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Producing Hydroponic Fodder

producing-hydroponic-fodder

Authored by Max Salinger, Research Horticulturist Extraordinaire with CropKing

For years we have known about the human health benefits of eating sprouts and juicing greens, so why not extend the wellbeing to our farms? As winter approaches many of our animals are relegated to dusty, dry hay; but this can be avoided by utilizing hydroponic technology that is new to the United States, but practiced for years in countries like New Zealand and Australia. Through the use of a modified nutrient film technique (NFT) channel you are able to sprout common cereal grains into nutrient dense, highly palatable, fresh greens. These channels are often much wider than their lettuce production counterparts to allow for a larger amount of seed to be sprouted at one time.

These sprouts, or “hydroponic fodder” can be produced in as little as seven days and require no fertilizer and very little light. Some of the most common grains used to make hydroponic fodder are Barley, Wheat and Black Oil Sunflower seeds. Many farmers will make specific grain mixes to cater to their individual animals needs and some grain companies are even offering pre-mixed rations. This fodder can be fed to a wide variety of animals ranging from chickens and turkeys to horses and cattle. The hydroponic fodder mimics these animals’ natural diets much better than that of standard grain mixed rations and dried hay. In certain cases, feeding hydroponic fodder in the winter months can even help reduce the instances of foundering and colic in animals like horses and cows.

One of the biggest obstacles that we face when producing sprouts for our animals is growing a mold free product while still maintaining a high level of germination. What makes this challenging is the fact that both germinating seeds and fungal pathogens thrive in high humidity, warm conditions. By utilizing hydroponic NFT technology, newer fodder systems reduce ambient humidity and water loss often associated with older misting type systems. This reduction in ambient humidity allows us to utilize these systems in slightly warmer conditions, stimulating germination, but not mold growth. Some of the most successful hydroponic fodder systems are operated in highly regulated conditions using environmental control equipment often seen in greenhouse and indoor cultivation complexes.

However, unlike these types of growing operations, hydroponic fodder production relies on very little supplemental light. The sprouting process is on such a short cycle that most of the growth that we see is a product directly correlated to the stored carbohydrates already within the seed and not photosynthetic acquisition of sugars. This fact leads many hydroponic fodder farmers to utilize heavily insulated structures with no light penetration as opposed to a greenhouse; the cost of the minimal artificial lighting is offset by the fuel savings seen in this type of structure. From state of the art, fully controlled structures as described above to at-home DIY units, hydroponic fodder is steadily gaining popularity with farms of all sizes. Whether you are looking to increase the quality of your animals’ life or to mitigate the high cost of hay, hydroponic fodder is a great solution.

Authored by Max Salinger, Research Horticulturist Extraordinaire with CropKing | Reach Max via email.

Today’s GROWING Trends

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There is a noticeable shift in society’s relationship with food and an increased appetite for organic and nutritious choices. People are realizing that they have somehow lost control of where their food comes from and knowledge of the growing process. Individuals are increasingly mindful of their role and responsibility in feeding themselves and their families and are looking for solutions that are in their control, local, and healthy. Food has a direct impact on us socially, economically, and environmentally. It’s important for us to understand our relationship with food today and for the future. Today’s growing trends are here to stay.

Hydroponic Micro-Investment

Investing in hydroponics supplies used to be costly and time consuming. Today’s growing trends have inspired the hydroponic micro-gardens which are great value and all-in-one systems.  Choose a plug-and-play systems that allow you to seemlessly integrate gardens into your lifestyle or a DIY solutions. These micro-gardens can be virtually any size, from table-top personal units, to industrial or commercial units.  The benefits of these growing methods are endless. The best way to ensure dividends, whether it be in profit or in produce, is simply to give it a go.

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Second Stage Investing

If you have the capital to invest in a more advanced system, the Urban Cultivator is efficient, stylish, and a micro-appliance that fits under your counter-top like a dishwasher. Incorporating units such as this in your home makes for a healthy home and educates families on the value and growing process of the food we eat on a daily bases. Other hydroponic systems are widely available online and in stores.

Know your numbers. Image Via SmartBee Controllers,

Know your numbers. Image Via SmartBee

Hydroponics Industry: Growing Trends

Agriculture, food production, is top of mind around the world. Therefore, those hydroponic innovators and controlled environment agriculture specialists have an extensive knowledge that can benefit growers. Farmers and traditional agriculture professionals are learning from hydroponic experts on the value of information technology. As business analysis recommend, know your numbers! Hydroponic and soilless method growers, know that knowing your numbers, through monitored environment and making necessary adjustments, maximizes yields. Collecting and sharing big data helps all growers and anyone who likes food.

The hydroponics industry is moving full steam ahead. We have the grandfathers of hydroponic to thank for its advancements. On a micro-level hydroponics can feed ourselves and our families, on a macro-level feeding entire cities. There is a vast amount of expert growers and professors that are happy to help you get started and the roster of consultants and courses is thriving.

 

3 Types of Indoor Gardening Services

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The aesthetic appeal of living walls and indoor gardens has certainly increased the demand for companies who not only manufacture indoor gardening products, but provide indoor gardening services as well. These companies alleviate much of the leg -work that goes into designing and planning indoor gardens, and are also a convenient option for maintaining the health and vitality of the garden.

The convenience of indoor gardening services includes their expertise and provision of education to their customers. With their knowledge, indoor gardening service professionals will select the best types of plants for your needs, design the perfect gardening system for the space in question, and educate on maintenance requirements as needed.

Here are three types of indoor gardening services that are available today:

Soilless Gardens for Restaurants
Restaurant owners are turning to on-site soilless gardening systems to grow their own herbs and vegetables, responding to the increased demand for hyper-local food.
Living Walls for Office Buildings
Employers today are more aware of the benefits of growing plants in office spaces, which is why living walls are a great solution to increase productivity and add natural beauty to the workplace.
Edible Walls for the Home
Edible walls allow urban residents to grow and pick their own fresh herbs year round right in their very own kitchen.

Read more about full-service indoor gardening.Feature Image: An office with a living wall. Image via Matt Cohen, NRDC.

5 Hydroponic Growing Methods

If you’ve decided to take the hydroponic plunge there are certainly ore than a few things to know. The following is a list of the different types of hydroponic growing methods. This will be helpful if you’re thinking of building your own hydroponic garden but don’t know where to start. Some of these hydroponic growing methods are more complex than others.

5 Hydroponic Growing Methods

  1. Drip Irrigation – System in which water and nutrients are delivered via gravity dripping your H2O supply at a constant rate.
  2. Ebb and Flow – An inert medium that the plants grow through is flooded periodically.
  3. Nutrient Film Technique – A shallow stream of water is recirculated through the plants roots.
  4. (Deep) Water Culture – A plant suspended in water that is constantly being aerated.
  5. Wick System – Utilizing capillary action to deliver water to the plants

Read more.

NOTE: If you’re at the beginner stage then I recommend starting with a simple drip irrigation. It’s the most basic of the hydroponic growing methods and can be constructed at minimal cost.

Feature Image: Live sustainably using a hydroponic gardening system. Image via The Life Experimenter.

9 Important Benefits of Urban Gardening

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Urban gardening is becoming a popular option among city dwellers. A disconnect from nature and from the food production process has a lot of people concerned over their health and quality of life. Nowadays, there are plenty of options for urbanites including indoor gardening systems. These options make it easier for individuals and families to reap the benefits of growing your own food.

Here are some important benefits to be obtained from urban gardening:

1. Improved indoor air quality.

2. Lowered risk of respiratory disorders, as well as chronic headaches and eye irritation.

3. Increased levels of empathy and compassion through attention and care given to plants.

4. Improved human mental wellbeing as well as productivity levels.

5. Access to fresh kitchen ingredients in your own home.

6. Reduced risk of chemical ingestion found in foods that have been transported to grocery stores.

7. Increased awareness about the need for improving our environmental impact.

8. Reduced maintenance requirements as plants are relatively safe from pests and disease.

9. Increased availability of low-maintenance, automated indoor gardening systems for the home or office.

Read more about the benefits of urban gardening and the methods available to grow your own food.Feature Image: Modern Sprout Planter for indoor urban gardening. Image via Modern Sprout.

Building Integrated Agriculture Reinvents Traditional Farming Typology

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Cities are shifting to local food production by integrating farms into existing buildings or by revitalizing abandoned infrastructure. Organizations are developing new business models incorporating building integrated agriculture that are both economical and sustainable.

4 Emerging Farm Building Typologies

1. The Zero Mile Market

As produce is transported from the farm to your grocery store, a ton of waste is produced from packaging, shipping and storage. Grocery chains are trying to reduce lost revenue by limiting distribution and by partnering with farming companies to grow produce in house. Companies like Brightfarms and Gotham Greens have partnered with Whole Foods to integrate farming infrastructure into new stores in New York.

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Gotham Greens is a 15,00 square foot rooftop greenhouse located in New York City. They produce 100 tons of leafy greens annually. Image via Gotham Greens.

2. Food Hub

Imagine if you could buy your produce from a local farmer every day in the year and even if you live in a big city? Food hubs sometimes even grow their own food on site while amassing local produce from nearby farmers to sell to consumers directly. Located in Montreal, Lufa Farms was built over an abandoned warehouse and sells weekly baskets of produce grown on their farm as well as many other goods from local farmers.

3. Factory Farm

The ability to grow food year round and also take advantage of abandoned infrastructure is why new farms are making more economical sense in the city. This includes Toshiba’s high-tech lettuce farm in Yokosuka, Japan.

4. Rooftop Farm

Farming on rooftops is becoming more popular as new building by-laws are encouraging development in this sector. For example, in 2011 New York passed a zoning by-law that would exclude rooftop greenhouses atop commercial buildings from the building’s floor area ratio. This would allow developers to build higher than the allowed height restrictions but for greenhouses exclusively. These new by-laws could spark profound changes in city skylines.

The movement towards building integrated agriculture and increasing growing space coupled with the issue of limited available space in big cities is the cause for new and innovative approaches to farming.Feature Image: Toshiba’s lettuce factory in Yokosuka, Japan grows lettuce in a soilless and controlled environment.

First Place at Agritecture Design Workshop NYC

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The workshop began in the typical meet and greet fashion, with wide-eyed participants unaware of what laid in store for them, while enthusiastic volunteers from Blue Planet Environmental made for a distinctly separate crowd. Minutes after the initial welcome from Henry Gordon Smith, founder of Agritecture, the part in the crowd dissolved with experts speaking casually with newcomers. The camaraderie grew faster than the microgreen salads served up at the front table, courtesy of Stonebridge Farm in upstate New York.

Agritecture Design Workshop

A urban agriculture workshop is a welcome oasis to the normal hustle and bustle of the Big City. The typical sprawling stressful atmosphere was nowhere to be found. A diverse crowd in attendance offered an intriguing depth of conversation, as students and pros from all walks of life were preparing for the next day’s main event. Each of the three teams consisted of architects, professional growers, marketing experts, engineers, entrepreneurs, and various students from the greater NYC area interested in the many aspects of a sustainable business and urban agriculture.  This introduction period ended quickly but the discussions afterwards went on later into the night. By this time the three teams were busy at work.

The torrential downpours of late autumn could do little to stifle the three groups as they worked diligently throughout the day. With several international guests in attendance there were rare moments of idle time. Each of the three teams had assembled an amazing presentation, covering the initial capital investment required, details of the location and issues therein, as well as what would be grown, what services would be offered, and even how long of a turn-around before the design became profitable.

Dickson Despommier

With the respectable cast of judges ready to hear the presentations, Dickson Despommier, Professor Emeritus at Columbus University, and author of The Vertical Farm (an amazing read, pioneering the art and science of urban agriculture and growing up, rather than out) spoke briefly on the principles outlined in his book. Taking the established practice of a rooftop garden, an art-form existing since the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and “moving it inside, to each level of an existing structure” we’re able to recycle the abandoned warehouses and factories that dot our urban centers, artifacts of the industrial revolution, and feed entire cities. Professor Despommier was, and is ahead of his time, and I predict in the next decade, the practice of vertical agriculture is going to become commonplace to meet the growing demand for fresh greens in even the densest metropolitan areas.

Team Rock N Grow Revitalizing the Rockaways

Team One, AKA “Team Rock ‘N’ Grow” planned to revitalize the disaster stricken Greater Rockaway area of Long Island struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Working with various aid packages through the Governor’s office and with local support, Rock ‘N’ Grow planned to breathe new life into an inundated parcel of land in a considerable food desert within a relatively low income area.

Working with local developers and community councils would quickly pay off, as the plot would be transformed from an unusable and undesirable marshy fen to a community center and public garden, equipped with a storm-water absorbing catchment zone of native species that thrive on the mixture of brackish and salty water that surges into the area during significant storms. Permaculture techniques would be employed to sustainably maintain the storm barriers and ensure productivity despite any of nature’s harsh interventions.

The facility itself would house considerable hydroponic and aquaponic apparatus, churning out nearly 250 tons of kale, leafy greens, and culinary herbs to the surrounding area and major boroughs of NYC. The team estimated that more than 30% of the sales would be made locally through the community, providing much needed nutrition as well as fresh and delicious produce within the neighborhood. As an added benefit the 1500 square foot aquaponic farm would provide wholesome tilapia year round, reducing the demand for processed and frozen fish in local restaurants.

The real benefit to the community, aside from the 25 full-time jobs, would stem from the community center and farmer’s market designed and run by the local populous that would be constructed on the ground floor of the building. Providing seasonal produce through a system of community outreach soil-based farms, the locals would have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take part in the growing of their own food, an uncommon blessing in the low to middle class neighborhoods surrounding New York.

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Team Mott Haven Fresh Farms Delivers Fresh Food Direct

Team Two, who was fortunate enough to work with a representative of the grocery delivery giant Fresh Direct, had also planned a waterfront community oasis. The primary focus of the “Mott Haven Fresh” design revolved around the hotly contested placement of a shipping warehouse for Fresh Direct, yielding a massive footprint and rather ominous corporate presence in any local neighborhood, the residents wanted nothing to do with a new distribution center down the block. Mott Haven Fresh’s master plan involved renovating and abandoned lot on the Bronx Kill River and placing the 500,000sq. foot distribution center underground, below a 100,000 square foot greenhouse, community park, and public bike path.

While the semi-trucks came and went directly to the freeway, unhindered by local traffic, the residents of the surrounding community reaped the benefits of 2.5 million pounds of fresh produce, learning centers, rolling green parks with storm-mitigating bioswales, and more than 50 jobs on-site. The team motto, “Parks, not Parking Lots” rang true to the classroom of NY natives and the design was exceedingly well-met. The design was made even sweeter by the use of phytoremdiation techniques to purify local run-off that would have otherwise dumped various waste products from the surrounding industry into the river, one of the worst-polluted in the metropolitan area.

Team Grid Farm Park Revitalization From the Ground up

Team Three, “Grid Farm Park”, was perhaps the most ambitious of the three teams, working within the densest industrial parks of the Greater NYC Area, they sought to repurpose an abandoned petroleum storage tank site. Under normal circumstances, remediation of this site would cost several million dollars. The top meter of soil would need to be dredged, shipped out for decontamination and purified while the lot is refilled and leveled with soil from out of the area. Additional testing and monitoring of the soil would also need to take place over several decades to ensure that no additional contaminants threaten the ground water supply. Through their ingenious plan working with their contacts at National Grid, the current owner of the plot, they planned an advanced phytoremediation system that would cleanse the soil over the next 10 years, costing less than $3.00 per square foot on the 100,000 square foot property.

While the various perennial species work to rejuvenate the soil, an impressive array of hundreds of greenhouses would grow anything from tomatoes and zucchini to herbs and leafy greens year-round. The crowning jewel upon the property would be the geodesic dome-shaped greenhouse visible from the nearby highway that would house a miniature botanical paradise and learning center.

Grid-Farm Park was by far the largest and most ambitious plan that had been demonstrated during the presentation.

Mott Haven Fresh Takes First Place

Upon completion of the presentations, the judges filed from the room to debate the victor. While the groups smirked and boasted to one another about their triumphs and shortcomings the rest of us waiting on the edge of our seats. Upon returning the verdict was announced. Team 3, Grid Farm Park had received an honorable mention and second place for the creative use of an otherwise forsaken plot of oil-stained land. Taking first place, however, was Team 2, “Mott Haven Fresh” for their integration of Fresh Direct’s shipping warehouse into a sustainable and profitable next-gen urban farm. The champions of the night had received the honor of knowing that their design prowess had impressed the experts, in addition to a monogrammed Associaton for Vertical Farming planner, and a place forever enshrined on Agritecture.com.

After the winners were announced and proper recognition was given, an informal discussion arose from the usual Q & A that follows this sort of event. A latecomer to the event introduced himself from the corner of the room and fired a debate that I feel has yet to be concluded. Rune Kongshaug, Architect and founder of Produktif, asked “how do you measure happiness?” Before you dive into the deeper meanings of your own lives, he was talking about the happiness of plants; is it simply the yield shorn from the stalks at the end of the season, or is there something deeper, another facet of cultivation that is too-often disregarded?

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Grow Methods and Happy Plants

Similar to the bar-jokes, each individual expert had put forward their own version of a ‘happy’ plant. Those extolling the virtues of hydroponic systems argued that the ideal growing medium delivering nutrients to the roots and a full leafy crown made them the happiest. Vertical farmers responded that the happiest plants were those that grew most efficiently. An aquaponics enthusiast explained the necessity of balance and precision monitoring of the equipment led to the happiest plants. Those influenced by corporate farming quipped that the happiest plants were those with a buyer. Playing devil’s advocate, Mr. Kongshaug brought up the one point that had been bothering me since the get-go, “What of the soil?”

Plants Grown in Soil

As if the land itself were an outdated relic of farming-gone-by, the suggestion was met with equal parts puzzled looks and professional chuckles. “Soil profile is only important in grapes for wine!” was the chief and initial response. With the acknowledgement that the soil imparted a fingerprint onto the wine itself, couldn’t you also argue that our lettuce and artichokes could benefit from a unique flavor all their own?

Based on the success of the initial Agritecture workshop, a second event has been planned in Las Vegas later this year. Keep an eye on Henry and Agritecture for all the latest updates and news in the world of urban vertical agriculture.


 From the Author

I believe the happiest plants are those which are grown naturally under the wide open sun, crowns to the sun and roots reaching deep into the earthy soil. The happiness of a plant can be seen if you look long enough, rapid growth, deep colorful leaves, and a taste as individual as a personality. I understand the argument that we’ve hit the upper limit of traditional monocultural farming practices, you can’t feed a city with fields alone, but farther and farther from the metropolises you and I continue to rely on factory-farmed produce clones. Farming does not need to rest in the hands of corporate giants. As this workshop clearly demonstrates the next generation is ready to work side-by-side with the community to grow “up” to meet the demands of the urban centers. Become a part of it today, grow some microgreens on your window sill, if they don’t taste any better right off the bat, the pride in doing it yourself certainly will. – Tom

Photos by Tom Ludorf.

How Hydroponic Gardening Leads the Farming Revolution

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Many of us are aware of the growing concern over our continued disconnect with our food supply. When I grew up, food production wasn’t really ever talked of. Carrots are grown in soil? It wasn’t something I’d ever even stopped to think of. As far as I was concerned, food was something that I got dragged to the grocery to pick out with my mom and then it magically appeared on my plate in an edible form. Where it all came from and how it was prepared wasn’t even an afterthought in my mind. Agriculture was regarded solely as an enterprise; from growing, to harvesting, to shipping, to selling, and all the way to consuming. Why would we concern ourselves with what essentially was a business we had no part of being involved in?

Many people my age or near my age are coming to the realization that this was a major gap in our upbringing. Yet, food is vital to our survival so why wasn’t it emphasized in our childhood education? Because as it turns out, our involvement in the food production process has a direct impact on our health as a society. It affects our social fabric, our wellbeing, and our environment. Not to mention food production accounts for a massive segment of our economy. This means that there are growing business opportunities for individuals interested in pursuing food production as a career.

We have countless reasons to become more involved in our food system. And this is where I believe hydroponic technology is a feasible solution in minimizing the disconnect and repositioning food at the forefront of our social priorities.

Systems like the Modern Spout, make it easy for urban dwellers to grow fresh herbs or leafy greens.

Hydroponics and the Farming Revolution

Hydroponic technology is scalable meaning soilless gardening can be performed on levels across the board from apartment gardens, to classroom projects, to entire commercial operations that can produce enough food to supply the community. The fact that we have several personal sized systems available to us today means that we’ve effectively made it easier for the average person to grow their own food.

Another important reason that hydroponics is a food system solution, is that its controlled environment nature means that you don’t need to get dirty to get growing. I believe that the perceived labor intensity and dirt factors have prevented many people my age from getting involved in food production. Well, automated indoor hydroponic systems eliminate both of those concerns.

A common trait of Generation Y is our need for instant gratification – it’s practically the hallmark of Millennials. Hydroponic gardening is a way to grow food faster than with the traditional soil-based method. You can read about why that is, here. The argument that growing food takes too long and going to the grocery store is just much easier can be assuaged by using hydroponic systems. According to some growers, you can produce lettuce in as little as three weeks with some hydroponic gardens.

Besides the obvious benefit that hydroponic systems produce food, they also provide urban dwellers with a therapeutic outlet as it’s been proven that surrounding ourselves with nature enhances our mental and physical wellbeing. This is important for not only the individuals in the Gen Y bracket, but for individuals of all demographics.

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Teams like Green Towers are the faces of the modern day farming revolution, bringing urban food production to the forefront of social issues.

The Faces of Modern Day Food Production

The delicious irony in all of this is that despite the fact that, in general, Generation Y began life with a noticeable disconnect from food production, it’s in fact this very generation that’s bringing hydroponic gardening to the forefront as a way to secure our food supply.

When I look around at many of the companies that are manufacturing these gardens, it’s clear that the majority of them are ambitious, passionate Millennials who want a better future for their young or unborn children. They’re health-conscious, environmentally-aware, and entrepreneurially-driven. These teams of urban gardeners are driving the beginning of a farming revolution. They are the faces of modern day food production and we couldn’t be more proud to share their stories.

Innovative Water Saving Methods in Hydroponics

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Many are still uncertain about the benefits of hydroponics and its water saving methods. Given hydroponic plants grow entirely in water one might think soilless gardening uses more water. Contrary to this perception, some hydroponic systems can actually save up to 10 times the amount of water used in traditional field crop production. The simple explanation is that the water is being used to feed the plants as opposed to the majority of it going directly into the ground where it won’t be used.

Hydroponic systems are closed-loop whereby they cycle their water supply that’s contained in a reservoir – meaning no run-off. The following are some further innovative water saving methods that can be implemented in hydroponic technology within a controlled environment:

Capture Plant Vapor

In order to stay cool, plants transpire – or release vapor into the air. Up to 95% of the water taken up by plants gets transpired as part of their natural water cycle. Typically in a controlled environment the water vapor will be sucked out via the ventilation system as in a greenhouse or grow room. But much like the same concept as heat recovery, a condenser is a water saving method that can recover water vapor from the air to prevent even further loss of water supply.

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Use Recycled Waste Water

Recycling waste water is a hot topic right now as many are still put off by the idea of reusing water from toilets. However, a fully-treated and purified water supply stemming from waste water just makes economic and environmental sense and is a valuable water saving method. In controlled growing environments, using recycled waste water from treated sewage is a very efficient means of operation – especially in California greenhouses which must look to maximize their efficiency now more than ever.

Collect Rainwater

Rainwater is a precious and overlooked resource that’s also tremendously underutilized. Buildings that are home to indoor agriculture such as greenhouses, plant factories, and other controlled environment agriculture facilities are the perfect untapped resources for collecting rainwater runoff and recycling it into a usable water supply for irrigation.

What Water Means to Food Security

Achieving our goals of food security and sustainable local food production is largely dependent on our ability to innovate news ways of protecting our resources like water and energy. Both of these are critical components in growing our food more sustainably. Innovation and technological advancement in these areas will become increasingly valuable as cities move towards this model of agriculture.

Proper Application of Co2 in Hydroponics

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When plants grow in soil outdoors, they naturally receive sufficient amounts of C02. However, in indoor hydroponics, your plants aren’t naturally exposed to the same amounts of C02. This means that C02 will need to be added to your hydroponic system in order to support the best growing conditions desired by your plants.

Before deciding you need to add Co2 to your system, you should ensure that all other growing conditions are in tip-top shape. This means proper lighting, ventilation and airflow, spacing between crops, and the current nutrient levels all working together in your system. If none of those conditions are properly established, then adding C02 will be a waste as the plants are likely strictly in survival mode.

How to Measure Levels of Co2 in Hydroponics Systems

In order to determine whether or not you even need to increase Co2 levels in your hydroponic garden you will need to take a measurement. Measuring the levels of C02 in hydroponics is an important step in ensuring your garden is functioning at its optimal levels. To measure the levels of Co2 in hydroponics, the more intermediate to advanced grower can use a Co2 monitoring system. These units measure the amount of of Co2 in ppm (parts per million) which is the unit of measurement for carbon dioxide. Co2 controllers and monitors can be purchased at your local hydroponics or indoor gardening supply store. You can also order them online from ehydroponics.com. The average or recommended levels of Co2 in hydroponics systems should be between 1,000 and 2,000 ppm.

For beginners you may alternatively want to use this Co2 calculator which will indicate estimated Co2 levels based on the size of your grow room and other factors.

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Active Air Co2 System maintains Co2 levels for indoor gardening. Image via EcoGrow.com

How to Increase Levels of Co2 in Hydroponics Systems

After measuring the levels of Co2 in your hydroponics system, you will know whether or not it needs to be increased. If your Co2 levels are below the recommended average then you can boost carbon dioxide with Co2 enrichment methods. There are Co2 monitoring systems available which will automatically boost Co2 levels if they fall below a certain ppm level. These units can also be put on a timer so that they only dispense C02 during the day/lighting cycle as this is, of course, the time when photosynthesis occurs.

Read more about Co2 enrichment methods for small, medium, and commercial sized grow rooms.Feature Image: Proper Co2 levels in your hydroponic garden, produce deep green leaves on your plants. Image via Food Wise.