Hydroponic Nutrient solutions

clipped from en.wikipedia.org

Commercial Hydroponics

The largest commercial hydroponics facility in the world is Eurofresh Farms in Willcox, Arizona, which sold 125 million pounds of tomatoes in 2005.[14] Eurofresh has 318 acres (1.29 km2) under glass and represents about a third of the commercial hydroponic greenhouse area in the U.S.[15] Eurofresh does not consider its tomatoes organic, but they are pesticide-free. They are grown in rockwool using the run to waste technique.

Some commercial installations use no pesticides or herbicides, preferring integrated pest management techniques. There is often a price premium willingly paid by consumers for produce which is labeled “organic“. Some states in the USA require soil as an essential to obtain organic certification. There are also overlapping and somewhat contradictory rules established by the US Federal Government, so some food grown with hydroponics can be certified organic.

Hydroponics is easy to set up when you’re a hobbyist, but if you have aspirations of becoming a master grower, you owe it to yourself to read the best hydroponics newsletter on the web.

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Hydroponics also saves water; it uses as little as 1/20 the amount as a regular farm to produce the same amount of food. The water table can be impacted by the water use and run-off of chemicals from farms, but hydroponics may minimize impact as well as having the advantage that water use and water returns are easier to measure. This can save the farmer money by allowing reduced water use and the ability to measure consequences to the land around a farm.

To increase plant growth, lighting systems such as metal halide for growing stage only or high pressure sodium for growing/flowering/blooming stage are used to lengthen the day or to supplement natural sunshine if it is scarce. Metal halide emits more light in the blue spectrum, making it ideal for plant growth but is harmful to unprotected skin and can cause skin cancer. High pressure sodium emits more light in the red spectrum, meaning that it is best suited for supplementing natural sunshine and can be used throughout the growing cycle. However, these lighting systems require large amounts of electricity to operate.

AgriHouse Inc under NASA grants researched and developed a high-efficiency low-wattage lighting array that eliminates insects from eating hydroponically and aeroponically grown crops.[16] AgriHouse’s low-wattage light array system has only a 2°F heat transfer from the bulb to the crop, allowing the light source to be extremely close to the growing crop. The NASA lighting system allows Grow-Anywhere LLC, Denver, Colorado, to grow mass volumes of leaf crops and micro-greens using aeroponics in an industrial warehouse space without sunlight.[17] According, Dr. Larry Forrest, owner, this type of operation could not have been achieved with metal halide or high pressure sodium bulbs due to their high energy cost of operation.[18]

The environment in a hydroponics greenhouse is tightly controlled for maximum efficiency and this new mindset is called Soil-less/Controlled Environment Agriculture (S/CEA). With this growers can make ultra-premium foods anywhere in the world, regardless of temperature and growing seasons. Growers monitor the temperature, humidity, and pH level constantly.

Hydroponics have been used to enhance vegetables to provide more nutritional value. A hydroponic farmer in Virginia has developed a calcium and potassium enriched head of lettuce, scheduled to be widely available in April 2007. Grocers in test markets have said that the lettuce sells “very well”, and the farmers claim that their hydroponic lettuce uses 90% less water than traditional soil farming.[19]

Plant nutrients are dissolved in the water used in hydroponics and are mostly in inorganic and ionic form. Primary among the dissolved cations (positively-charged ions) are Ca2+ (calcium), Mg2+ (magnesium), and K+ (potassium); the major nutrient anions in nutrient solutions are NO3 (nitrate), SO42− (sulfate), and H2PO4 (dihydrogen phosphate).Numerous ‘recipes’ for hydroponic solutions are available. Many use different combinations of chemicals to reach similar total final compositions. Commonly-used chemicals for the macronutrients include potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate, potassium phosphate, and magnesium sulfate. Various micronutrients are typically added to hydroponic solutions to supply essential elements; among them are Fe (iron), Mn (manganese), Cu (copper), Zn (zinc), B (boron), Cl (chlorine), and Ni (nickel). Chelating agents are sometimes used to keep Fe soluble. Many variations of the nutrient solutions used by Arnon and Hoagland (see above) have been styled ‘modified Hoagland solutions’ and are widely used. Variation of different mixes throughout the plant life cycle, further optimizes its nutritional value.[13]

Plants will change the composition of the nutrient solutions upon contact by depleting specific nutrients more rapidly than others, removing water from the solution, and altering the pH by excretion of either acidity or alkalinity. Care is required not to allow salt concentrations to become too high, nutrients to become too depleted, or pH to wander far from the desired value.

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2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    cultiv8 said,

    I think a lot of people don’t understand the water savings of hydroponics. The thinking is that since the use of water is so obvious that it must be a lot of water. It’s too easy to see all the dirt and not remember just how much water it takes to keep that soil moist.

    Traditional soil growing uses ten times as much water, or more, simply because there’s nothing to stop the water from going wherever it wants to. So it takes a lot more to get “enough”.

  2. 2

    all though good in information none of these blogs states how to prepare an nutrient solution. I believe relieving secrets in hydroponics will help it spread & prosper.

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