Growing plants in a liquid nutrient solution without soil in controlled environments, i.e. hydroponics, has been successfully used for greenhouse production of lettuce, tomatoes, herbs, and other crops. Hydroponic production is an agricultural production practice that optimizes energy consumption and water use; effectively employs chemical-free integrated pest management controls (IPM); permits agricultural production independent of season; and can generate higher crop yields with improved quality, consistency, and predictability, while exploiting less land. Hydroponics provides year round continuous production and crop yields that exceed field production by as much as 10-fold, all while optimizing resources including water, energy, space, capital, and labor. Hydroponics is an important agriculture practice commonly represented in greenhouse food crop production. However, hydroponic systems have a higher initial investment than soil-based crop production and require technical skills and careful management.
Learn more from the experts
On Feb. 8 and 9, 2018 greenhouse growers will have the opportunity to learn about best practices for growing crops in hydroponic systems. The Ohio State University Greenhouse Management Workshop, which is held annually, provides opportunities to learn from the experts in industry and academia. Below is a small sample of topics that will be addressed.
The fundamentals of hydroponics production, including controlling the greenhouse environment and lighting needs, will be discussed by Chieri Kubota with Ohio State University (OSU). Peter Ling, OSU, will cover the importance of managing humidity and how to ensure it is optimal. Controlling plant diseases and using Integrated Pest Management practices will be presented by Sally Miller and Luis Canas, respectively, both with OSU.
Glen and Lois Smuckers, hydroponic growers near Orrville will share their experiences, from why they chose hydroponics to how their system works. Chieri Kubota, OSU, will provide specific management recommendations for growing lettuce and tomatoes hydroponically, and Mark Kroggel, OSU, will do the same for strawberries. Other topics will address food safety, business plans, and more.
The workshop will also feature a tour of the OARDC research greenhouses on day 1 and a tour of a commercial greenhouse using hydroponics on day two.
For program and registration details, visit our website: http://fabe.osu.edu/greenhouse.
Dr. Peter Ling and Mary H. Wicks, Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. Phone: 330-263-3857; 330-202-3533. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com. This column is provided by the OSU Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, OSU Extension, Ohio Agricultural Research & Development Center, and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.