Using Hydroponics for Food Production

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Using Hydroponics for Food Production

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Using Hydroponics for Food Production

  1. 1. Using Hydroponics for Food Production
  2. 2. History of Hydroponics • Hanging gardens of Babylon • Aztec floating gardens • World War II-hydroponics in western Pacific • Plastics changed everything! • Boom in 1990’s – Space program – Growing in deserts – Vertical farming – Large scale production
  3. 3. Advantages •Crops can be grown where soil is unsuitable •Reduced plant disease •More control •Bigger yields Disadvantages •Initial costs higher •Deeper knowledge is needed •If introduced, diseases can easily spread •Needs more attention
  4. 4. The basics • Growing substrates • Nutrient solution • System designs
  5. 5. Growing Substrates • What makes a good media? – Provides support – Good pore size – Does not clog system – Does not affect nutrient solution Photo: /www.aquaponicsusa.com
  6. 6. Growing Substrates • Rockwool • Expanded clay pellets • Coconut fiber • Growstones • Oasis cubes • Pea Gravel • Coarse Sand • Sawdust • Perlite • Vermiculite • Peat moss
  7. 7. Rockwool • Widely used • High-water holding capacity • Good aeration • Needs a pre-soak to lower pH • Irritant when dry • Not recyclable, not reusable Photo: grodan101.com
  8. 8. Expanded Clay • Hydroton/Grow Rocks • Can be reused (wash and sterlize) • Inert • Free-draining • May get too dry for ebb & flow systems • Not good for starting seed Photo: /www.aquaponicsusa.com
  9. 9. Coconut Fibers (Coir) • Many different sizes • Good water holding capacity • Different grades – Salt concern? Photo: www.kalyx.com/store/images/images_J/J_713170.jpg
  10. 10. Grow Stones • 99% recycled glass • Similar to lava rock • Not good for starting seeds • Not compostable, reusable with sterilization Photo: www.hidhut.com
  11. 11. Oasis ‘Horticubes’ • Similar to florist foam • Non-reactive in nutrient solution • Can crumble • Not compostable, not reusable • Good for seed starting Photo: www.gchydro.com
  12. 12. Rapid Rooters • Tree bark/compost based • Some crumbling • Good for seed starting • Usually need additional support Photo: bestbudsgreenhousesupplies.com
  13. 13. Not recommended • Jiffy Pots pellets – Peat based – Can break down and clog up system • Transplants from soilless mediums – Disease concerns – Organic matter in tank Photo: www.autopot.com.au
  14. 14. Photos: www.jasons-indoor-guide-to-organic-and-hydroponics-gardening.com onpointhydroponics.com
  15. 15. Nutrient Solutions 1. Make your own 2. Conventional solutions • Liquid or powder 3. Organic solutions – Aquaponics – Compost tea – Premixed solutions Photos: www.amazon.com
  16. 16. Base Nutrients Macro Nutrients – Nitrogen - (N) is primary to foliage plant growth. – Phosphorus - (P) Phosphorus helps build strong roots and is vital for flower and seed production. – Potassium (K) - Potassium increases chlorophyll in foliage and helps regulate stomata openings so plants make better use of light and air Secondary Nutrients – Magnesium (Mg), Calcium (Ca) Trace Elements – Sulphur (S), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mg), Zinc (Z), Copper (C), Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mn)
  17. 17. Options, options, options!!! • Some solutions are complete • Some are two part (Ca & Mg separate) • Some require additional purchase of micronutrients • Formulas for vegetative growth, flowering, and fruiting. – Depends on what you’re growing • Check labels – Usually can’t premix
  18. 18. Additives • Mycorrhizal fungi • Carbohydrates • Single nutrient solutions (K alone) • Flower boosters • Silicates • Root healers • Flushes/clearing solutions
  19. 19. Types of Systems • Basic wick • Non-circulating raft system or deep water • Top feed/Drip • NFT (nutrient film technique) • Ebb and Flow • Aeroponics • Aquaponics
  20. 20. Basic Wick • Very basic • “Self-watering” • Many options: from pop bottles to 5 gallon buckets and beyond
  21. 21. The EarthTainertm • Instructions online • http://earthtainer.tomatofest.com/
  22. 22. Raft Systems Photo: Geoff Wilson, Aquaponics Network Australia
  23. 23. Small-scale raft culture Photo: urbangardenmagazine.com
  24. 24. Top Feed/Drip Systems Photo: www.hydroponics.net • Rings or standard emitters • Pumps nutrients to top of pot
  25. 25. Top Feed/Drip System Photo: www.gchydro.com
  26. 26. NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) Figure: www.diy-guides.com
  27. 27. Photo: Crop King
  28. 28. Photo: Crop King
  29. 29. Ebb and Flow Photos: www.gchydro.com www.hydroponics-simplified.com
  30. 30. Ebb and Flow Photo: www.hydroponics.net
  31. 31. Vertical growing Photo: http://www.valcent.net/i/photos/VertiCrop-020909-001.jpg
  32. 32. Aeroponics Photo: www.aeroponicdesign.com
  33. 33. Managing the nutrient solution • pH • EC • Oxygen • Temperature
  34. 34. pH • Measure of how acidic or basic the nutrient solution is • 0 (acidic) to 14 (basic) • Most plants prefer 5.8-6.5 • Can change over time • Affects nutrient uptake
  35. 35. Managing pH Photo: www.dynamicaqua.com www.generalhydroponics.com/ www. vpmt.com • Check daily-especially when first setting up or changing nutrients
  36. 36. What is EC? • EC=Electrical Conductivity • General idea of soluble salts • Can’t tell you the individual N-P-K • Always check the unit being measured Photo: www.nehydro.net
  37. 37. What about TDS and PPM? • TDS=Total Dissolved Solids • PPM= Parts Per Million • Difficult to convert to EC • Fallen out of favor
  38. 38. Dissolved Oxygen • Very important! • Use aquarium bubbler for non- recirculating system • Use high density airstone Photo: www.hydroponics-at-home.com/
  39. 39. Temperature • Optimum depends on crop • Check air and nutrient solution temperature • Water chillers and heaters can be used
  40. 40. What about light? • Natural Light: Greenhouse • Artificial Light: Supplemental lighting
  41. 41. Supplemental Lights • Fluorescent (T5 most efficient) – ‘shop lights’, low cost • High-pressure sodium – Best for flowering, $$$ • Metal halide – Best all-around/vegetative, $$$ • LED – Low energy use, research?
  42. 42. Carbon Dioxide Enrichment? • Commercial growers • Increases yields by 20% • Natural gas • $$$ Photo: www.hydro-gardens.com
  43. 43. What beginners don’t need • Odor control systems • Grow cabinets • Cloning system • Plant stimulants, additives, bud boosters, etc • Light rails/tracks Keep it simple!
  44. 44. When do I replace the nutrient solution? • Many options: – Top off with plain water or nutrient solution • Full replacement depends on the crop: – 7-10 days if high use/fruiting crop – 2+ months if low use (lettuce or herbs)
  45. 45. Waste Nutrient Solution? • The problem: High nitrates & phosphates • Avoid runoff to surface water! • Options: – Send down sewer to waste water treatment plant – Apply to houseplants and garden plots – Commercial operations • Recycle water • Constructed wetland remediation system
  46. 46. What can you grow?
  47. 47. Lettuce Photo: www.treehugger.com
  48. 48. Lettuce • Good for beginners • 30-85 days to maturity- depending on variety • Sequential plantings to ensure continuous supply Photo: images.plant-care.com
  49. 49. Lettuce Varieties • Bibb: Deci-minor, Ostinata, Cortina, Rex, Salina, Milou, Vegas, Cortina • Looseleaf: Domineer, Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids, Waldmann’s Dark Green • Head/Iceberg: Great Lakes 659, Montemar • Romaine: Valmaine Cos, Cimmaron, Parris Island Cos (From: Hydroponic Food Production, H.M. Resh)
  50. 50. Tomatoes • Pollination required • Indeterminates can produce for months • Trellising required
  51. 51. Tomato Varieties • Beefsteak: Dombito, Caruso, Larma, Perfecto, Belmondo, Trend, Trust, Apollo, Match, Blitz, Quest, Laura • Cherry: Favorita, Conchita • TOV (tomato on the vine): Tradiro, Ambiance, Balance, Cronos (From: Hydroponic Food Production, H.M. Resh)
  52. 52. Cucumbers • European/English • Doesn’t require pollination • Trellising required Photo: grodan.com
  53. 53. European Cucumber Varieties • Varieties: Toska 70, Pandex, Uniflora D, Corona, Farona, Marillo, Fidelio, Bronco, Mustang, Exacta, Ventura 1289, Jessica, Optima, Flamingo, Dominica, Accolade, Discover, Milligon (From: Hydroponic Food Production, H.M. Resh)
  54. 54. Bell Peppers • Trellising required • Can be difficult to grow and manage nutrient solution • 20+ peppers off single plant Photo: grodans.com
  55. 55. Bell Pepper Varieties • Red: Delphin, Plutona, Tango, Cubico, Mazurka, Val Valeta • Yellow: Luteus, Goldstar, Samantha, Gold Flame, Kelvin • Orange: Wonder, Eagle, Narobi, Fellini • Purple: Violetta (From: Hydroponic Food Production, H.M. Resh)
  56. 56. Basil • Easy to grow • All varieties do well • Pinch back to encourage branching • Will last many months Photo: green-change.com
  57. 57. Other plants • Oregano • Thyme • Mint • Strawberries • Watercress – Easy to grow Photo: www.gourmetsleuth.com/images/watercress.jpg
  58. 58. Desktop Hydroponics • Raft System: Handout from Urban Garden Magazine • Cooler setup on display • Start with lettuce, basil or other vegetative crop Photo: urbangardenmagazine.com
  59. 59. April 30th
  60. 60. May 17th
  61. 61. Inputs/Outputs • Transplants/seed* • Nutrient solution* • pH up/down * • Coconut coir* • Cooler • Tubing • Airstone & pump • Garbage bag • Duct tape • Lights • Harvest as of July 8th • 7 clamshells of basil from two plants • $28 value • Will add two additional plants to system
  62. 62. July 8th 7 harvests in ~2.5 months!

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