Jasmina Dolce is managing editor of GPN magazine. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847.391.1004.
Using Hydroponics for Winter Produce
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!
Due to the popularity of CropKing's two-day grower workshop, additional dates and locations have been added to include: Aug. 21-22 in Lodi, Ohio; Sept. 19-20 in Madras, Oregon; and Oct. 10-11 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. These grower workshops train participants on the technical side of hydroponic growing with hands-on experience. Covering subjects from plant biology and greenhouse structure to plant nutrition and nutrient mixing, the workshops cater to growers of all levels. The cost of the workshop is $595 for two people; additional third and fourth person can be added to $250 each. The price includes lunch on both days, a comprehensive workbook and a discount towards the CropKing Technical Support package. For further information, visit www.cropking.com.
Ed Horton, president and CEO of Urban Produce LLC, recently announced that Urban Produce will be opening its first patented high-density growing system, where they will begin growing USDA organic leafy greens. Urban Produce will be growing all types of live and cut produce, from 28 varieties of microgreens, a variety of basil, bok choy, wheatgrass, strawberries, mint and herbs for major retailers, food services and culinary chefs. The High-Density Vertical Growing System has been developed as a sustainable alternative to traditional agriculture, utilizing advanced hydroponic technologies in a controlled environment. "Our patented growing technology allows us to grow the equivalent of 16 acres of produce on just a one-eighth acre footprint, all while reducing water usage by 90 percent," said Horton.
Scheduled to be complete this fall, OrganicWorld is constructing the largest organic hydroponic greenhouse project in Florida. OrganicaWorld is a world leader of organic greenhouse growing and technology. The project is taking place in Groveland, Florida. The 440,000-square-foot greenhouses are engineered with custom growing systems that will hydroponically grow a wide variety of organic vegetables, fruits, herbs and nutraceuticals.