Everyone is talking about hydroponics, but what is it?
Hydroponics is an agricultural solution that is being embraced across the U.S. and around the world. These efficient systems grow plants in water-based, nutrient-rich solutions without the use of soil. The word “hydroponic” comes from Latin and means “working water.” Simply put, it is the art of growing plants without soil.
Hydroponics will change the world!
We are no longer limited by climate or by season in the pursuit of clean, fresh food. We can now grow virtually any plant, anywhere at any time of day or year. With the simple, effective hydroponic systems now available, coupled with modern horticultural lighting, we can literally save precious resources like water, reduce the use of pesticides and feed the world!
Hydroponics systems provide clean, safe, sustainable food production.
There is almost $20B worth of crops grown hydroponically worldwide each year. U.S. hydroponic production is projected to grow at twice the rate of the rest of the world. Why? With 70% of the world’s freshwater and 40% of its ice-free land already used for agriculture, our growing population and changes in climate require more efficient farming methods.
Hydroponic systems are a perfect solution. When compared with soil-based farming, they are:
Why aren't there more hydroponics systems in use?
The two primary barriers to the acceptance and use of hydroponic systems are quickly eroding:
1. Lack of knowledge. Farmers and entrepreneurs (especially in the U.S.) didn’t know about hydroponics or understand it. This is rapidly changing as AmHydro sets up more growers worldwide.
2. Outdated economics. Historically, when water and land were abundant (i.e. cheap) and when no one was concerned about their food being produced thousands of miles away, the economics of traditional, soil-based farming were more favorable. But today, with our Get Growing!™ bundles and the ability to grow hydroponically near, or in urban centers, the economics have shifted in favor of hydroponics, and AmHydro.
Anything can be grown hydroponically!
That being said, there are a couple of things to consider.
1. What system do you have?
NFT grows leafy greens best while a bucket or hanging gutter system grows large frame, fruiting crops.
2. The most important aspect to consider is what does your market demand?
What can you easily grow and sell at a profit? Most people new to hydroponics start with an NFT system and grow leafy greens: lettuces, fancy lettuce, chard, kale, culinary herbs such as basil, dill, parsley, cilantro or fast crops like watercress, arugula or baby lettuce.
3. Remember that you can pivot quickly.
If you start to see a growing demand for something, you can easily pivot and focus on producing that particular item. You are not stuck growing whatever you started with.
Nutrient Film Technique systems are designed with long, narrow channels in which plants (like lettuce) are placed at regular intervals. This is our primary system. It will be your work horse.
Nutrient-rich water continuously flows down the channels, past exposed plant roots. Any unused solution is captured at the end of each channel, funneled back to a reservoir, automatically remixed for nutrient balance and recirculated with the help of a pump.
Bato Bucket Systems
For vine and medical (cannabis) crops, we have designed ‘bato bucket’ systems that are drip-fed AND recirculating in which individual buckets, placed in a line, take the place of NFT channels.
OurBato Bucket Systems (aka ‘Dutch buckets’ because the concept was invented in the Netherlands, a leader in hydroponics) are typically used for growing vine crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. We can offer you these hydroponic systems for your vine or medical crops, but we suggest that first-time growers start with, and master, an NFT system before adding Bato Buckets to a growing operation.
Propagation (Seed-to-Seedling) Tray Systems
AmHydro also incorporates proprietary technology into its propagation (seed to seedling) tray systems. This is a recirculating system where seeds and/or plants (with exposed roots) are placed in growing media (like Oasis or Rockwool) which is then set in trays. The trays are periodically filled with nutrient-rich solution, and then slowly drained (a nick name for this technology is “ebb and flow” for obvious reasons). Our hydroponic systems (including our Get Growing! bundles) include this style of propagation system.
Hydroponics is an exciting method of farming that can produce fresh, clean food for your community and a livelihood for you, the grower. Unfortunately, future growers get discouraged when researching hydroponic systems. Don’t worry, AmHydro has simplified this process by developing product bundles that make it quick and easy to get growing. We’ve done the hydroponics research for you.
Step 1: Research
Market research is not rocket science, but it is important to determine the viability of your operation or business. We want you to be successful, so please take this first step seriously. You will need to find answers to basic questions like: What crops can or should I grow? How many? Who will buy or consume them? How much will they pay?
We have developed our Get Growing! product bundles for different sizes of operations to make it easy for you to get set up. We have named these different product bundles: Commercial, Small Business, Farmers Market, Home & Classroom, and Medical/Cannabis for obvious reasons.
For those interested in setting up a small business, or fund your lifestyle with some extra income, find out who purchases produce. Collect contact information of buyers working for your local supermarkets, schools, medical facilities and restaurants. Interview them. Don’t worry, they won’t bite! Find out the prices they pay and their willingness and ability to purchase their food locally. If you need help getting started, just give us a call.
Some of you may need to construct a greenhouse. If so, you may have to determine what is needed to prepare and permit your greenhouse site. Many of you will not need a building permit, but if you do, call us for plans. You will also want to consider hook-ups for utilities.
And you should arrange for help to construct your greenhouse. If you have purchased one of our Get Growing! bundles with a greenhouse, you will need a construction team and equipment. Call us. We can help you determine what you will need. Nothing about this is hard, but no need to recreate the wheel!
Step 2: Prepare
If you know your operation or business is viable, it’s time to prepare its foundation:
Legally: File the paper work for your greenhouse building permit and your business incorporation.
Physically: Prepare the floor of your greenhouse. Think flat, compacted and don’t forget drainage.
Finacially: Work with your bank (or family/friends) to raise the necessary funds. Call us for help!
Emotionally: Make the call that will change your life. Order a Get Growing! TM bundle. Our bundles will include everything you will need to get growing. The larger ones even include greenhouses!
You may also want to prepare your market. A little pre-selling/marketing never hurt a new business. Consider setting up a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Tell your friends and ask them to spread the word. You could even pre-sell shares as a way to raise some initial cash!
Step 3: Set Up
With your foundation built, it is time to set up your operation or business. If you are setting up a new greenhouse, take delivery of your greenhouse and build it. Setting up your greenhouse will take time, but the process is simple. Depending on size and type, you may want to give your team two to five weeks to construct your greenhouse.
Now comes the fun part! Unpack your Get Growing! Hydroponics Kit and set it up with the help of our staff. We include all of the parts you will need, even some spares! We will be there to help you dial in the system and plant your first batch of seeds.
Once you have planted those seeds, you will have approximately 6 weeks to secure more orders for the first of your many harvests. As you build out your customer list, you will want to understand details regarding delivery times and locations, packaging requirements and quality standards. Map out an efficient delivery route and call us for all your hassle-free packaging needs like labels, bags, clamshells and boxes. We even have the Get Growing! Packaging Subscription to make it easy!