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How to start Hydroponic farm business

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

Hydroponics is the technology of the future. You must decide the system that suits you best, choose crops that do well in the market ecosystem and grow well and fix a budget.

Indoor Hydroponic farm in controlled environment inside container developed by Barton Breeze
Container Farm in UAE

The agriculture industry is facing many critical issues like lack of agricultural space, poor soil quality, overuse of chemical fertilizers and lack of nutrition and hygiene in the produce. These issues can be resolved by the use of the Hydroponic form of farming. Hydroponic is a form of farming that uses no soil at all. The plants grow in a nutrient rich solution based on water.

Advantages of Hydroponic farming

Hydroponics is the technology of the future. You must decide the system that suits you best, choose crops that do well in the market ecosystem and grow well and fix a budget.

Plants grow up to 20% faster in hydroponic systems.Yields are up to 25% bigger as compared to farming in soil.In areas where soil quality is poor and contaminated or space is a constraint. Plants do not need to grow extensive root systems so more plants can be grown in a smaller area.You actually save water as the reservoirs are enclosed to prevent evaporation. The hydroponic systems are sealed so plants take up only the required amount of water.

Choose your system

Choosing the best hydroponics system that suits your needs the best is important. The three most beginner-friendly systems are the water culture, wick and ebb and flow systems.

Wick Systems are mechanically the simplest to set up. The wick connects a reservoir filled with water and nutrients and a container placed over it filled with growing medium. The wick draws up the nutrient rich water to the roots of the plant. This works best with micro greens, peppers and herbs.Water Culture is also quite simple to set up. The plants are placed in a Styrofoam platform that is placed on a reservoir with the solution. A bubbler air pump makes it oxygen rich. This is perfectly suited to lettuce and other short maturity water hungry plants.Ebb and Flow systems are more complex. The growth enhancing nutrient rich solution floods the area and then drains back into the reservoir.

A submersible pump with a sensor and timer are needed to achieve this. You can customize the system according to the crop you plan to grow. The plan should take into account the number of plants, temperature, humidity, and plant size. You can also pot the plant individually or in a tray.

Choosing What to Grow

Setting up a hydroponics system can seem to be slightly expensive and daunting at the beginning. But as you plant for a few cycles you can trim your growing pattern according to the market you aim to target. It is best to start with easy to grow and small plants like herbs and vegetables that are quick growing and need little maintenance and nutrients. It is important that you choose plants that need similar nutrients to grow together.

In a Business to Business scenario you need to grow a lesser variety of plants but in greater quantity to meet the requirements of the vendor. The idea should be to get larger contracts with lower margins to get assured revenue. If your target is direct selling then you need to focus on growing a variety of produce to create customer delight.

Other factors required to grow healthy food through hydroponics

Lighting the indoor farm- Most Hydroponic farms are positioned in places where sunlight access is limited. So if you receive less than 6 hours of direct sunlight it may be a good idea to add supplemental grow lights. A timer works well so that lights come on and off at similar times day after day.The room conditions should consider the right amount of relative humidity, CO2 levels, temperature and air circulation.

The ideal humidity would be 40-60 %. A mis-match could cause fungal attacks and mildew. Ideal temperatures should hover at 68-70 F. Higher temperatures stunt plant growth. Air circulation and higher amounts of CO2 can ensure higher growth.The water you use for hydroponic farming should be ideal to dissolve the nutrients.

A Ph balance of 5.8-6.2 is considered the most suitable. You may need to use chemicals to get your water in the right range.The nutrients that are essential for plant growth are available in liquid, dry, organic and inorganic forms. They can be adjusted to suit the plants you plan to grow. The mix should contain the macronutrients like potassium, calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium. Trace micronutrients like zinc, manganese, molybdenum, boron, copper and chlorine are also important.

Choosing the right partner to provide technical know-how and equipment is crucial to start a successful business. Companies like Barton Breeze support your initiative to grow healthy food and start a viable business in hydroponic farming. Once you set up your farm you can reach out to farmers markets, online portals, hospitality groups or even aggregators to expand your market.

Author Note: The author has 20 years of corporate experience and is now a urban farmer, having hands on experience in hydroponic farming. The author feels if you an #urbanfarmer and want to explore #Hydroponics or planning to start one, it is advisable to connect with commercial hydroponic farm developers such as to outsource your complete farming / agronomist needs so as to save your Time, Energy and Money in running your agri business. It's always advisable to outsource all your farming needs and live a hassle-free life.

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