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Truth About Commercial Hydroponic Farming

Indoor farming is proving to be an efficient way to produce more food with fewer resources than conventional farming, without being dependent on arable land availability and external climate conditions. Indoor agriculture takes out many of the risks inherent in outdoor crop production. By controlling light exposure, temperature, humidity and watering levels, you can grow food very efficiently. Indoor farming has the potential to produce food with less energy, less water, less waste and in less space than traditional methods. Because agriculture has such a significant impact on the environment, indoor farming offers solutions to many of the current problems. It could eliminate land conversion and habitat loss, wasteful water consumption and soil erosion and degradation, just to name a few.

There is no doubt that hydroponic farming systems are feasible as a commercial operation. Proof is in the application of this technology worldwide. There is enough information available, so that cannot be an excuse for failing. If you have the capital, then setting up a system is relatively easy.

The fresh produce market will always buy up the top quality produce at the best price. Hydroponics is designed to create an environment for the plant to grow at its genetic optimal therefore producing the highest quality yields possible.

Hydroponic farming is experiencing a boom and getting a lot of attention in the press, but many are left with the question, “is hydroponic farming really profitable?” Hydroponic farms are most commonly built indoors or in greenhouses.

These are highly productive facilities that can generate enough revenue to pay overhead expenses and provide healthy wages for farm workers.

Technically, we can produce almost any kind of plant in a factory. But what makes most economic sense is to produce fast-growing vegetables that can be sent to the market quickly. That means leaf vegetables for now. If done correctly, indoor farming has the potential to be the best of both worlds.

If you are looking into the economics of commercial hydroponic farming, there is one assumption worth pointing out: Hydroponic farms are already profitable. That’s why big corporations have built big greenhouses to grow the crops. Following are the main benefits of hydroponics which when combined together bring extraordinary results:

  • Virtually no pests, No weeds, no herbicides, no pesticides.
  • Large harvests: Hydroponic systems are basically vertical and therefore require lesser space and allow you to produce more.
  • Climate controlled – A climate-controlled environment enables you to grow non-seasonal vegetables which means you can grow throughout the year. You are not dependent on the weather conditions to make your vegetables grow. Furthermore, you can grow things that are not available in a particular season and sell them at a higher price.
  • Clean and fresh harvest – Everything grows right in front of your eyes and you can check anytime both leaves and roots are healthy and fresh. Moreover, you can even see the condition of your roots how clean and fresh they stay.
  • No need to work the soil – Hydroponics is completely soilless growing. Literally, no soil is used. So, you don’t need to work on the soil and you are completely free from all soil borne diseases. Especially, in this era, where our soil itself has become so polluted and unhygienic.
  • No water runoff – Water is really scarce now and each day it’s only getting worse. But, there is a solution – hydroponics, as this method uses only 10% of the water that is used in normal agriculture. In fact, there is no wastage of water either.
  • Reduced labour requirements – Hydroponics is not labour intensive at all as the systems don’t require too much time and effort as compared to normal agriculture. Once you get things in order and create proper procedures and processes, it doesn’t require a lot work.
  • Harvest consistency in quantity and quality – Hydroponics is as much a science as it is an art, you know exactly what is going to be your output and you can be sure of the quality of your produce. Whole system is very adaptable and scalable.
  • Ability to grow a wide assortment of crops: lettuce varieties, kale, arugula, cilantro, parsley, dill, thyme, mint, basil and most other leafy greens and culinary herbs

However, you should not start a commercial farm right away after reading few articles. The project is for the people who are extremely passionate about this subject. Please make sure you have some experience with hydroponic systems before you go big. Take it step by step.

Hydroponics is a demanding system. It doesn’t tolerate skipped chores. Many commercial farms fail due to following reasons:

  • Location: Both your geographical location and the physical space where you decide to install your vertical farm should be carefully considered. Your business will not get off the ground or go very far without a good location.
  • Choose a pricing strategy based on value: Your pricing should match the quality of your product, not the status quo. With the right system and distribution strategy, the local product you produce should be better than anything else on the shelves and it should be priced to reflect the increase in value.
  • Focus on trying to do one thing well: Farmers can either grow food or develop technology- not both. Attempting to do both, as shown by all three panelists, ends poorly.
  • Labor: As a farmer, you need to implement a system that reduces labor costs and does not require you to install and maintain expensive automation technology to be economically viable.
  • Quality farm labor requires quality farm education: It should be clear by now that labor poses significant challenges for local farmers and hiring workers without the knowledge they need to succeed will only pour fuel on the fire. To continue growing at the trajectory it’s currently on, the indoor/vertical farming industry will need even more accessible educational opportunities for training and developing their farm laborers as well as business managers.
  • Treat your farm like the process: It is important to see past production. Every system can grow crops, but not every system can optimize your workflows and maximize labor efficiencies. You cannot afford not adding some sort of value to your product such as packaging, cutting or combining different products into one package.
  • Data is useless unless you can put it to work: Local farmers should not rely on data to save them from an inefficient farm setup or their inability to sell their crops. Data can amplify and accelerate a farmer’s production and sales, but only if they have the infrastructure in place to use it effectively.
  • Passion: Don’t rely too much on your consultants and product suppliers. They will guide you but sooner or later you will be managing the farm by yourself. Therefore, extreme dedication and knowledge is required. Be prepared to work hard.

There is no doubt that hydroponic farming systems are feasible as a commercial operation. Proof is in the application of this technology worldwide. There is enough information available, so that cannot be an excuse for failing. If you have the capital, then setting up a system is relatively easy.

The fresh produce market will always buy up the top quality produce at the best price. Hydroponics is designed to create an environment for the plant to grow at its genetic optimal therefore producing the highest quality yields possible.

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