How much does it cost to set up a one-acre hydroponic farm?
Updated: Jun 10
When you are planning to start something different, it not only needs courage, it also demands some capital. You have the courage, that's why we will talk about the input here today so that you can start your commercial hydroponic farm without worry.
With the increase in the world population and growing demands on organic food, the hydroponic market will grow to USD 16 billion by the year 2025. It is best to start a hydroponic farm during this time.
Building a new hydroponic farm requires so many things like land, the outer structure (polyhouse or greenhouse), growing structure, temperature maintaining system, water pumping system, and there are other things also.
Those are the things that take up a larger part of the capital.
Land on which the hydroponic farm set up
There are two options either you buy the land or take land on lease. You have an advantage if you already have land of your own. The rent of one-acre agriculture land is between Rs.10000 to Rs.15,000 per month near city.
Before finalizing the land, make sure it has access to water, electricity, and a road for better access to the market.
The outer structure of the hydroponic farm protects the plant from outside weather disturbances and provides a micro-ecosystem for the plants to grow optimally.
Outer structures are basically of three types:
● Naturally ventilated Polyhouse (NVPH) structure that regulates internal temperature with natural sunlight.
● Temperature controlled polyhouse (greenhouse) having a temperature control unit (fans and cooling pads) to stabilize the internal environment.
● Nethouse which only protect crops from pests and direct sunlight.
The cost of a temperature controlled polyhouse comes roughly starting from Rs. 1400/sq.mt, if we calculate this price for an acre, it (1 acre = 4046 sq.mt) will be rupees 56 lacs to 60 lacs depending on the material used.However NVPH starts with Rs. 900/sqmtr & Nethouse is 600/sqmtr.
If you are setting up a hydroponic farm in a cold climatic area, it will cut the costs as there will be no need for a cooling system, it will only require a blower& heaters if temp is less than zero degree Celsius
The kind of growing system depends on the type of plant you are planning to grow in your hydroponic farm.
Majorly two types of plant species are grown in a hydroponic farm:
● Short plant species example lettuce, basil, etc.
● Tall plant species example tomato, cucumber, etc.
Short plant varieties can be grown on a Vertical or horizontal-bench type NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) structure, in the area of one acre we also need space for the water filtration unit, tanks, electrical equipment, etc.
Assume that the growing system will be in the area of 3500 sq.mt (86 percent of the total area of the hydroponic farm) you will need around 18,000 meters of NFT channel (5.15 m/sq.mt) and the price of good quality NFT channel made of food-grade material is between Rs. 170 to Rs. 190 per meter. If we calculate the cost for 18,000 meters, it is Rs. 30 lakhs to Rs. 34 lakhs.
In this area, we can comfortably grow around 90,000 to 95,000 lettuce plants.
If you are planning to grow fruit or vegetable plants, you may require Dutch bucket system or media based grow bag system. These system range from Rs. 2800 to Rs. 3300/sqmtr depending on plant variety & type of system.
Temperature Controlling System
The temperature controlling system consists of cooling pads, fan systems, temperature sensors, water pumps. This type of temperature controlling system is required when the hydroponic farm is in the warm climate area.
If you are planning to set up a hydroponic farm in a cold climatic area, you don't need to install such a system; you will only need a blower if it is too cold outside.
The majority of the cost goes in the water pump and the cooling system. The water pump pumps water to the cooling pads while the fans draw air from outside and the combining effect of both cool down the temperature inside the hydroponic farm.
The power of the water pump depends on the area of the hydroponic farm. It will cost between Rs. 9 lakhs to Rs. 12 lakhs to install a temperature controlling system for one acre of hydroponic farm.
Calculating the overall cost of a commercial hydroponic farm
There are so many things that we have discussed yet, now let's add up all those.
● Temp controlled Polyhouse cost = Rs. 56 lakhs to Rs. 60 lakhs
● NVPH cost = Rs. 36 lakhs to Rs. 38 lakhs
● NFT system = Rs. 30 lakhs to Rs. 34 lakhs
Temperature Controlling System:
● Cost of system = Rs. 9 lakhs to 12 lakhs
The cost can be little higher if you install the full automated system.
Other equipment costs:
Equipment such a water treatment system, nutrient tanks, plumbing system, lighting, pumps, reservoir, air pump, temperature, EC, and pH monitors all of these will add more Rs. 5 lakhs to 8 lakhs to the total cost of the hydroponic farm.
The final cost for setting up a hydroponic farm in one acre of land will be Rs. 110 lakhs to Rs. 150 lakhs, excluding the price of land. This cost (INR 1.1 Cr onwards and upto INR 1.5 Cr) varies according to technology and the automation used.
It is an estimated cost, and it can vary according to your specific requirements and choices. After such a price, the profitability of a hydroponic farm outweighs it very smoothly.