Using Hydroponics for Winter Produce

July 17, 2014 - 12:57

Growers are constantly searching for ways to increase profits in the off season. While some popular potted crops have traditionally been an easy way to utiize greenhouse space during the winter, there doesn't seem to be an increased demand for these products. There is, however, a great demand for produce year round.

Researchers at the NH Agricultural Experiment Station (NHAES) at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture have launched a hydroponics project that will investigate options for farmers who are trying to meet this increasing demand for locally grown fresh produce during winter.

According to Brian Krug, NHAES researcher and UNH Cooperative Extension Specialist, "Most of the greenhouses in New Hampshire are seasonal so there is a lot of greenhouse space that goes largely unused between October and February." This creates a great opportunity for growers to increase their profits during this down time.

To support growers in their areas to be more successful with hydroponics production, Krug and colleagues at the University of Arkansas and Iowa State University are investigated small-scale hydroponics systems that can generate extra revenue during the winter months.

"Growers see the demand from the consumer," said Krug. "Growers have the knowledge, ability and facilities to grow plants at that time of the year, but the facilities are not being used."

Earlier this year, Krug conducted preliminary feasability tests of a UNH hydroponics system. He and other researchers will evaluate the system to learn which plants grow well in hydroponics systems as well as the nutrients required and what cost to expect for the systems.

It will be interesting to learn the researchers' findings and how growers can benefit from using hydroponics systems in the off season. Stay tuned!

— Jasmina

 

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