If you are thinking about starting a hydroponic farming business, check out these tips and learn more about the hydroponic technology in order to succeed in your business.
What is hydroponic farming?
The hydroponic technology consists of growing plants without implanting them in soil. In such farming, the plants get nutrients through the water, then soil is not necessary and they can be planted in other methods like suspending them or securing them.
Many people have started this kind of hydroponic farming in their own homes in a backyard, as the technique does not need any pesticides, is not harmful to humans and there are many hydroponic farming advantages.
There are many benefits to hydroponic farming besides being environmentally friendly. You need to use water solvent instead of soil for growing these plants. Minerals as well as nutrients are mixed with water so that plants can produce a higher and optimum yield.
Let’s check out steps for a hydroponics startup and how to start a hydroponic farming business.
What You Need for a Hydroponic Farming Business
As a part of the hydroponic farm business plan, you will need the following while starting a hydroponic farming business:
- About half an acre of clear land space. You can also use urban rooftops, basements for such farming.
Even with just 250 sq. ft, an indoor farm is capable of producing food for hundreds of families locally.
- Water and Electricity.
Make sure that the water is of good quality and suitable for hydroponics.
- Hydroponic Equipment for a small scale hydroponic farming business or a large scale hydroponic farming.
- Decide the kind of plants to specialize, such as leafy greens or herbs, etc.
You don’t need a greenhouse for hydroponic farming, as you can just use a shaded cloth instead. However, it also depends on the climate and the type of crops that you are planning to grow.
Due to the high quality of the crop, your hydroponic farming business produce can be sold to both wholesale and retail outlets in order to get the highest prices.
- You can approach major retail outlets in your area, sell directly to customers and restaurants as well as exporters. First, focus on local markets and later look for export options.
- Consider who are going to be your target customers and where you can find them. This will help you identify a suitable sales strategy. You can supply vegetables, herbs as well as micro herbs locally.
- Every market is different. You must first understand your market and what kind of produce will sell there in order to assess the profitability of hydroponic farming.
- Ask yourself questions like, is the market an ethnic one? Are they looking for Asian greens and are there other suppliers out there? Is there a demand for culinary herbs? Are there restaurants nearby who are consistently in need of culinary herbs? And what are the prices being charged by the competition
Skills, Experience and Hydroponic Training
- You will need to know the basics of hydroponics and about plant growth requirements, amount of light needed, nutrition, growth regulators etc.
- Get trained in basic growing systems, plant temperatures, nutrient formula preparation, techniques, irrigation system, weed control, etc.
- Farming or gardening experience would be useful, but you don’t need a degree. It would be useful to have an agricultural education.
Consider going in for a certificate in hydroponic growing systems for beginners to learn about commercial hydroponics and how to manage a hydroponic farm.
You can have these farms indoors and, in a greenhouse, as well. These will be included in the cost of setting up a hydroponic farm.
- Energy costs.
- Equipment costs, including high power lighting, air conditioners and fans and pumps.
- Water cost, which will vary according to the geographical location and availability.
- Seeds and growing mediums. Rock wool cubes are popular mediums.
- Nutrients (Tip: follow feeding charts offered by nutrient companies, as they are more reliable)
- Rent and mortgage costs depending on the square footage.
- Electricity, which might be pricier in case of high-power users.
The costs will differ based on the type of hydroponic system you opt for. Even after your hydroponic setup is up and running, you will still need money for functioning.
Legalities and Registration
There are certain restrictions applicable in some rural and urban locations.
- Check out the legalities necessary from the local planning commission in your town or city.
- Check out zoning laws, requirements related to usage of water and electrical equipment’s or any other restrictions connected with chemical usage.
- Follow all insurance requirements, weight loads that are permitted for your flooring, restrictions related to placing of hydroponic equipment on a rooftop etc.
Obtain all necessary licenses and permits required for hydroponic farming by checking out from the US Deptt. Of Agriculture.
Crops to Grow
You can grow almost anything in hydroponic farming. However, some of the top fruits and vegetables in this type of farming are:
- Tomatoes, as they need just a small bit of space.
- Lettuce is another top choice and you can harvest it within weeks.
- Spring onions, peppers, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, basil and coriander are other popular plants in this type of farming.
To select plants that can stand moisture and will not grow very big in size for the setup.
Starting Your Greenhouse
- You have to select plants that can be grown in a cost-effective manner.
- Take care of equipment maintenance, order seeds etc.
- Develop connections with local vendors.
- Arrange for financing. Check out the costs, the expenses involved and the approximate revenue expected.
- Apply for a business loan if you need to.
- Decide on the locality and the amount you are ready to spend on your greenhouse, whether you would like to expand it later.
- Choose the system and contact people who are going to set it up for you. Get all the necessary infrastructure.
- Next, get seeds and start planting them.
Keeping an Eye
You need to keep an eye on your plants every day in hydroponic farming.
- Check out the temperature, the humidity in the atmosphere, pest infiltration, plant diseases right away.
You could even try putting a webcam on the location, but it cannot replace actually walking through the greenhouse and keeping eyes on the plants.
Promoting and Marketing, Getting Contracts
- Make your greenhouse accessible for delivery trucks and consumers to collect the produce.
- Approach local chefs, produce managers, grocery stores, farmer’s markets or even directly contact customers.
Ask your customers whether there is anything else they would like and whether the quality is good. Listen to customers, give them samples and offer to produce special requests, in order to develop a continuity for your hydroponic farming business.
- The key to promoting your hydroponic yield is to create a brand identity for your vegetables and fruits. Label them to differentiate them from unbranded ones grown in fields. Include your company logo and name and package it in neat containers.
- Check out the local florists and nurseries, a farmer’s market, flea market, county fairs, national chains as well as home owned stores and supermarkets. Access convenience stores, shops in and outside malls, fast food joints, the list is endless.
- Take your samples and listen to their requests and responses.
Markets keep changing, so what sells this season might not be so hot the next season, but there are a few predictables, so you can have a special niche and hold on to it.
- Last but not least, do not forget to have a web presence. Set up your blog and a website, where you can get orders for your produce online and promote your website in social media.
Wrap Up – Hydroponic Farm Business
Hydroponic farming uses water solvents instead of soil for growing plants and offers an excellent means of preserving the environment as well as giving top quality, nutritious and tasty farm produce.
You can beautify the local community as well by growing lovely flowers and greenery and improve the health of your community, as it does not damage the environment.
There is an emerging trend towards hydroponic farming today and the produce is in high demand.
All you need to do is to produce top quality produce, sell it at competitive prices and establish business connections with local buyers to hit the ground running in this business! Whether you are willing to take the plunge or not into hydroponic farming business, the trend is here to stay and is part of future farming technologies.