand for fresh,locally-grown products. The demand for fresh products from localgrowers is also increasing nationwide. At least one largesupermarket chain with stores in Kentucky has been featuringlocally-grown produce and apparently would like to feature more.Transportation costs and consumer interest are creating moredemand and opportunities for both direct and wholesalemarketing.Growers must pack produce in the manner and in the containersspecified by the buyer.NOTE:This section on “Establishing and Maintaining a Market” is based on the growing and selling ofpremium hydroponic produce. This is very achievable with the proper equipment, hard work andgood management. If you are not growing a premium product, you have nothing special to selland might as well stop reading this section. A mediocre product will bring a mediocre price andwill not earn a profit in a hydroponic greenhouse operation.If you are approaching the chain stores, contact a nearby store to find out if they can buy locallyor if all sales go through a main warehouse. In most chains, everything ends up in one bigwarehouse and is dispersed from there. Unfortunately, this eliminates small growers fromentering this market and eliminates local products in the chain stores. There are some chains thatwill buy locally, so do your research is to find out if any in your area do.Produce BrokerIf you are not capable of the marketing, you may consider having a produce broker or distributormarket your produce for you. They will charge you a percentage, usually be- tween 10 –20%, tohandle your produce, but it saves you the expense of delivery and marketing. The disadvantage isthat you will probably make less than doing the marketing yourself and you will loose controlover the handling and care of your product.
  • 37. Co-OpA co-op is a compromise between you doing the marketing and having someone else do it foryou. If there are several growers in your area, they may be able to share the responsibilities ofmarketing and delivering.If you do work with a co-op, be sure that you have a clear agreement with those involvedconcerning work, costs and distribution of funds. Co-op’s were created by farm communities tokeep local buyers vested in the local produce, so they care about what they purchase and theycare about selling what you have for them.Farmers MarketA farmers market or roadside stand allows you to sell directly to the customer. If you do choosethis method, be sure that you are visible and recognizable to returning customers. Thedisadvantage of both a farmers market or roadside stand is that it takes up valuable time. Mostfarmers markets want their vendors to make a commitment to be there every time the farmersmarket is open. The advantage is that you are selling retail and get to know your customers.Many a farmer has gained regular customers at a weekly farmers market. A farmers marketoffers you the direct use of food to the community.“What makes the farmers market such a special place is that you’reactually creating community around food. Consumers purchase their fooddirectly from the producers, and they build relationships with the peoplewho provide them with their food. It’s exciting for me to bring people tofarmers markets who haven’t been before and to give them the opportunityto taste many of the fruits and vegetables that the producers are growing.Farmers want us to sample their food before buying. They’re confident thatit’s going to be delicious because it’s freshly picked.” Client at a U.Smarket.“Farmers markets are a very important part of building an alternative foodchain. You’re now eating in a different way. You’re eating less processedfood. There is no high fructose corn syrup in the farmers market. There areno monoglycerides, no triglycerides. None of those additives are present infresh, seasonal food. When you start cooking food, as opposed to buying itprecooked or processed, both you and the farmer benefit, as a matter ofhealth.” Client on the benefits of cooking with fresh local produce.Other OutletsOther outlets for your produce might include restaurants, health food, andspecialty stores. Although they are often interested in having premium produce, theyusually need a smaller quantity per week than larger markets.Getting StartedIf you plan to do your own marketing, follow these steps to get started:Choose a product name and trademark it. Create product flyers, hand-outs, posters. Printbusiness cards, stationary, invoices. Select the communities where you think your sales will
  • 38. 5 Contact the stores you hope to sell your products to. 6 Make appointments withproduce managers (they are usually there early in the day). 7Bring a sample of your produce, a knife, a cutting board, business cards and promotionalmaterials with you when you meet with the produce managers.8Allow them to taste your product!Educate Your CustomersWhen introducing your hydroponic produce in the marketplace, you need to educate both theproduce buyers and the consumers about it. Some may be familiar with hydroponics, others willnot. It is also possible that they may have seen hydroponic produce that was not the samequality as what you are growing. Make sure that you have created a website that they can go to toextract the information that they need and you can even offer them incentives for signing on withyour farm. Issue a weekly newsletter, send out Social media alert--the possibilities for marketingusing tools from the internet are boundless.Emphasize Key PointsIt is important to emphasize more than just the fact that your produce is hydroponic. Be sure tomention the other advantages of your produce over what they may be offering now. Dependingon your growing practices, these advantages may include:• locally grown • vine ripened • tastes, looks and smells better • grown in acontrolled environment • herbicide free • pesticide free (if it is true) • available yearround • higher nutritional value than field grown • minimal shrinkageBe Professional and DependableIt is important to present a professional image to the grocer when approaching them with yourproduct. It is best to bring a sample of your produce, along with business cards and promotionalmaterials with you when first meeting them. In this case, a taste is worth a thousand words.The grocers foremost concerns will be quality and dependability. They will need to be assuredthat you can deliver a quality product in a timely manner, week after week. The only way youcan do this is be consistent. There is nothing worse than time lapses to kill a business quick, soplan your growing time accordingly.Proper StorageIf you are growing tomatoes that are vine ripened, you also need to educate the produce buyerson the proper storage of your tomatoes. A vine ripened tomato should be stored at 58 - 60degrees or higher. Never lower. When a tomato is stored at temperatures below 55, it will quicklyloose its flavor. Since great flavor is one of your biggest selling points, you don’t want to loosethat flavor due to improper storage! As a general rule, tomatoes in a grocery store are kept inrefrigerated displays that are too cold for vine ripened tomatoes. Also, be sure when yourtomatoes are in the store’s storage area and not yet on display, that they are kept at the correcttemperature.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 47Displays, Posters, Hand-outsTo educate consumers it is important to use displays, posters and even hand-outs that informthem about the advantages of hydroponics, how the produce is grown and why it tastes so good. You may also consider doing in-store tastings when introducing your product in a newmarket. Nothing sells your produce better than letting the consumer taste it.
  • 39. Label Your ProduceMost hydroponic growers will label their produce with a sticker. Some use a sticker that says“hydroponic,” while others establish a name for their product. You may want to use a name andalso include a few of the advantages on the sticker such as: Your name, “vine ripened,” “locallygrown,” “hydroponic.”Name RecognitionName recognition is an important factor in selling any product. Choose your name carefully. Itshould represent you and your product accurately, be easy to understand and easy to remember.When you choose a name for your produce, you should go through the trademark process toensure that you are not infringing on someone else’s trademark and to ensure that someonecannot infringe upon your trademark.If there is a hydroponic grower or co-op that has a great name and marketing program, they mayoffer the option for others to use the name for a flat fee or a fee per pound. If their name alreadyhas recognition in the market place, this can be very valuable and save you time and money onestablishing your own name and marketing materials.Maintain Your QualityNo matter what method of marketing and delivery you choose, be sure to maintain your quality.Never include seconds or poor quality produce with what you are marketing as your premiumproduce. Doing so will only hurt your sales. When you have produce that isn’t premium, youmight consider selling it to restaurants, at farmer’s markets or at a roadside stand.Always remember that you are selling a premium product and, as long as the quality is there, themarket will follow. Do not attempt to dictate the retail price to the produce buyer. They set aretail price that they feel the consumer will pay and that provides them with a comfortable profit.When establishing your wholesale price, be sure it is one that you are comfortable with and thatit is based on what you think is a fair profit for you, not one based on what the retail price mightbe.There will always be a market for the field produce. You are not trying to replace it, you areoffering a new option for consumers: a premium product, something better tasting, and better forthem. If you capture a small percentage of the produce sales in a grocery store, you are doingwell. Remember that the total volume they are going through is very high and even a smallpercent of that is a large quantity of produce.Whether you deliver once or more a week, always show up when scheduled, be consistent, bereliable and fair. Be loyal to your customers and they will be loyal in return.Proactive marketing strategies have proven the key to success for many agricultural enterprises.Rather than accepting the relatively low prices typically offered by wholesalers, direct marketersput the power to turn a profit back in their own hands by capturing a greater share of theconsumer dollar. Direct marketing channels offer direct connections to customers, providingthem an opportunity to buy freshConsider selling at farmers markets, opening a CSA operation, developing value-added products,offering on-farm activities like educational tours, selling via the Internet, or marketing torestaurants and schools. You can go it alone, or you can team up with others in a cooperative.Most farmers use a combination of marketing methods – both value-based strategies bringinghigher returns and volume-based channels selling more products – finding that diverse marketingstrategies provide stable profits and a better quality of life.products – grass-fed beef, just-pickedvegetables, or decorative pumpkins – and knowledge about how they’ve been grown. In return,farmers and ranchers learn what their customers like, then fill those needs with products, often ata premium. Also consider Farm site sales, open your business to consumers who want to
  • 40. purchase on site and want to be at a local market. Agritourism is another big market seller foryou if you choose to use it. That means figure out what is unique about your site, you, andmarket an educational activity around it. This should be easy if you already are a grower usinghydroponics-you could even market it as a trip to the moon or something of that nature--relatingNASA’s techniques to your own.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 48Chapter 12 Success in theHydroponics BusinessSuccess in this business requires skilled and devoted individuals who have the desire to growcrops and who have competence in management and marketing. To succeed in hydroponicsyou do not necessarily need experience in agriculture but it is helpful if you have experience inbusiness. People from all walks of life have done well in this business. Those who succeed arehardworking, diligent, meticulous and organized.The most important factor in being successful in your hydroponics business is growing premiumquality produce. Using hydroponic technology in a controlled environment greenhouse allowsyou to do this. But then again if you are using hydroponics in the first place you should not haveany issues with creating larger crops.If you are entering hydroponics on a commercial scale, be prepared to invest in properequipment and build your facility right the first time. Once your crop is planted, your focus willbe on maintaining and culturing those plants, especially in your first year.Most growers spend their first year fine-tuning their culturing and observation skills. Often, firstyear growers are reactive to problems rather than proactive. As they get into their second andthird years, the culturing becomes routine and more focus can be placed on achieving higherpoundage per plant. Long-time growers are quick to respond to changing light and plantdevelopment conditions.When you are growing a premium quality product, the marketing of that product is the easiestpart of your venture. As long as you maintain that quality, you will build a loyal following ofcustomers who want your produce, week after week.The keys to success in your hydroponic venture include:• always maintain a premium product • be efficient with your time • correctly culture yourplants • have backup equipment on hand• educate those who buy your produce • always being reliable, dependable andprofessionalHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 49Hydroponics is a high tech method of agriculture with excellent potential. It offers a uniquelifestyle and many rewards for those involved. A commercial hydroponic greenhouse businesscan be exciting and profitable. With proper training, hard work and good business sense, yourhydroponic greenhouse can be successful.commercial hydroponic tomato cropHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 50
  • 41. Chapter 13 Extra Equipment toIncrease ProductionIn addition to your greenhouse structure and your hydroponic growing system, there are severalother equipment options that may increase your crop production and therefore increase yourgross profit. If your greenhouse is built and operating, you may consider adding these options. Ifyou have not begun building your greenhouse, you should consider incorporating these extrasnow.Bottom HeatMany greenhouse environmental control systems use hanging propane or natural gas heaters towarm the greenhouse as needed. Another method of heating is in-row or floor heating. This isvery effective in a greenhouse with row crops, like tomatoes and cucumbers. When heating fromthe ground up, there are several benefits. These include:• more efficient building heat • lessened plant fungus and disease because the rootzone is kept warm and dry • increased production due to roots being warm andmore able to take up the nutrients as needed • more uniform temperatures • earlier andincreased yieldsIf you are growing in an NFT system, the same benefit can be had by using heating mats beneaththe NFT trays to warm the root zone.Pure WaterWater purification can greatly enhance your greenhouse production. The two most commonmethods are reverse osmosis and ozone purification. A water purification specialist can help youdetermine what system will best suit your needs based on your water quality.gas fired boilerin-row rubber heat tubesHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 51Insect ScreeningMany hydroponic greenhouse growers use biological controls or other relatively safe methods ofpest control. What ever method you use, you will spend less on control if you make the effort tokeep the pests out of the greenhouse. This can be accomplished with insect screening. Yourannual expenses for pest control should be greatly decreased if you are using insect screeningGreenhouse screening is quite different than window screening. It is specially designed to keepthe pest insects out, yet will allow as much air as possible to pass through. When screening,remember that you cannot just cover a fan or shutter, you need to construct a frame or box thatcovers between 4 - 8 times as much square footage as the opening. This will allow the properamount of air to pass through your greenhouse when cooling. Your screening manufacturer cantell you the specific instructions for the screening you choose to use.Alarm SystemsAlarm systems are available to warn you of less than ideal conditions in the greenhouse. Theycan be as simple as a temperature alarm that rings when the temperature is outside of setparameters or as complex as an automatic phone dialer that calls you when temperature,humidity or feed problems arise. With the advanced alarm systems, you can program severaltelephone numbers for the alarm to call if a problem should arise. This is a necessity if you planto be away from your greenhouse for any extended period of time.GeneratorYour hydroponics business is power dependent. If you loose electricity on a hot summer day,your greenhouse will quickly overheat without the cooling system. If you loose power when it is
  • 42. cold, the temperature in your greenhouse will drop below acceptable levels. A power outage canbe the direct cause of a crop failure. Having a generator for power backup is a must.Spare PartsWhen operating a hydroponic greenhouse, it is important to have spare parts for the equipmentthat is crucial to your operation. If you operate without a backup on certain components you riskloosing your crop. Even an express service may not be able to get you the parts in time, so youneed to have them on hand.These backups should include:• Nutrient injectors • Feed solution pumpsinsect screeninggas powered generatorHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 52• Water pump • Fan belts • Fan motor • Furnace partsOther spares that are handy to have include:• Drippers • Meters • Gauges • Test equipment • Water filter cartridges• Plumbing parts• Water valvesComputerYes, you need one--but who doesn’t right? Imagine trying to do business and reach a largemarket without being online? Yes, we can use a computer for practically everything that you canthink of. In fact its amazing that we can chat, market, create and more all at the same time right?To be efficient and effective in today’s business world, you need to own a computer. Promotionalmaterials, invoicing, accounting, word processing, spreadsheets and Internet access can all bedone with a desktop computer.New environmental control systems that network with a computer are now available allowingremote control of all aspects of the hydroponic system environment.Chapter 14 Business Tips andInformationBankingIt is important that as a small-business owner you establish a good relationship with the rightbank. After all banks are going to be your “go-to” funders in this venture. In fact they are goingto be your most important friends. If you want to call them that. Bankers, by nature, are conservative and averse to risk. Your initial problem will be that mostbankers are not familiar with hydroponics or the business potential that it offers. If you look atthat problem as a communication gap, not a personality clash, youll be well on your way tobuilding a good relationship with your banker. When you choose a bank, you will probably needto educate the banker about your hydroponics business and your needs specific to it.The businessplan that you write will help a great deal in familiarizing your banker with you, the principles inyour business and your projected financial needs and income.There are some really simple means available to you if you consider using powerpoint and othersoftware to develop great presentations for your banking needs. First, make sure that youbusiness plan in solid-without any issues and that way you can rest assured that you will haveyour story down. Like I said, they know nothing about what your business is--convince them
  • 43. why they should invest in you. It is after all an investment that in many cases they expect a returnon.Determining Your Banking NeedsPrior to choosing a bank, you should determine your banking needs. Your needs willdepend on where you are in the business life cycle. In the first year or two, youll probably need abusiness checking account, a savings account, credit card and, if you process credit card orders,youll need merchant card services.Other services you might need include:• Letters of credit (domestic and international) • Notary service • Travelerschecks • Commercial line of credit• Loans (including Small Business Administration guaranteed loans) • Safe depositboxes • Wire transfers • Direct deposit of payroll checks for employees• Payroll tax deposits • Lockbox servicesOther considerations might include location of bank and bank fees on accounts and services.Your goal is to match your needs with the right bank in your community. Many entrepreneursprefer to open their first business accounts with a smaller, community lender. The advantage ofworking with a small bank is that you will probably get to know the people more quickly. Insome cases, you will receive better day-to-day service.The down side of dealing with a smaller bank is that it may be limited when it comes to theHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 54amount of money the bank can lend your company. Furthermore, a smaller bank may not be asfinancially sophisticated as you need it to be.The most important factor when choosing a bank is finding a banker who is responsive to yourneeds, and knows you, your business and your accounts.Finding a Good BankerAsk friends and colleagues to recommend their favorite bankers. If you know of otherhydroponic growers or businesses in the produce industry in your area, you should ask them for arecommendation. Many bankers move around, so if you find someone you like, you may beforced to follow that person from one financial institution to another.Set up interviews with a few potential bankers. Meeting with them face to face is critical tomaking an informed decision.You should also ask for references and call other business ownerswho are bank clients. Since changing banks is such a hassle, you want to invest time up-front andmake a decision based on research, as well as personal feeling.When you have selected a banker, try to schedule a time to open all your accountssimultaneously. Be sure to link together accounts that you plan to move money to and from, getyour ATM card and choose a secret personal identification number.Since you are a business, open a business account. The charges may be a little higher, but it ismore professional and advantageous in bookkeeping and tax preparation. If you deposit enoughmoney, youll probably qualify for a free safe deposit box and other perks.Once your money is safely tucked away, a good banker will spend time getting to know as muchas they can about you and your business. You should provide your banker with current andcontinuous information so there will be no surprises. Invite your banker to visit your greenhousefacility. Send him or her copies of new promotional materials, press releases, annual reports etc.Finding a Good AccountantNo matter what stage your business is in, youll need an experienced accountant to help you steera steady course. A good small business accountant not only understands and keeps up with state
  • 44. and federal tax laws, but should know enough about your business to become a vital member ofyour team.Consult your accountant before you buy any equipment, sign a major deal or relocate yourbusiness. If you plan to sell your business or sell shares to the public, having a skilled accountantis essential.But how do you find the right accountant for your small business? If possible, look for someonewith extensive background and experience in hydroponics or, at least experience in theagriculture or produce industry.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 55As with finding a banker, the best way to find a good accountant is through word of mouth andrecommendations. Ask friends, neighbors, and business associates for recommendations. Call thelocal professional society or trade association office for a list of referrals (most have free referralservices). In addition to being able to crunch numbers and understand complex tax laws, a goodaccountant should be a good listener who genuinely cares about you and your business.Remember, in order to do a good job, your accountant has to know everything about you, yourfamily and your business. This is why it is essential to find someone you feel comfortable talkingto. He or she should be both competent and have good chemistry with you and your staff.Once you assemble a list of potential candidates, call their offices and ask someone there to sendyou a company profile, brochure or other written material. When the package arrives, study it. Isthe material clear and well presented? Is the cover letter neatly typed?It is important that the firm makes a positive first impression, because they might be representingyou and your company to potential investors, customers and even the Internal Revenue Service.Schedule an appointmentIf the package looks good, call and make an appointment to meet with the owner/partner at thefirm. Many entrepreneurs prefer to work with small accounting firms where they’re more likelyto work directly with a partner or principal. Most reputable accountants will meet withprospective clients at no charge.Make a list of questions you want to ask during your interview. Remember, you want to find outif the individual has experience serving your particular industry, as well as whether or not he orshe is competent.Sit back and listen to what they say. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable talking with them.Remember, you will be sharing very personal financial information.Be sure to discuss these issues• What does the accountant plan to charge you for various projects and services? • Will heor she be doing the work or relying on others in the firm to help? • Exactly how does he or shewant you to provide information. By fax? On disk? Inperson? • Is the accountant familiar with your accounting software? • When specificallydoes the accountant need information from you? • Will he or she represent you in a disputewith the IRS? • How often do they expect to be paid?Ask for referencesIf the chemistry and credentials are right, ask for a short list of other clients you can call forHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 56references. If the person is reluctant to provide such a list without a legitimate reason, this is ared flag.You want to hear about the accountant and the firm from other clients directly. You also want toask whether or not they are up-to-date with the professional courses they are required to take bytheir accrediting organizations. Finally, make sure the person is a Certified Public Accountant
  • 45. (CPA). An individual must meet certain qualifications in order to become a CPA. Don’t be afraidto ask if the person is a CPA and how he or she became one.Remember, if things dont work out, dont be afraid to change accountants. There are thousandsout there who would be happy to have your business.How To Determine if Your Customers are Credit WorthyMany grocery stores will want you to extend credit to them so payment isn’t required at the timeof delivery. This makes delivery quicker and more convenient, but places you in a position ofneeding to evaluate their credit worthiness. No matter how large the organization or how well-known your client, dont risk not getting paid. Never assume someone is creditworthy.Remember that extending credit puts you squarely in the role of the banker. Take these steps asany banker would to make sure clients qualify for the privilege of having credit.Ask for and check credit referencesFor established companies, one of the easiest ways to do a credit check is to simply call theaccounting office and ask for references. Most companies have a ready list of their regularvendors. For individuals or new companies you can require a completed credit applicationrequesting credit references including a bank reference.Just asking for references is not enough, though. You have to actually contact them:•••Find out how long theyve been doing business with your customer. Check out the customerspayment history. Check to see if they pay promptly and if there have been any collectionproblems.Do an online credit checkDepending on who your clients are, you may be able to obtain credit information via yourcomputer through one of the following sources:Through NewsNet, Dun & Bradstreet provides three types of reports on over nine million publicand private U.S. companies:The "Business Information Report" provides information on a firms operation, profitability, andstability. The" Payment Analysis Report" compares the companys payment habits over twoyears. The "Family Tree Service" shows corporate ties among a company and itsHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 57parents, branches, divisions and subsidiaries. To sign up for a NewsNet account call 800-345-1301.Through NewsNet and CompuServe, TRW Business Credit Profiles offers credit information onmore than 13 million companies. The information includes credit histories, tax liens, judgments,and bankruptcies. To sign up for CompuServe call 800-848-8990.NCI Network provides credit information from three major credit networks and can do onlineskip tracing. It can search through motor vehicle licenses, cross-check telephone directories,public records of judgments, tax liens, bankruptcies, criminal records and social securitynumbers. You pay a one time fee, usually $500 -$700 plus a fee for each report. You can reachthe NCI Network (a subsidiary of WDIA Corporation) at 513-522-3832.Start with small amountsExtend credit gradually after building a relationship of trust. When credit information isunavailable or is not positive, wait until you have done business successfully with a client over aperiod of time. Then extend the amount of credit you feel comfortable giving. Over time,increase the credit level as the client establishes a reliable history with you.Attracting Free Press and Publicity
  • 46. Hydroponics is a high-tech means of agriculture that many people find fascinating. One of yourbest sources of advertising, exposure through news media, newspapers, television, and schools,is free.If your local newspaper writes a short, positive story about your business, the chance of it beingpicked up by a local television or radio station is very high.You should consider contacting the local papers and television stations, including your publicaccess channel, and telling them about your operation. As your business develops, expands, oreven when you start a new crop, or experiment with different crops, you have the opportunity towrite press releases and again contact the media.One of the best ways to generate positive publicity for your company is to do something good foryour community. You can set yourself apart from all the negative news in the press today bystanding out as a community leader.Here are some ideas that will attract positive coverageThe schools are a great place to start. You may consider:• Giving a presentation to the vocational agriculture program to inform students aboutpotential careers in commercial hydroponics.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 58• You could set up a small hydroponic system for the local school science department toexperiment with.• Offer tours to students, teachers and agriculture groups, like 4H. Other options to helpyour community and draw attention to your business include:• Donate your misshapen tomatoes to a food shelter or church.• Create a scholarship to honor a student studying agricultural science.• Sponsor a recycling drive and donate the profits to your favorite charity.• Offer your prunings from the plants to gardeners for composting. Your used perlite makesan excellent soil conditioner that gardeners also may want.These small, community-minded projects will merit at least a paragraph or two in your localnewspaper. If you are sponsoring a community project, call the local television stations as well.Stations are always looking for a good story involving people doing something positive.Draft a press releaseOnce you decide on a project, draft a press release about it two weeks before the event. Send itout on company letterhead to the editors of local newspapers (call the paper to locate the editorsand the correct spelling of their names). Send the release to the assignment editors of the localtelevision or radio stations.Make a follow up phone callFollow up a few days later with a brief phone call. Try not to call any news organization in thelate afternoon. Most morning newspapers are edited and put together from 3p.m. - 7p.m. Yourbest chance of reaching an editor is between 10:30 a.m. and noon. Take advantage of voice mailand leave a detailed message. You want to be persistent without being a pest. Television stationsare more apt to assign stories on a daily basis.Invite the mediaYou might also invite your local station or paper to participate in your event as a media sponsor.This takes more time and effort, but it may be worth it. Remember, no matter what you decide todo to generate publicity, emphasize the community service aspect and be sincere about yourefforts. Also try to involve all your employees and their families in your event.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 59Keeping Your Customers Happy
  • 47. If you are delivering your produce directly to the grocery stores, you have a great opportunity tocommunicate with the produce managers and the people who sell your product. If you are sellingat a farmers market, roadside stand, or from the greenhouse, your customers come to you.Being open and friendly is always the best approach when dealing with your customers. Here aresome ways to acheive this:• Have an open door policy. If not all the time, designate a few hours a week when anyonecan drop in to meet with you informally and privately.• Be accessible. When you walk around your business, greet everyone. Ask them howthings are going. Youll soon be hearing things first, not last.• If someone shares some negative information, thank him or her, dont place blame. • When delivering produce, inspect the display and offer assistance if it needs work. • If a customer wasn’t happy with your produce, offer to replace their purchase. • Askcustomers if they would recommend your business to others.• Ask your employees to submit their suggestions on a regular basis. • A suggestionbox is a low-tech way to keep good ideas flowing your way. Give prizesfor the best suggestion submitted every month.Determining When it is Time to Increase Your PricesWe all would enjoy bringing in additional income without having to work any harder. But mostof us hate to raise our prices. We worry whether higher prices will turn away new customers andwhether existing customers will cut back on what they buy from us, or worse yet, purchase lowerpriced, lesser quality produce. Many people are surprised to discover, however, that theirbusiness increases when they raise their prices. Should you be charging more? Look for thesesigns because if you see them then it’s time to raise your prices.Have your business and living expenses increased?As the cost of living and doing business goes up, your prices need to go up too. Run a report onyour business expenses over the past two years to see if and where they have increased. Comparethe relationship of your personal income to your business expenses. Unless you raise your fees, aconsistent increase in business expenses means a corresponding decrease in your personalincome. Your fee increase needs to cover your increased costs and allow some room for growingexpenses. If you don’t plan for expense growth, you will have to raise your prices again soon.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 60This also applies to seasonal increases and costs. If you are heating your greenhouses through thewinter months, your costs will definitely be higher and so should your selling price.Are your prices lower than other hydroponically grown or premium produce?Do you know what others growing comparable produce are charging? If not, find out. Contactproduce buyers or hydroponic equipment suppliers. How do your prices compare? You maydiscover youre operating at an outdated price. Customers shy away from products and servicesthey perceive are too cheap.Do buyers quickly agree to your price?If you never get a shred of price resistance, its probably time to raise your prices. To test thewaters, start listening to your clients response when you quote your price. Watch their reactioncarefully. Do they comment with some degree of surprise, “Seems reasonable.” Do they snap upyour offer a bit too eagerly? Such reactions are a clear indication you can increase your feeswithout much resistance.Has your reputation, service and expertise grown?
  • 48. Most on-going customers actually expect periodic price increases. Having proven yourself to bea reliable and valued service over the years, you should be able to raise your pricescommensurately.Is the economy picking up?Have you been riding out an economic downturn? In tough economic times, prices in an industryoften remain static until things pick up. During stagnant times, no one thinks much of raisingprices. But as the economy picks up, pent-up demand makes raising prices easier.If these signs apply to you...The more these signs apply to you, the more likely its time to raise your prices. They areevidence that you owe it to yourself to raise your rates. Doing so need not be a traumatic event.Planning ahead can help. In fact, by tracking your finances regularly, you can see the signs thatwill make raising your fees easier and even routine.How To Inform Your Customers About Price IncreasesIts time to raise your prices, but youre concerned about alienating your clients. Here areseveral strategies to ease your way into a higher, more profitable price:Raise prices for new customers onlyTo avoid displeasing a dependable client, you can raise fees for new customers only. Valuedrepeat customers are so desirable, you may want to reward them for their loyalty by keepingthem at their originally quoted price. Of course, as years go by, the time will come when youmust raise your prices for all of your customers.As long as they are warned ahead of time, most produce buyers understand that produce pricesfluctuate based on market demand and season.How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 61Break the news graduallyTo reduce the shock of a fee increase, announce it in advance. Send a letter or post a notice onyour invoices. Make the announcement as far in advance as possible.Pre-test an increaseBefore raising rates for existing customers, test the waters with new customers. If they dont balkat your new prices, youll know youre in the clear. This is particularly true if you know your newfees are within the range of what others are charging. Your satisfied customers would have littleto gain by risking the uncertainties of purchasing lesser quality produce.Make special exceptionsAlways weigh the value of a big long term customers’ business against your need for greaterincome. One long term high volume customer may be a mainstay for your business. Theirbusiness may justify continuing to carry them at your existing rates while raising everyone else.Meanwhile, build up a full clientele at your new rate. You can raise your price when you arecomfortably established and have ample new business coming in. steadily at your new rate,Creating A Professionl Image From Your Home OfficeTodays new technology and changing business climate enables a small home based business tomaintain the same highly professional image as any larger organization. Here is how you cangive your home business a completely professional image.Get a separate business telephone line, answer it promptlyMake your business visible. Have a listing in both the white and yellow pages of the phone book. Answer your business phone after two rings. Greet your callers in a positive, professionalway, using your name or the name of your business. Never allow children to answer yourbusiness phone.Use voice mail
  • 49. Make your companys location and size invisible to your callers. While youre away from youroffice or talking on the phone, use voice mail. It is available through your telephone company ora private service. Or install a voice mail system in your computer. Even better, if you can affordit, rent a beeper and leave the number on your voice mail. That way you are always available toyour customers.Communicate quality with a custom designed logoUse a unique custom designed logo on business cards, letterheads, envelopes, and invoices.Avoid using a logo from among standard designs offered by printers. To keep costs down,arrange to have a college or design student create your logo as a class project.Have one consistent graphic look for all your business materialsGive your company an identifiable image. Make sure your business cards, letterhead, envelopes,invoices, and presentation folders project one coordinated look. Creating a consistent graphicimage need not be costly. Using a laser or color deskjet printer andHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 62desktop publishing and graphics software, you can design and create a quality graphic image forall your materials.Select a professional location for meeting with clientsIf your office is within your home, have a separate area, possibly within your greenhouse orpacking facility for meeting with customers.Hiring Good EmployeesAs a small company, you must focus on hiring the best from the very beginning because youdont have the time or financial resources to waste on a poor employee. When looking for newemployees, you should:• Tell your customers and vendors that you are looking for new employees.• Contact your local high school, agriculture department. The teachers may know of somehard working students who are interested in agriculture and may have even studied hydroponicsin science classes.• Consider hiring older workers. Retired managers and executives not only havetremendous experience and knowledge, but are often happy to work at a lower rate of pay.Contact your trade or professional association, local chamber of commerce, and rely on word-of-mouth to find a retired person to hire.• Advertise in the local newspapers or trade publications before you spend a lot of moneyon advertising in major papers.• Contact your state Employment Development Department. The state can help you findjob candidates in many fields. The job placement center at your local college or university isanother source.• Offer training as an attractive perk.Once you have found the right person for the position, you can tell the prospective employee thatyou will invest in their future by paying tuition for agricultural classes, business classes,hydroponic workshops, or any other kind of class that will benefit both you and the employee.This increases flexibility and can boost productivity.Delegating ResponsibilityThe same strong ego that drives successful entrepreneurs, often leads to management failurewhen the business owner refuses to delegate responsibility. Knowing when and how to delegateis an essential key to business success.At first, it’s easy to wear all the same hats in your company because you can’t afford to hire anyhelp. But as your company grows, you have to let go of some of the more routine
  • 50. How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 63daily work so you can devote your energy to acquiring customers and bringing in cash.An even more compelling reason to delegate work is to prevent entrepreneurial burnout. Toomany small business owners jeopardize their health and the health of their company by workingtoo hard.The first step toward delegating is to write down all the things that take time and energy awayfrom the real business of your company. You should not be spending your valuable timeanswering the phone, typing letters, opening and sorting the mail, or doing the daily greenhouseculturing. Your time is much better spent on product development, sales, or customer relations.The next step is to hire some affordable, part-time clerical or greenhouse help to take over thesetasks. Graduate students, especially those studying business, and retired people are perfectcandidates for these tasks. Many part-timers are willing to work for little more than the minimumwage, especially if their work hours are flexible and the work environment is energetic andpleasant.Before you hire anyone on a full time basis, work with a temporary agency to try out a fewdifferent people for a week or two. This not only helps you figure out what kind of person youprefer to work with, but will help you shape and define the job and the skills needed to do it. Youmight even want to hire your favorite temporary worker on a permanent basis. Most agencies arewilling to place a skilled temporary worker in a permanent job for an additional fee.Remember, one of the great benefits of owning your own business is that you can choose whoyou work with. So spend time recruiting people who are highly skilled, and are easy to workwith. Only then will you reap the benefits that you have sown.Where to Get Help in Every StateAnd in the UK.The Government and many Universities offer free professional assistance for people inagricultural enterprises. In many states, the Extension Service, a department of the United StatesDepartment of Agriculture, has established special programs geared toward helping smallgrowers. At the state level, many universities and colleges provide both technical andmanagement assistance.Following is a state by state listing for expert free advice, plus a Welsh/UK extension referralsite.AlabamaAuburn University, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service 116 Extension Hall Auburn, AL 36849 205-826-4985Small Business Administration: Birmingham 205-731-1344Small Business Development Centers:Auburn Birmingham Birmingham Florence Huntsville Jacksonville Livingston Mobile Montgomery TroyTuscaloosa Tuscaloosa334-844-4220 205-934-7260 205-934-6760 205-760-4629 205-535-2061 205-782-5271 205-652-9661 334-460-6004 334-293-4138 334-670-3771 205-348-7621 205-348-7011Alaska2221 E Northern Lights Blvd, No 240 Anchorage, AK 99508 907-279-5582Small Business Administration: Anchorage 907-271-4022Small Business Development Centers:Anchorage Fairbanks Fairbanks Juneau Kenai WasillaArizona907-274-7232 907-456-1701 907-451-6611 907-463-3789 907-283-3335 907-373-7232University of Arizona, Department of Plant Sciences Tucson, AZ 85721 602-621-1945
  • 51. Small Business Administration: Phoenix 602-640-2316Small Business Development Centers Coolidge 520-426-4341 Cottonwood 520-634-3974How ToStart and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 65(Arizona continued)Flagstaff Holbrook Kingman Nogales Payson Phoenix 602-392-5220 Phoenix 602-238-9603Prescott Sierra Vista Tempe Thatcher Tucson YumaArkansas520-778-3088 520-459-9778 602-731-8720 520-428-8590 520-748-4906 520-341-1650University of Arkansas Department of Horticulture and Forestry Plant Science 314 Fayetteville, AR 72701 501-521-2603Small Business Administration: Little Rock 501-324-5813Small Business Development Centers:Arkadelphia Fayetteville Fayetteville Fort Smith Harrison Hot Springs Jonesboro Jonesboro Little Rock MagnoliaPine Bluff Stuttgart501-230-5224 501-575-5148 501-575-7473 501-785-1376 501-741-8009 501-624-5448 501-972-3517 501-932-3957 501-324-9043 501-234-4030 501-536-0654 501-673-8707520-526-5072 520-537-2976 520-757-0894 520-287-2569 520-474-8821CaliforniaUniversity of California, Davis Department of Horticulture Davis, CA 95616 916-752-6617Small Business Administration:Fresno Glendale Sacramento San Diego San Francisco San Francisco Santa Ana209-487-5189 818-552-3210 916-498-6410 619-557-7252 415-744-6402 415-744-6820 714-550-7420Small Business Development Centers:Aptos Auburn Bakersfield Chico Chula Vista Clearlake Concord Crescent City El Centro Eureka Fresno GilroyIrvine La Jolla Los Angeles Los Angeles Merced Modesto Napa Oakland Oxnard Palm Springs Pasadena PomonaRedding Riverside Sacramento Sacramento San Francisco Santa Ana Santa Clara Santa Monica Santa RosaStockton408-479-6136 916-885-5488 805-322-5881 916-895-9017 619-482-6391 707-995-3440 510-646-5377 707-464-2168 619-312-9818 707-445-9720 209-237-0660 408-847-0373 714-509-2990 619-453-9388 213-846-1710 213-892-1111 209-725-3800 209-521-6177 707-253-3210 510-893-4114 805-981-4633 619-864-1311 818-398-9031909-629-2247 916-241-8720 800-750-2353 916-263-6580 916-324-5068 415-267-6504 714-647-1172 408-482-2550 310-398-8883 707-524-1770 209-474-5089How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 66(California continued)Suisun Torrance Van Nuys Victorville Visalia WeedColorado707-864-3382 310-787-6466 818-373-7092 619-951-1592 209-625-3051 916-938-2658Colorado State University Department of Horticulture Fort Collins, CO 80523 303-491-7119Small Business Administration Denver 303-294-7186 Denver 303-844-3984Small Business Development CentersAlamosa Aurora Boulder Canon City Colorado Springs 719-471-4836719-589-7372 303-341-4849 303-442-1475 719-275-5335Craig Delta Denver Denver Durango Fort Collins Fort Morgan Glenwood Springs800-621-1647Grand Junction Greeley Lakewood Lamar Littleton Pueblo Stratton Trinidad WestminsterConnecticut970-243-5242 970-352-3661 303-987-0710 719-336-8141 303-795-5855 719-549-3224 719-348-5596 719-846-5645 303-460-1032970-824-7078 970-874-8772 303-892-3809 303-620-8076 970-247-7009 970-226-0881 970-867-3351University of Connecticut Department of Plant Science 1376 Storrs Road Storrs, CT 60268 203-486-3435(Connecticut continued) Small Business Administration Hartford 203-240-4700Small Business Development CentersBridgeport Danielson Groton Middletown New Haven Stamford Storrs Waterbury West Hartford WilliamanticDelaware203-330-4813 203-774-1133 203-449-1188 203-344-2158 203-787-6730 203-359-3220 203-486-4135 203-757-8937 203-241-4986 203-465-5349
  • 52. University of Delaware Department of Horticulture Townsend Hall Newark, DE 19717-1303 302-451-2506Small Business Administration Wilmington 302-573-6295Small Business Development CentersNewark Dover Georgetown302-831-1555 302-678-1555 302-856-1555District of ColumbiaSmall Business Administration Washington, DC 202-606-4000Small Business Development Centers Anacostia/Congress Hhts 202-561-4975 Ext. 3006Arlington, VA Columbia Hts Deanwood Fairfax, VA Howard Univ Landover, MD Langley Pk, MD Rockville, MDSterling, VA Wheaton, MD703-993-8128 202-483-4986 202-396-1200 703-277-7700 202-806-1550 301-883-6491 301-445-7324 301-217-2345 703-430-7221 301-942-7579How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 67FloridaUniversity of Florida Department of Ornamental Horticulture IFAS, 1545 Fifield, FL 32611 904-392-7935Small Business AdministrationCoral Gables Jacksonville Tampa305-536-5521 904-443-1900 813-228-2594Small Business Development CentersBoca Raton Dania Fort Lauderdale Fort MyersFort Walton Bch Fort Pierce Gainesville Jacksonville Lynn Haven Melbourne Miami407-362-5620 305-987-0100 305-771-6520 813-489-9200 904-863-6543 407-462-4756 904-377-5621 904-646-2476 904-271-1108 407-632-1111 Ext. 33201 305-348-2272 305-940-5790 305-237-1906Miami Miami Orlando 407-823-5554Pensacola Pensacola Sanford St. Petersburg Tallahassee Tampa TampaGeorgia904-444-2060 904-474-2908 407-328-4722 Ext. 3341 813-341-4414 904-599-3407 813-974-4371University of Georgia Department of Horticulture Athens, GA 30602 404-542-2340Small Business Administration Atlanta 404-347-2797 Atlanta 404-347-4749Small Business Development CentersAlbany Athens Athens Athens Atlanta Atlanta Augusta912-430-4303 706-542-6815 706-542-6756 706-542-7436 404-651-3550 404-220-0205 706-737-1790Brunswick Columbus Decatur Gainesville Macon Marietta Morrow Rome Savannah Statesboro V aldostaWarnerRobbinsHawaii912-264-7343 708-649-7433 404-378-8000 770-531-5681 912-751-6592 404-423-6450 404-961-3440 404-295-6326 912-356-2755 912-681-5194 912-245-3738 912-953-9356University of Hawaii Department of Horticulture Manoa, 3190 Maile Way Honolulu, HI 96822 808-948-8909Small Business Administration Honolulu 808-541-2990Small Business Development CentersHawaii: Hilo Oahu: Honolulu Maui: Kihei Kauai: LihueIdaho808-933-3515 808-522-8131 808-875-2402 808-246-1748University of Idaho Department of PSES Moscow ID 83843 208-885-6276Small Business Administration Boise 208-334-1696Small Business Development CentersBoise Boise Idaho Falls Lewiston Pocatello Post Falls Twin Falls208-385-3875 208-385-1640 208-523-1087 208-799-2465 208-232-4921 208-769-3296 208-733-9554Ext. 2450How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 68IllinoisUniversity of Illinois Department of Horticulture 1013 Plant Sciences Lab, 1201 S Dorner Urbana, IL 61801 217-333-2124Small Business Administration
  • 53. Chicago Chicago Springfield312-353-5000 312-353-4528 217-492-4416Small Business Development CentersAurora 708-892-3334 Carbondale 618-536-2424 Centralia 618-532-2049 Chicago 312-202-0600Chicago 312-523-4419 Chicago 312-814-6111 Chicago 312-733-2287 Chicago 312-384-2262 Chicago 312-421-3941 Chicago 312-252-5211 Chicago 312-588-5855 Chicago 312-853-3477Ext. 139Ext. 320 Ext. 211Ext. 335 Ext. 1321Ext. 246Crystal Lake Danville Decatur DixonEast Moline East St. Louis Edwardsville Elgin Evanston Glen Ellyn Godfrey Grayslake Harrisburg InaJoliet Kankakee Macomb Monmouth Oglesby Olney Palos Hills Peoria River Grove Rockford SpringfieldSpringfield Ullin University Park815-455-6098 217-442-7232 217-875-8284 815-288-5511 309-755-2200 618-583-2272 618-692-2929 708-888-7675 708-866-1817 708-942-2771 618-466-3411 708-223-3633 618-252-5001 618-437-5321 815-727-6544 815-933-0376 309-298-2211 309-734-4664 815-223-1740 618-395-3011 708-974-5468 309-677-2992 708-456-0300815-968-4087 217-524-5856 217-789-1017 618-634-9618 708-534-4929IndianaPurdue University, Department of Horticulture West Lafayette, IN 47907 317-1335Small Business Administration Indianapolis 317-226-7272Small Business Development CentersBatesville Bedford Bloomington Brookville Clinton Columbia City Columbus Connersville Corydon CrawfordsvilleDelphiElkhart Elwood Evansville Fort Wayne Frankfort Gary Greencastle Greensburg Hammond Hartford HuntingburgIndianapolis Indianapolis Jeffersonville Jeffersonville Kendallville Kokomo Lafayette LaPorte LawrenceburgLiberty Linton Madison Martinsville Merrilville Michigan City Mitchell Monticello Mt. Vernon Muncie NashvilleNew Albany North Vernon Paoli812-933-6110 812-275-4493 812-339-8937 317-647-3177 812-832-3844 219-248-8131 812-372-6480 317-825-8328 812-738-8811 317-654-5507 317-564-6692 219-522-5453 317-552-0180 812-425-7232 219-426-0040 317-654-5507 219-882-2000 317-653-4517 812-663-2832 219-853-6399 317-348-4944 812-683-4647 317-261-3030317-264-6871 812-288-6451 812-282-0456 219-347-1554 317-457-5301 317-742-2394 219-326-7232 812-537-0814 317-458-5976 812-847-4846 812-265-3127 317-342-8110 219-756-7232 219-874-9245 812-849-4441 219-583-6557 812-838-3639 317-284-8144 812-988-6647 812-945-2643 812-346-2339 812-723-4206How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 69(Indiana continued)Portland Richmond Rochester Rockville Rushville Salem Scottsburg Seymour South Bend South Bend Spencer219-726-9311 317-962-2887 219-223-6773 317-569-0226 317-932-2222 812-883-2283 812-752-3886 812-522-3681 219-234-0051 219-282-4350 812-829-3245St. Mary-of-the-Woods 812-535-5151Sullivan Tell City Terre Haute TiptonV alparaiso V evay Vincennes Wabash Washington West Lafayette WinchesterIowa812-268-4836 812-547-2385 812-237-7676 317-675-7300 219-477-5256 812-427-2533 812-885-5749 219-563-1168 812-254-5262 317-494-5858 317-584-3266Iowa State University Department of Horticulture 105 Horticulture Bldg. Ames, IA 50010 515-294-0029Small Business Administration Cedar Rapids 319-362-6405 Des Moines515-284-4422Small Business Development CentersAmes Ames Audubon Cedar Falls Council Bluffs Creston Davenport Des Moines DubuqueFort Dodge Iowa City Marion Mason City Ottumwa Sioux City Spencer WestBurlington800-373-7232 515-296-7828 712-563-2623 319-273-2696 712-325-3260 515-782-4161 319-322-4499 515-271-2655 319-588-3350 800-362-2793 319-335-3742 319-377-8256 515-421-4342 515-683-5127 800-352-4649 712-262-4213 800-828-7322KansasKansas State University Umberger Hall Manhattan, KS 55506 913-532-5820
  • 54. Small Business Administration Wichita 316-269-6616Small Business Development Centers Atchison 913-367-5340 Augusta 316-775-1124 Chanute 316-431-2820 Ext. 219Coffeyville Colby Concordia Emporia Fort Scott Garden City Hays Hutchinson Independence IolaKansas City Lawrence Liberal Manhattan Ottawa Overland Park Parsons PittsburgPratt Salina Topeka WichitaKentucky316-251-7700 913-462-3984 913-243-1435 316-342-7162 316-223-2700 316-276-9632 913-628-5340 316-665-4950 316-331-4100 316-365-5116 913-596-9660 913-843-8844 316-624-1951 913-532-5529 913-242-5200 913-469-3878 316-421-6700 316-235-4920 316-672-5641 913-826-2622 913-231-1010 316-689-3193Ext. 2130 Ext. 239Ext. 218Ext. 150 Ext. 5457 Ext. 38Ext. 1305N.University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture and Architectural Landscaping N318 Agricultural ScienceCenter Lexington, KY 40546 606-257-4721Small Business Administration Louisville 502-582-5971How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 70MaineUniversity of Maine Department of Horticulture 119 Deering Hall Orono, ME 04469 207-581-2949Small Business Administration Augusta 207-622-8378Small Business Development Centers Auburn 207-783-9186 Augusta 207-621-0245Bangor Bath Biddeford Caribou EastMillinocket Portland Portland Sanford WiscassetMaryland207-942-6389 207-443-9751 207-282-1567 207-498-8736 207-746-5338 207-780-4420 207-780-4949 207-324-0316 207-882-4340University of Maryland Department of Horticulture 2107 Holzapfel Hall University Park, MD 20742 301-454-8924Small Business Administration Baltimore 410-962-4392Small Business Development CentersAnnapolis Baltimore Baltimore Bel Air College Park Columbia Cumberland Elkton Frederick Glen BurnieHagerstown Landover Langley Park McHenry Rockville Salisbury410-224-4205 800-USE-SBDC 410-837-4141 410-893-3837 301-405-2144 410-313-6552 800-457-SBDC 410-392-0597 301-694-4647 410-766-1910 301-797-0327 301-883-6491 301-445-7324 301-387-6666 Ext. 180 301-217-2345 800-999-SBDC(Kentucky continued) Small Business Development Centers Ashland 606-329-8011Bowling Green Cumberland Elizabethtown Highland Hts Hopkinsville Lexington Lexington Louisville LouisvilleMorehead Murray Owensboro Pikeville SomersetLouisiana502-745-1905 606-589-4514 502-765-6737 606-572-6524 502-886-8666 606-257-7668 606-257-7666 502-452-8282 502-852-7854 606-783-2376 502-762-2856 502-926-8085 606-432-5848 606-678-5520Louisiana State University Department of Horticulture Knapp Hall Baton Rouge, LA 70803 504-388-2222Small Business Administration New Orleans504-589-6685 Shreveport 318-676-3196Small Business Development CentersAlexandria Baton Rouge Hammond Lafayette Lake Charles Monroe Monroe Monroe Natchitoches New OrleansNew Orleans New Orleans New Orleans Ruston Shreveport Thibodaux318-484-2123 504-922-0998 504-549-3831 318-262-5344 318-475-5529 318-342-5506 318-342-1215 318-342-1224 318-357-5611 504-286-5308 504-539-9292 504-568-8222 504-865-3474 318-257-3537 318-797-5144 504-448-4242How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 71(Maryland continued) Towson 410-832-5866 Waldorf 800-762-SBDCWestminster Wheaton Wye Mills410-857-8166 301-942-7579 410-822-5400Ext. 339Massachusetts
  • 55. University of Massachusetts Department of Plant and Soil Sciences French Hall Amherst, MA 01003 413-545-0895Small Business AdministrationBoston Boston Springfield617-565-8415 617-565-5590 413-785-0268Small Business Development CentersAmherst Boston Boston Chestnut Hill Fall River Salem Springfield WorcesterMichigan413-545-6301 617-287-7750 800-478-4133 617-552-4091 508-673-9783 508-741-6343 413-737-6712 617-793-7615Michigan State University Horticultural Department East Lansing, MI 48824 517-355-5178Small Business Administration Detroit 313-226-6075 Marquette 906-225-1108Small Business Development CentersAllendale Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Bad Axe Benton Harbor Big Rapids Boyne City Brighton616-892-4120 313-769-4110 313-930-0034 313-971-0277 517-269-6431 616-927-8179 616-592-3553 616-582-6482 810-227-3556(Michigan continued) Cadillac 616-775-9776Caro Detroit Detroit Detroit Detroit East Lansing Escanaba FlintGrand Haven Grand Rapids Grand Rapids Hart Highland Park Houghton Howell Jackson Kalamazoo LansingLapeer Marquette Midland MonroeMt. Clemens Mt. Pleasant Muskegon PontiacPort Huron Saginaw Saline Scottville Southgate Sterling Heights Traverse City Traverse City Traverse CityTraverse City TroyUniversity Cnter WarrenMinnesota517-673-2849 313-577-2788 313-577-4850 313-964-1798 313-993-1115 517-353-4336 906-786-9234 810-239-5847 616-846-3153 616-458-4783 616-771-0328 616-873-7141 313-222-2956 906-487-1245 517-546-4020 517-787-0442 616-337-7350 517-483-1921 810-667-0080 906-228-5571 517-839-9522 313-243-5947 810-469-5118517-774-3270 616-722-3751 810-858-0783 810-982-9511 517-754-8222 313-944-1016 616-845-6211 313-281-0700 810-731-5400 616-922-1717 616-929-5000 616-946-1596 616-947-5075 810-952-5800 517-790-4048 313-751-3939University of Minnesota Department of Horticulture Sciences and Landscape Architecture St. Paul, MN 55108 612-624-9703Small Business Administration Minneapolis 612-370-2324Small Business Development Centers Bemidji 218-755-4286How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 72(Minnesota continued)Bloomington Brainerd Duluth Grand Rapids Hibbing International Flls Mankato Marshall Minneapolis MinneapolisMoorhead Owatonna612-832-6560 218-828-5302 218-726-8758 218-327-2241 218-262-6703 218-285-2255 507-387-5643 507-537-7386 612-338-3280 612-962-4500 218-236-2289 507-451-0517 612-629-7340 612-550-7218 612-388-4079 507-285-7536 612-423-8262 507-864-7557 612-255-4842 612-297-5770Pine City Plymouth Red Wing Rochester Rosemount Rushford St. Cloud St. Paul Virginia 218-741-4251 Wadena218-631-1502 White Bear Lake 612-779-5764MississippiMississippi State University Department of Horticulture PO Drawer T Mississippi State, MS 39762 601-325-3223Small Business Administration Gulfport 601-863-4449 Jackson 601-965-4378Small Business Development CentersBooneville Cleveland Decatur Ellisville Gautier Greenville Gulfport Hattiesburg Itta Bena Jackson Long BeachLorman Meridian Mississippi St601-720-7448 601-846-4236 601-635-2111 601-477-4165 601-497-9595 601-378-8183 601-864-2961 601-544-0030 601-254-3601 601-968-2795 601-865-4578 601-877-6684 601-482-7445 601-325-8684(Mississippi continued)Natchez Raymond Ridgeland Southern Summit Tupelo University UniversityMissouri
  • 56. 601-445-5254 601-857-3536 601-853-0827 601-342-1570 601-276-3890 601-680-8515 601-232-5001 601-234-2120University of Missouri-Columbia Department of Horticulture 1-40 Agriculture Bldg. Columbia, MO 65211 314-882-7511Small Business AdministrationKansas City Kansas City Saint Louis Springfield816-374-6380 816-374-6708 314-539-6600 417-864-7670Small Business Development CentersCape Girardeau Chillicothe Columbia ColumbiaFlat River Jefferson City Joplin Kansas City Kirksville Maryville Poplar Bluff RollaRolla Saint Louis Springfield WarrensburgMontana314-290-5965 816-646-6920 314-882-7096 314-882-0344 314-431-4593 314-634-2824 417-625-9313 816-926-4572 816-785-4307 816-562-1701 314-686-3499 314-341-4561 314-341-4559 314-534-7232 417-836-5685 816-543-4402Ext. 283Cooperative Extension Service Taylor Hall Bozeman, MT 59717 406-994-3402Small Business Administration Helena 406-449-5381Small Business Development CentersHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 73(Montana continued)Billings Bozeman Butte Great Falls Havre Helena Kalispell Missoula SidneyNebraska406-256-6875 406-587-3113 406-782-7333 406-454-1934 406-265-9226 406-444-4780 406-756-3833 406-728-9234 406-482-5024University of Nebraska Department of Horticulture 377L Plant Science Bldg. Lincoln, NE 68538 402-472-1145Small Business Administration Omaha 402-221-4691Small Business Development CentersChadron Kearney Lincoln North Platte Omaha Omaha Omaha Peru ScottsbluffNevada308-432-6282 308-865-8344 402-472-3358 308-534-5115 402-554-2521 402-595-2381 402-595-3511 402-872-2274 308-635-7513University of Nevada Department of Plant Science Reno, NV 89557-0107 702-784-6911Small Business Administration Las Vegas 702-388-6611 Reno 702-784-5268Small Business Development CentersCarson City Elko Incline Village Las VegasLas Vegas North Las Vegas Reno Winnemucca702-882-1565 702-753-2245 702-831-4440 702-895-0852 702-896-4496 702-399-6300 702-784-1717 702-623-5777New HampshireUniversity of New Hampshire Department of Horticulture Nesmith Hall Durham, NH 03824 603-862-3207Small Business Administration Concord 603-225-1400Small Business Development Centers Deerfield 603-444-1053 Dover 603-749-4264 Durham 603-862-2200Keene Manchester Nashua PlymouthNew Jersey603-358-2602 603-624-2000 603-886-1233 603-535-2523Rutgers University Department of Horticulture and Forestry PO Box 231 Blake Hall Cook College New Brunswick,NJ 08903 201-932-8424Small Business Administration Camden 609-757-5183 Newark 201-645-2434Small Business Development Centers Atlantic City 609-345-5600 Camden 609-757-6221Lincroft Newark Paramus Trenton Union WashingtonNew Mexico908-842-1900 201-648-5950 201-447-7841 609-586-4800 908-527-2946 908-689-9620
  • 57. Ext. 469New Mexico State University 9301 Indian School Rd, NE Suite 101 Albuquerque, NM 87112 505-275-5231How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 74(New Mexico continued) Small Business Administration Albuquerque 505-766-1870Small Business Development CentersAlamogordo Albuquerque Albuquerque Carlsbad Clovis Espanola Farmington Gallup Grants HobbsLas Cruces Las Vegas Los Alamos Los Lunas Roswell Santa Fe Santa Fe Silver City TucumcariNew York505-434-5272 505-224-4246 505-248-0132 505-887-6562 505-769-4136 505-747-2236 505-326-4321 505-722-2220 505-287-8221 505-392-4510 505-527-7601 505-454-2595 505-662-0001 505-866-5348 505-624-7133 505-438-1343 505-438-1362 505-538-6320 505-461-4413Cornell University Department of Horticulture Ithaca, NY 14853 607-255-2166Small Business AdministrationBuffalo Elmira Melville New York New York Rochester Syracuse716-551-4301 607-734-8130 516-454-0750 212-264-1450 212-264-2454 716-263-6700 315-448-0423Small Business Development CentersAlbany Albany Binghamton Brockport Bronx Brooklyn Brooklyn Buffalo Canton Corning 607-962-9461 DobbsFerry 914-674-7485518-442-5577 800-732-SBDC 607-777-4024 716-637-6660 718-563-3570 718-260-9783 718-368-4619 716-878-4030 315-386-7312(New York continued)Farmingdale Fishkill Geneseo Geneva Hempstead Jamaica Jamestown Kingston New York New York Niagara FallsOswego Plattsburgh Riverhead Rochester Sanborn 716-693-1910Southampton Staten Island Stony Brook Suffern Syracuse TroyUtica Watertown White Plains516-287-0059 718-390-7645 516-632-9070 914-356-0370 315-492-3029 518-286-1014 315-792-7546 315-782-9262 914-644-4116North CarolinaNorth Carolina State University Department of Horticulture Science Kilgore Hall Raleigh, NC 27695919-737-3322Small Business Administration Charlotte 704-344-6563Small Business Development CentersBoone Chapel Hill Charlotte Cullowhee Elizabeth City Fayetteville Greensboro Greenville Hickory Raleigh RaleighWilmington Winston-Salem704-262-2492 919-962-0389 704-548-1090 704-227-7494 919-335-3247 910-486-1727 910-334-7005 919-328-6157 704-345-1110 800-2580-UNC 919-715-0520 910-395-3744 910-750-2030516-420-2765 914-897-2607 716-245-5429 315-781-1253 516-564-8672 718-262-2880 716-665-5754 914-339-1322 212-346-1900 212-802-6620 716-285-4793 315-343-1545 518-562-4260 516-369-1507 716-232-7310How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 75North DakotaNorth Dakota State University Department of Horticulture Box 5658 University StationFargo, ND 58105 701-237-8161Small Business Administration Fargo 701-239-5131Small Business Development CentersBismarck Dickinson Fargo701-223-8583 701-227-2096 701-237-0986(North Dakota continued)Grand Forks Grand Forks MinotOhio701-772-8502 701-777-3700 701-852-8861Ohio State University Department of Horticulture 241 Howlett Hall 2001 Fyffe Court Columbus, OH 43210 614-292-9784Small Business AdministrationCincinnati Cleveland Columbus513-684-2814 216-522-4180 614-469-6860
  • 58. Small Business Development CentersAkron Akron Athens Athens Bowling Green CantonCelina Cincinnati Cincinnati Cleveland Cleveland Columbus Columbus Dayton216-379-3170 216-535-9346 614-592-1188 614-593-1797 419-352-3817 216-499-9600 800-237-1477 513-753-7141 513-948-2082 216-432-5364 216-621-3300 614-225-6082 614-466-2711 513-226-8239(Ohio continued) Dayton Defiance Fremont Hillsboro JeffersonKent Kettering Lima Lorain Mansfield Marietta Marion Mentor New Philadelph OxfordPiqua Portsmouth Southpoint Springfield Steubenville Toledo Youngstown ZanesvilleOklahoma513-873-3503 419-784-3777 419-332-1002 513-393-9599 216-576-9134 216-672-2750 513-259-1361 419-229-5320 216-233-6500 800-366-7232 614-376-4832 614-387-0188 216-951-1290 216-339-3391 513-529-4841 800-589-6963 614-355-2471 614-894-3838 513-322-7821 614-282-6226 419-243-8191 216-742-3495 614-452-4868Ext. 279Oklahoma State University Department of Horticulture Stillwater, OK 74078 405-624-5414Small Business Administration Oklahoma City 405-231-5521Small Business Development CentersAda Alva Durant Durant Enid Langston Lawton Miami Midwest City Oklahoma City Poteau Tahlequah TulsaWeatherford405-436-3190 405-327-8608 405-924-0277 800-522-6154 405-242-7989 405-466-3256 405-248-4946 918-540-0575 405-733-7348 405-232-1968 918-647-4019 918-458-0802 918-581-2502 405-774-1040How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 76OregonOregon State University Department of Horticulture Corvallis, OR 97331 503-754-3464Small Business Administration Portland 503-326-2682Small Business Development Centers Albany 503-917-4923 Ashland 503-482-5838Bend Coos Bay Eugene Eugene Grants Pass Gresham Klamath Falls LaGrande Lincoln City Medford MilwaukeeOntario Pendleton Portland Portland Roseburg Salem Seaside The Dalles TillamookPennsylvania503-383-7290 503-269-0123 503-726-2250 503-726-2255 503-471-3515 503-667-7658 503-885-1760 503-962-3391 503-994-4166 503-772-3478 503-656-4447 503-889-2617 503-276-6233 503-274-7482 503-414-2828 503-672-2535 503-399-5181 503-738-3347 503-298-3118 503-842-2551Pennsylvania State University Department of Horticulture 102 Tyson Bldg., University Park, PA 16802 814-865-6596Small Business AdministrationHarrisburg King of Prussia King of Prussia Pittsburgh Wilkes-Barre717-782-3840 610-962-3700 610-962-3800 412-644-2780 717-826-6497Small Business Development CentersBethlehem Clarion Erie610-758-3980 814-226-2060 814-871-7714(Pennsylvania continued)Harrisburg Latrobe Lewisburg Loretto Philadelphia Philadelphia Philadelphia Philadelphia Pittsburgh PittsburghScranton Wilkes-BarrePuerto Rico717-720-4230 412-537-4572 717-524-1249 814-472-3200 215-204-7282 215-898-1219 215-898-4861 215-951-1416 412-396-6233 412-648-1544 717-941-7588 717-831-4340University of Puerto Rico Department of Horticulture Mayaque Campus Puerto Rico 00708 809-832-4040Rhode IslandUniversity of Rhode Island Department of Plant Sciences Kingston, RI 02881 401-792-2791Small Business Administration Providence 401-528-4561Small Business Development CentersNarragansett Newport North Kingstown Providence Providence Providence Smithfield Smithfield401-783-2466 401-849-6900 401-294-1227 401-277-4576 401-831-1330 401-455-6042 401-232-6111 401-232-6407South Carolina
  • 59. Clemson University Department of Horticulture Clemson, SC 29634 808-656-2603Small Business Administration Columbia 803-765-5377Small Business Development Centers Aiken 803-641-3646How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 77(South Carolina continued)Beaufort Charleston Clemson Columbia Columbia Conway Florence Greenville Greenwood Hilton HeadOrangeburg Rock Hill SpartanburgSouth Dakota803-521-4143 803-727-2020 803-656-3227 803-777-4907 803-777-5118 803-349-2170 803-661-8256 803-239-3753 803-941-8071 803-785-3995 803-536-8445 803-323-2283 803-594-5080South Dakota State University Department of Horticulture Brookings, SD 57007 605-688-5136Small Business Administration Sioux Falls 605-330-4231Small Business Development CentersAberdeen Pierre Rapid City V ermillionTennessee605-626-2252 605-773-5941 605-394-5311 605-367-5757University of Tennessee Department of Ornamental Horticulture Box 1071 Knoxville, TN 37901 615-974-7324Small Business Administration Nashville 615-736-5881Small Business Development CentersChattanooga Chattanooga Clarksville Cleveland Columbia615-266-5781 615-697-4410 Ext. 505 615-648-7764 615-478-6247 615-388-5674(Tennessee continued)Cookeville Dyersburg Hartsville Jackson Jackson Johnson City Kingsport Knoxville Knoxville Memphis MemphisMemphis Morristown Murfreesboro NashvilleTexas615-372-6634 901-286-3201 615-374-9521 901-424-5389 901-425-3326 615-929-5630 615-392-8017 615-525-0277 615-637-4283 901-527-1041 901-678-2500 901-678-4174 615-585-2675 615-898-2745 615-963-7179Texas A & M University Department of Horticulture College Station, TX 77843 409-845-5341Small Business Administration Austin 512-482-5288 Corpus Christi 512-888-3331 Dallas 214-767-7633ElPaso 915-540-5676 Fort Worth 817-885-6500 Harlingen 210-427-8533 Houston 713-733-6500 Lubbock806-743-7462 Marshall903-935-5257 San Antonio 210-229-5900Small Business Development CentersAbilene Alpine Alvin Amarillo Athens Austin Baytown Beaumont Bonham Brenham Bryan College Station CorpusChristi Corsicana915-670-0300 915-837-8694 713-388-4686 806-372-5151 800-335-7232 512-473-3510 713-425-6309 409-880-2367 903-583-4811 409-830-4137 409-260-5222 800-472-6785 512-881-1888 800-320-7232How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 78(Texas continued)Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Dallas Denison Denton Duncanville Edinburg214-565-5850 800-337-7232 800-348-7232 800-350-7232 800-355-7232 800-316-7232 817-380-1849 800-317-7232 210-381-3361 915-534-3410 817-794-5900 817-244-7158 800-351-7232 409-740-7380 713-591-9320 713-752-8400 800-252-7232 409-294-3737 512-595-5088 409-266-3380 210-722-0563 800-338-7232 806-745-3973806-745-1637 409-639-1887 214-775-4336 800-357-7232 915-552-2455 903-784-1802 214-985-3770 915-942-2098 210-558-2450 210-558-2458 210-558-2460 210-558-2470 713-499-4870 817-968-9330 800-246-SBDC 903-510-2975 210-278-2527El Paso Fort Worth Fort Worth Gainesville Galveston Houston Houston Houston Huntsville Kingsville LakeJackson Laredo Longview Lubbock Lubbock Lufkin Midlothian Mt. Pleasant Odessa Paris Plano San Angelo SanAntonio San Antonio San Antonio San Antonio Stafford Stephenville Texas City Tyler Uvalde Victoria 512-575-8944Waco Wharton Wichita FallsUtah800-349-7232 409-532-0604 817-689-4373Utah State University Department of Horticulture Logan, UT 84322-4820 801-750-2258(Utah continued) Small Business Administration Salt Lake City 801-524-5804Small Business Development Centers
  • 60. Cedar City Ephraim Logan Ogden Orem Price Roosevelt Salt Lake City St. GeorgeVermont801-586-5400 801-283-4021 801-797-2277 801-626-7232 801-222-8230 801-637-1995 801-722-4523 801-581-7905 801-673-4811Ext. 353University of Vermont Plant and Soil Science Department Hills Bldg. Burlington, VT 05405 802-656-2630Small Business Administration Montpelier 802-828-4422Small Business Development CentersBennington Brattleboro Burlington Hero Middlebury Montpelier Morrisville Randolph Cntr Rutland SpringfieldSt. Albans St. Johnsbury White River JncVirginia802-442-8975 802-257-7731 802-658-9228 802-372-5683 802-388-7953 802-223-4654 802-888-5640 800-464-SBDC 802-773-9147 802-885-2071 802-524-2194 802-748-1014 802-295-3710Virginia Polytechnic and State University, Department of Horticulture 301 Saunders Hall Blacksburg, VA 24061703-961-5451How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 79(Virginina continued) Small Business Administration Richmond 804-771-2400Small Business Development CentersAbingdon Arlington Big Stone Gap Blacksburg Blacksburg Charlottesville Fairfax Farmville FredericksburgHampton Harrisonburg Lynchburg Manassas Middletown Norfolk Richlands Richmond Richmond RichmondRoanoke South Boston Sterling Warsaw WythevilleWashington800-468-1195 Ext. 4798 703-993-8128 703-523-6529 703-231-4004 703-231-5278 804-295-8198 703-993-2130804-395-2086 703-899-4076 804-825-2957 703-568-3227 800-876-7232 703-335-2500 703-869-6649 804-622-6414 703-964-7345 804-371-8253 800-646-SBDC 804-648-7113 703-983-0717 804-575-0444 703-430-7222 804-333-0286 800-468-1195 Ext. 4798Washington State University Department of Horticulture Pullman, WA 99164-6414 509-335-9502Small Business AdministrationSeattle Seattle Spokane206-553-5676 206-553-7320 509-353-2801Small Business Development CentersAberdeen Bellevue Bellingham Centralia Kennewick Lynwood360-538-4021 206-643-2888 360-650-3899 360-736-9391 509-735-6222 206-640-1435(Washington continued)Moses Lake Mt. Vernon Okanogan Olympia Olympia Port Angeles Pullman Seattle Seattle Seattle Spokane TacomaV ancouver Walla Walla Wenatchee YakimaWest Virginia509-762-6289 360-428-1282 509-826-5107 360-586-4854 360-753-5616 360-457-7793 509-335-1576 206-464-5450 206-553-0052 206-764-5375 509-358-2051 206-272-7232 360-693-2555 509-527-4681 509-662-8016 509-454-3608Cooperative Extension Service West Virginia University PO Box 6031, 817 Knapp Hall Morgantown, WV 26506-6031 304-293-5691Small Business Administration Charleston 304-347-5220 Clarksburg 304-623-5631Small Business Development CentersCharleston Beckley Elkins Fairmont Huntington Montgomery Morgantown Parkersburg Shepherdstown WheelingWisconsin304-558-2960 304-255-4022 304-637-7205 304-367-4125 304-696-6789 304-442-5501 304-293-5839 304-424-8277 304-876-5261 304-233-5900Ext. 206University of Wisconsin Department of Horticulture 1575 Linden Dr Madison, WI 53706 608-262-1450How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 80(Wisconsin continued) Small Business Administration Madison 608-264-5261 Milwaukee 414-297-3941Small Business Development CentersEau Claire Green Bay Kenosha La Crosse Madison Madison Milwaukee Oshkosh Stevens Point SuperiorWhitewater Whitewater
  • 61. Wyoming715-836-5811 414-465-2089 414-595-2189 608-785-8782 608-263-2221 608-263-7794 414-227-3240 414-424-1453 715-346-2004 715-394-8352 414-472-3217 414-472-1365University of Wyoming Box 3354 University Station Laramie, WY 82071 307-766-2243Small Business Administration Casper 307-261-5761Small Business Development CentersCasper Cheyenne Laramie Powell Rock Springs800-348-5207 800-348-5208 800-348-5194 800-348-5203 800-348-5205Other Information SourcesFollowing are a few other sources for information that may be helpful:SBA• Loan Assistance Office of Business Loans from the SBA 1441 L St NW, Room 804DWashington, DC 20416SBA• small business management, marketing and financingPublications Department SBA 1441 L St NW, Room 804D Washington, DC 20416S.C.O.R.E., the Service Corps of Retired Executives • volunteer their services to help smallbusiness solve problems SCORE Management Assistance SBA 1441 L St NW, Room 804DWashington, DC 20416Small Business Development Centers• individual counseling and training Small Business Development Center ManagementAssistance, SBA 1441 L St NW, Room 804D Washington, DC 20416How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 81Small Business Institute• extensive business counseling through universities and colleges for small businessownersSmall Business Institute management Assistance, SBA 1441 L St NW, Room 804D Washington,DC 20416USDA Marketing Research• marketing information on almost any cropMarketing Research and Development Division USDA AMSRoom 130 Bldg. 307-BARC-E, Beltsville, MD 20705USDA Agricultural Research Service• research staff involved in areas such as crop production, plant nutrition, plant geneticsAgricultural Research Service USDA, Room 302-a Administration Bldg. Washington, DC 20250USDA National Agricultural Library• team of researchers available for specific questionsNational Agricultural Library 10301 Baltimore Blvd Beltsville, MD 20705USDA Research Specialists• to get you specific answers to your questions, or steer you to someone who can helpInformation Office Office of Public USDA Room 230 E Washington, DC 20250How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 82UK SOURCES:Welsh Government Sustainable Agriculture: email:
  • 62. Telephone: 1 English: 0300 0603300 or 0845 010 3300 2 Welsh: 0300 0604400 or 0845 010 4400 3 International enquiry number: (+44) 1443 845500Monday to Friday, 8:30am – 5:30pmUK Department for Rural Affairs: Website: Forms and Charts:• Invoice • Purchase Order • Expense Report • Employee Time Sheet • Fax Form • Greenhouse DailyReport • Greenhouse Row Chart • Hydroponic Formula MixingLog • Seeding Chart • Weekly Greenhouse ChoresSchedule • Daily Site ReportHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business83Invoice #: Date: Customer ID:Bill To: Ship To:Your #Our #Sales RepFOBSHIP VIATermsTax ID
  • 63. Qty Item Units Description Dsc % T Unit Pr TotalRemittanceCustomer ID: Statement #: Date: Vendor ID: Amount Due: Amount Enclosed:Subtotal Tax Freight Misc Bal DueHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business84Bill To: Ship To:PO #: Date: Customer ID:TermsReq BySHIP VIAFOBBuyerTax IDQty Item Units Description Dsc % T Unit Pr TotalSubtotal Tax Freight Misc Bal DueHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 85Employee: Department: Date:Purpose: From: To:Date Description Trans Lodging Meals Other TotalTotalsSignatureDate: Date:How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 86Employee Name:Work Phone:Address:Home Phone:Tax ID #:DateHoursVacationSickHourly RateOvertime RateTotalTotalSignatureAccount # Date Employee ID #Date:Date:How To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 87From:To:Date: Number of Pages:Remarks:Greenhouse Daily ReportHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 88 Date: _____________________________Total Volume Fed: Temperature Fed: Source EC: Source PH:HIGHEST BAG EC / PH Row 1 EC_______________ Row 2 EC_______________ Row 3 EC_______________Row 4 EC_______________ Row 5 EC_______________ Row 6 EC_______________ Row 7EC_______________ Row 8 EC_______________Greenhouse 1___________________ Greenhouse 2____________________ Greenhouse1____________________ Greenhouse 2_____________________ Greenhouse 1____________________Greenhouse 2_____________________ Greenhouse 1____________________ Greenhouse2_____________________PH_________________ PH_________________ PH_________________ PH_________________PH_________________ PH_________________ PH_________________ PH_________________
  • 64. Bag Temperature Greenhouse 1____________________ Greenhouse 2_____________________ InsectsObserved:________________________________________________________________________Overall status (1-10) Greenhouse 1____________________ Greenhouse 2_____________________ (10 isgreat, 1 is dead)Primary focus of the day:__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Humidity: Greenhouse 1: Greenhouse 2:Temperature: Greenhouse 1: Greenhouse 2:Low____________________ Low____________________Low____________________ Low____________________High_________________ High__________________High_________________ High_______________________ Cooling Walls _____ Irrigation pump _____ Other pump motors _____ Outside temperature _____ Propanetank # 1 (level) _____ Propane tank # 2 (level) _____ Check and clean Insect screensWalk Around: _____ Clean Up and Wipe Down _____ Check for water leaks _____ Filters-Check and clean _____Fan Belts _____ Faucets _____ Building inflation _____ Nutrient Injectors/DosersHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 89 How To Start and Succeed in theHydroponics Business 89Greenhouse Row ChartRow # Date: S EC S PH Bag Bag Bag# EC PHBag Bag # ECBag Temp Temp PH Vol Min% H MaxPolSuc- kerCPClpLPL&L Lbs CommentsFedMaxMinHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business90Hydroponic Formula - Mixing LogDate DateDate DateTank # 1Calcium Nitrate Potassium Nitrate Iron ChelateWaterTank # 2Potassium Nitrate Potassium Phosphate Magnesium Sulfate Potassium SulfateWinterWinterSummerStarterSummerStarterTrace Elements with Vita LinkWater lHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business91
  • 65. Seeding Chartvariety Seed date Germination dateTransplant dateDate, day, time EC pH tempHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 92Weekly Greenhouse Chores ScheduleGreenhouse 1—870 tomato plants Greenhouse 2—7200 lettuce plant sites,4560 nursery sites7:00 – 9:00 AMMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMorning Tests Mix Nutrient if neededMix Nutrient if needed9:00 – 11:00 amSeed lettuce Other ProjectsCluster and Sucker Prune TomatoesSeed lettuce Other ProjectsCluster and Sucker Prune TomatoesSeed lettuce Other ProjectsCluster and Sucker Prune Tomatoes11:00 – 12:00 Transplant lettuceClean Greenhouse 1Transplant lettuceClean Greenhouse 2Transplant lettucePick and Pack TomatoesBreak12:30 – 2:00Pollinate Tomatoes- Plan weeks projectsPollinate Tomatoes Leaf Prune TomatoesPollinate Tomatoes- Clip and Leaf Prune TomatoesPollinate Tomatoes- Clip and Leaf Prune TomatoesPollinate Tomatoes- Clip and Leaf Prune TomatoesPollinate Tomatoes2:00 – 4:00 Harvest and pack lettucePick and Pack Tomatoes Lean & Lower TomatoesHarvest and pack lettucePick and Pack Tomatoes Lean & Lower TomatoesHarvest and pack lettucePick and Pack TomatoesMonTue Wed Thu Fri Sat SunHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 93Daily Site Report Crop Type______________________ Number ofPlants:___________________________
  • 66. Date Time Nutrient CF or EC Nutrient pH Nutrient Temp- Min/Max Air Temp—Min/Max Humidity—Min/Max Water Use—GPD Nutrient Use-GPD Nutrient Mixed Acid Mixed Phos/Nitric Climate Sunny/CloudySpray Type of Spray What with How much Time of Day Tank Flush Time of Day Incoming Water Temp Analysis sample # of lettuceharvestedComments:Sun Mon Tues Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri SatHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 94NotesHow To Start and Succeed in the Hydroponics Business 95Notes