Tomatoes are one of the best known crops in the world, and that classification makes it a high value product. Tomatoes have been produced hydroponically for sometime now. This article will trace some of the advantages of producing tomatoes with the hydroponics farming system. Hydroponics is a soil-less farming approach designed for healthier, cheaper and ultimately surplus crop production. It requires a technical assembly that shields the crops from pesticides infection, and from the harshness of the weather. or healthier farming experience. Tomatoes are naturally easy to cultivate, because they are able to survive in abusive environment.
The economics of growing without soil
So it makes economic sense to employ hydroponics technology in tomato production, because it enhances the natural strength inherent in tomatoes. On natural environments tomatoes would mature to fruition and be harvested in about 4 months, but hydroponics can reduce that period of time significantly. It is possible to have a multi-harvesting season when adequate care is paid to the tomatoes.
With daily care and regular nutrition the potential for continuous year round production is entirely practical. Because of the enormous advantage of hydroponics over soil production, tomatoes cultivated by hydroponics are found to be bigger and sumptuous, and naturally more flavorful. Since nutrition is better focused, and directly applied to the crop, the result is superior product, entirely. With proportional amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium fertilizers, the farmer could expect a high return in investment. Since all of the soil pathogens are effectively eliminated by indoor farming, the potential for high return could easily double.
Though the operation may be expensive to initiate, but the most encouraging aspect of it is that some consumers are willing to pay up to three times the regular price of tomatoes in order to experience the special flavor found in home grown (hydroponics) products. And for an individual who is simply interested in growing to satisfy a need for that great taste, it may not cost very much to start a small home operation, and that individual retains the option to grow at any period of the year.
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Hydroponic gardening or soilless gardening can be defined as growing plants in nutrient solutions, rather than using soil as a growth medium. At times, inert medium such as gravel, perlite or rockwool is used in soilless gardening. Usually, hydroponics is practiced as indoor gardening. The necessary plant growth factors like temperature, light and humidity are maintained in controlled conditions, so as to promote the growth and development of plants.
For better efficiency, artificial lighting systems called grow lights are used to supplement the scarcity of sunlight. These grow lights emit electromagnetic spectrum similar to the sun rays, which enhances the photosynthesis of the plants. Previously, metal halide and high pressure sodium are used as hydroponics lighting systems. Though these grow lights provide an ideal light spectrum for the plant growth, they generate excess heat and consume large amount of electricity. Thus, these traditional grow lights are very expensive to maintain. A more energy efficient lighting system is the LED (light-emitting diode) grow light.
In recent times, LED grow lights are becoming very popular for hydroponic gardening due to various advantages. One of the major benefits of this lighting system is low cost of maintenance. The technology of LED grow lights is to emit only the color spectrum required for the plant photosynthesis. Hence, they consume less amount of electricity in comparison to the traditional lighting system and other grow lights. On an average, a LED grow light consumes less than 5 watts of power for operation.
In LED grow lights, wide-spectrum red light and narrow-spectrum blue light of specific wavelengths are configured in a particular manner. The red spectrum supplements natural sun rays, whereas the blue spectrum makes an ideal light for the plant growth. Thus, 600W LED grow lights provide ideal light conditions for the better growth of all types of plants and/or crops. In addition, this lighting system contains no toxic mercury, which is used in fluorescent lights and metallic vapor.
There are several models of LED lights, each suitable for various types of plants and their successive stages. For example, 90W UFO LED grow lights with 3W chip are designed for vegetative growth, whereas some are specially configured to promote flowering and/or blooming. Speaking about the installation, LED grow lights should be hanged or mounted in hydroponic gardens, as per the manufacturer’s guidelines. While using LED grow lights, the height should be maintained in such a way that it covers the maximum plantation area.
Another advantage of 300W LED grow lights is the less production of heat. With minimum heat production, water requirement also reduces due to less evaporation. The problem of high temperature root damage and plant dehydration is thus solved by using LED grow lights. Hence, with this lighting system, there is no need for installation of fans or cooling ducts.
As this grow lights are available readily with plugs, no ballast is required for the initiation and regulation of the lights. Thus, there is no problem for ballast burning and/or replacement, which is so in case of fluorescent bulbs. LED grow lights are long-lasting; a superior quality may last for 10-12 years. Overall, LED grow lights are easier to maintain and cheaper than other lighting systems used for hydroponic gardening.