Ohio lettuce growers looking for new, innovative ways of growing produce year-round have hydroponics as a viable alternative. The technology will be demonstrated during Farm Science Review, Sept. 21-23 at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London.
Robert Hansen, an Ohio State University agricultural engineer with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, will share research results from OARDC’s Hydroponics Lettuce Research Laboratory. Hansen is collaborating with CropKing, Inc. on maintaining a hydroponic lettuce research laboratory, and with Beth Fausey, OSU Extension floriculture and hydroponic vegetable specialist, on outreach education and marketing.
“Hydroponics, like greenhouse production, is an alternative crop production system to field crop production,” Hansen said. “Hydroponics provides the potential to grow produce year-round, giving consumers access to locally grown vegetables.”
Hydroponics is a method of growing crops without soil, with nutrients delivered to the plant via water. Hansen said that initial input costs of hydroponic systems are high, but the control of system inputs — everything from lighting to nutrient levels to controlling insects and diseases — affords the greatest opportunities for a successful, high quality, high-value crop.
The Extension/research project, which evaluates the viability of using a hydroponics system in Ohio, is funded by a three-year U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Look for the hydroponics demonstration unit at Farm Science Review inside the Extension, Education and Research Tent along Friday Avenue of the exhibitor grounds.