The question of how does a greenhouse work when used with hydroponics has intrigued me ever since I started seeing more and more Greenhouses make the move to hydroponics.
- What are the problems that you might have by using hydroponics and Green houses together?
- Is it safe to do so?
- I heard it is more labor intensive than green houses using natural soil farming practices
- What about maintaining organic or natural certification?
I am attaching some information from the University Florida about Greenhouse Hydroponics here:
You can also go to http://smallfarms.ifas.ufl.edu/crops/hydroponics/overview.html and read it directly.
The Florida greenhouse vegetable industry in 2004 was comprised of approximately 80 acres of crop production. Several vegetable and herb crops are grown in these Florida greenhouses. A few greenhouse vegetable operations are considered large with more than one acre under cover. However, most greenhouse vegetable growers in Florida are small farmers with one or two greenhouse bays (one bay is about one-tenth of an acre). In a recent UF/IFAS survey, over 80% of the greenhouse hydroponic grower operations have 0.3 acres (three bays) or less. However, the large grower operations with one or more acres represent over 80% of the total acreage in greenhouse hydroponic production.
The primary crops grown include: pepper, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, herbs, and strawberry. The industry in Florida has changed from primarily either tomato or cucumber in the early 1990s to the diversity of today. A variety of structure types are used, as well. Structures include both fan and pad or naturally ventilated systems. Both are successfully used in the state depending on cropping intentions.
Several hydroponic production systems are also used, including soilless bag culture, rockwool, upright pots, beto buckets, nutrient film technique, floating systems, vertical stacking pots, troughs, gravel culture, and others.
Small farmers use direct marketing methods to sell their crops by selling retail at the farm, at farmers markets, roadside stands, other small produce stores, grocery chains, or other wholesale outlets. It has been the success of a marketing plan that has usually separated successful from unsuccessful greenhouse growers.
The initial investment in a standard new single bay greenhouse for vegetables can vary from $18,000 – $30,000. Most growers estimate they will have invested an additional $5,000 – $10,000 to build the structure, install the production system, and provide electrical connections.
The production of high quality hydroponic vegetables is also an intensive time commitment. It is difficult and risky to leave the greenhouse for short or long periods of time due to the high demand for the production system and environmental controls to perform as needed. Many small growers have been successfully producing crops at a profit for 10-15 years and many others have not made a profit and given up or sold the greenhouses in less than three years. Those who have been successful have used dependable production systems and have invested their time and effort in developing a profitable market.
So as you can see, there are some concerns when dealing with how does a greenhouse work with hydroponics.
- The cost of a greenhouse can be more than $ 20,000, and you will have “Extras” also
- It is safe, if you ask questions and put in place a good solid system.
- It can be more labor intensive as far as your time, because you can not set it and forget it.
- You can maintain organic certification, as well as naturally grown certification. But again, the systems need to be maintained daily.
- You can lose money and go out of business
- You can make money and have fun doing it as well as teaching others how to grow great food.
- There are steps that you can take to ensure your success, you just need to do your homework.
The question to ask yourself, is are you willing to learn, ask questions and invest time and money into the endeavor? If yes, this can be a successful deal for your and your family.
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Chris Downs————-The Caretaker