Finished setting up your dream hydroponic farm, everything at its place, but you is having difficulties in generating the profit that you want. Today we are discussing the best practices making your hydroponic farm more profitable and help you produce the highest plant yield and best quality.
Many things affect the profitability of a hydroponic farm, but some things affect the most. We are going to take a closer look at those for you.
Choice of Crops and Market Analysis
What are the most profitable crops in India? If you are trying to find the answer to this question, try to analyze your market demands. If a specific crop is valuable in one region, it doesn't need to be profitable in your area too.
Things you should remember before selecting the crop for your hydroponic farm:
The crop should have high demand in the nearby market.
Crop variety should be adaptable to environmental change.
The crop should have a high economic value.
It should be resistant to probable root diseases.
The market price of some high-value hydroponic crops in India:
Cherry Tomato: Rs.300 to Rs.350 per kg
Red Cabbage: Rs.150 to Rs.200 per kg
Lettuce: Rs.200 to Rs.400 per kg
Italian Basil: Rs.50 per 50g
·Bok Choy: Rs.400 to Rs.500 per kg
The maximum and minimum price of crops can vary with the region of your hydroponic farm.
Growing Media of Crops
The selection of media for growing crops is crucial. For example, if you have a flood-and-drain hydroponic system, the growing media should not move when you flood the rooting vessel with a nutrient solution.
The most widely used growing media are Rockwool, Stonewool, and Perlite. Perlite is a naturally occurring material having a high-water holding capacity and pore spaces, which makes it the desirable growth media for the hydroponic crop.
Rockwool is another growth media used widely in hydroponic farms. It is essential to cover these growth media from the side with plastic caps or sheets to prevent the growth of algae.
Quality of Water
A hydroponic farm is all about efficiency and control over things. Good quality water will help control things like pH, EC (Electrical Conductivity).
Here are the maximum allowable levels of common compounds and elements in water for hydroponic use:
Calcium: < 200 mg/L
Sodium: < 180 mg/L
Chloride: < 70 mg/L
Magnesium: < 60 mg/L
Boron: < 1 mg/L
Zinc: < 1mg/L
Optimum EC and TDS (Total Dissolved Salts) are essential for higher yields.
Different levels of TDS and EC for hydroponic water:
· TDS: less than 480 mg/L is healthy, and more than 1920 mg/L is severe for crops.
· EC: less than 0.75 ds/m is standard, and more than 3.0 ds/m can be harmful.
Low yields, poor quality of harvest can be an alarm to check the composition of your nutrient solution. There is no magic formula to have the best nutrient solution for your crops. You can only obtain this by experimenting with different methods and techniques. The grower should keep track and observe the growth of crops to have an idea which composition suits best for the crops.
The choice of nutrient solution for hydroponic crop depends mainly on three factors:
1. Plant nutrient and element demands
2. Hydroponic system type
3. Rate of application to crops
Sanitation of growing system
Proper cleaning of the growing system at regular intervals is crucial in preventing the loss in yield due to the attack of pathogen or due to root disease.
The whole growing system needs to be cleaned by disinfectants before planting a new crop.
Maintain the optimum levels
To get high yields of the crop, an optimum level of pH and water temperature is crucial. To get things under control, you need to keep an eye on these levels. Taking measurements frequently or using an automated control unit will help in maintaining the optimum levels.
The optimum levels are as follows:
Water Temperature: 18-degree Celsius to 22-degree Celsius
pH: 5.0 to 6.0
Maintenance of Reservoir
The reservoir stores the final mixed nutrient solution that fed to the plants. Keeping it light proof will prevent the growth of algae and bacteria. Once a week, drain the solution and clean the reservoir thoroughly with the disinfectants and rinse it properly.
It will be more convenient if you install a UV light inside the reservoir to limit the growth of bacteria inside it.
Grower Skill and Knowledge
After making everything as efficient as possible, the skill and knowledge can be the deciding factor to make a hydroponic farm profitable.
If the grower lacks the experience and professional skill required to manage a hydroponic farm, it will be hard for you to make your hydroponic business profitable even if the hydroponic farm has the best equipment installed.
The success of a hydroponic business depends on the procedural factors rather than individual skill. How you tackle the problems or the challenges in the path of success of your hydroponic business will ultimately decide the result.