Tag: Hydroponic

FarmBabyz

New farm babyZ Program Cultivates Growers As Young as 2 Years Old

“farm babyZ is causing a groundswell by developing our next generation of sustainable urban growers,” says farm babyZ Founder Recie Robertson.  “We want to make hydroponic indoor growing available for all.”

Farm Babyz 2farm babyZ LLC, a STEM.org Reviewed ™ organization, has created and packaged an educational hydroponic growers curriculum and American-made merchandise/grow kit for early childhood development agencies and other educators working with children between the ages of two to five years old.

As outlined in its mission statement, “The farm babyZ LLC pre-STEM program is committed to developing an academic understanding of science and agricultural development.  To achieve this goal, we support student learning by offering a concise and elementary program designed to help all preschoolers meet the Stem academic standards.”

Farm Babyz3

 

 

“We created farm babyZ with food deserts in mind,” explains Robertson.  “In these areas, we’re trying to help change unhealthy eating habits brought on by land restrictions for growing everything from fruits to vegetables.  By building a community through educating  our youths and connecting people around life-giving plants  –from 2-5 years old – on up to the 92+age shut-in population – we hope to reap countless therapeutic benefits from family bonding, to mentor relationships and facilitate cross generational interaction.”

For more information on farm babyZ, contact Recie Robertson at 313.737.8115 or recie@ONE5Consulting.com 

 

NY Sunworks at INdoor Ag-con

NY Sun Works – Supporting the Next Generation of Urban Farmers and Innovators

NY SunworksFor more than 10 years, NY Sun Works, a NYC-based non-profit organization, has used hydroponic technology to teach K-12th grade students about science and sustainability. Their first hydroponic farm-classroom opened in 2010 at a Manhattan public school.  Since then, they’ve grown to nearly 200 schools across the five boroughs of NYC and metro NJ, enabling over 65,000 students in 2021 alone to learn biology, ecology, chemistry and environmental science concepts – all while growing fresh produce to share with their families and school community.

To date, NY Sun Works has installed more than 700 hydroponic systems in school farm-classrooms and greenhouses.  And this number is growing quickly as the non-profit is set to build at least one new hydroponic classroom every week through 2022 – and demand for the program is only growing.  Students plant and grow a wide variety of crops, not only exposing them to critical hands-on science and sustainability topics, but also to new and nutritious vegetables and herbs. As students bring their harvest home to families, they share with them how delicious and fresh vegetables can be when they are grown hydroponically and eaten soon after harvest.

Now, NY Sun Works is introducing its new high school career readiness program in Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). Recognizing the need for high school students to have direct-to-work options – and the growth of indoor farming as a green industry in NYC and other urban areas – the program provides high school students with marketable technical skills to enter the job market directly after graduation or to continue with further training in a post-secondary academic program.  The program launched in 3 Brooklyn high schools in the 2021-22 school year with pilot funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and will expand to other schools and boroughs next year.

This is an exciting time for urban farmers in NYC, and NY Sun Works has been a key driver of new growth and development in this sector. Last fall, NY Sun Works Executive Director Manuela Zamora was appointed to Eric Adams’ Food Policy Transition Team where she worked alongside industry leaders and community farmers to develop plans for the administration to help grow urban agriculture in NYC. As then-Brooklyn Borough President, Mayor Adams stated in 2021, “Urban agriculture has the potential to revolutionize our urban landscape and play a significant role in an equitable recovery process…Programs such as NY Sun Works give high school students technical skills required in the emerging agricultural industry…We should seek to scale this up further.”

NY Sun Works is excited to launch this innovative career readiness program and to help build a greener NYC.  For more on our CEA certification program and to learn more about NY Sun Works, please contact: Megan Nordgrén, Director of Program Development: megan@nysunworks.org.

 Join Sidsel Robards, Co-Founder, the Greenhouse Project, NY Sunworks for our Indoor Ag-Con 2022 Panel: Cultivating The Workforce Pipeline: Educating the Next Gen Farmers.  Learn more & register today

Going Mainstream | Q & A With Babylon Micro-Farms CEO Alexander Olesen

Alexander Olesen - Babylon Co-FounderCEOFrom the beginning, Babylon Micro-Farms CEO Alexander Olesen has sought to make vertical farming accessible to mainstream markets. Combining subscription services with advanced technology and innovative equipment, the Babylon Micro-Farms “all-in-one” farming experience does just that for a growing customer base, including universities, hospitals, restaurants, resorts, senior care facilities and more.

We had the chance to catch up with Alexander to learn more about his innovative company and exciting plans for the future in this month’s CEO Q &A.

Can you share a little about how and why you got started, including the story behind the name of your company?

We started out exploring applications for small scale hydroponic systems in refugee camps while studying at the University of Virginia. Through that process, we built prototype systems capable of feeding a family and observed that the user experience was complicated and commercially available automation was prohibitively expensive, which represented a fundamental constraint for the adoption of small scale vertical farms.

We founded the company to miniaturize the semi-automation found in commercial-scale farms, at a fraction of the cost and designed it to be controlled via the cloud to allow for aggregated data collection.Today we’ve built and deployed that underlying technology on our fleet of distributed Micro-Farms in North America. We’re just getting started in our journey to apply our underlying technology to different vertical farming systems and in doing so expand the market for sustainable indoor farming.

We decided to call the company Babylon to pay homage to the hanging gardens of Babylon, one of the first known aquaculture systems and one of the ancient wonders of the world.

Congrats on securing $4 million in grant and investment funding earlier this year. Tell us what this means for your Babylon IQ software program and expansion plans.

Babylon Micro-Garms Data MiningWe’re accelerating the commercialization of indoor farming service with hundreds of Micro-Farms being installed in foodservice operations across North America. We’re confident in our technology’s ability to deliver an unparalleled growing experience and it’s exciting to see the data coming in from our growing base of happy customers.

What do you hope to achieve with the partnership you’ve entered into with collegiate food service company, Harvest Table Culinary Group.

Cafeteria Babylon Mico-Farm

We’ve built a tremendous partnership with Harvest Table Culinary Group and they’re one of the most innovative culinary teams in the US. They’re pioneering a new level of responsible, local food sourcing at college campuses across the country and we’re proud to support them in their efforts to inspire a new generation of healthy consumers.

You’re also working with senior communities and hospitals. What advantages and goals do you have for these sectors and are there other markets you’re looking at?

There are organizations of all different types that are demanding their foodservice operations source higher-quality ingredients and reduce their environmental footprint. The technology we’ve developed and the service we’ve built on top of it enables these organizations to literally source food on-site, all year round, without any of the headaches associated with outdoor farming.

It’s a new way of doing things and it’s amazing to see hospital patients, senior citizens, students, and many other groups adopting Micro-Farms as a means of sourcing the highest quality produce and growing it right in front of the end consumer. The benefit of our remote management platform and our growing customer base is that the data is flowing back to us in abundance.

We’re gaining a very granular understanding of how our customers operate, what they consume, and, critically, how we can help to have a better experience. These insights are driving our success in the institutional foodservice space and they’ll allow us to expand into adjacent markets in the near future.

Where do you see your company 5 or 10 years from now – what’s your ultimate goal?

Bablylon Micro-Farms PlatformOur goal has always been to make vertical farming accessible to mainstream markets. We’re proving that it’s commercially viable with our foodservice partners and simultaneously we’re seeing the rapid expansion of the local food movement that’s driving a ton of innovations in the CEA space.

We’ve developed our technology and service specifically for small scale on-site vertical farms and we’re now pioneering an “intel inside” model to enable new vertical farming systems to be successful.

In 5 to 10 years we are going to see a plethora of on-site systems for different markets and crop types and we hope they’ll all be powered by BabylonIQ.

To learn more about Babylon Micro-Farms:

P: 877.589.2884
W: www.babylonmicrofarms.com
E: info@babylonmicrofarms.com

Babylon Micro-Farms Video Resources

 

Kurt M. Aken Joins AmplifiedAg to Lead Expansion of its Vertical Roots Business

In a sign that vertical farming is reaching an inflection point, AmplifiedAg hires produce industry veteran to lead growth for its flagship brand, Vertical Roots

Indoor Ag-Con 2021 Exhibitor AmplifiedAg, Inc. a leading platform in the fast-growing category of hydroponic vertical farming – announces the hiring of industry veteran Kurt M. Aken to lead the growth of its Vertical Roots brand. Aken joins as Executive Vice President, Business Development following a successful 24-year tenure with two of the most recognized consumer produce brands in the United States – Fresh Express and Chiquita Brands International. Aken will be focused on supporting and extending the Vertical Roots hydroponic produce brand, which is currently sold in more than 1,700 retail locations in the Southeast United States.

“I, like many others in the produce industry, have been watching the evolution of vertical farming with intense interest,” said Aken. “Vertical farming represents an important part of the future of sustainable food supply and produce capacity, and I’m inspired by AmplifiedAg’s approach and leadership.”

“AmplifiedAg’s best-in-class technology, modular and scalable construction capability,and unrivaled growing expertise is the foundation of Vertical Roots success, and makes the most reliable partner for retailers and wholesalers looking for the best produce possible,” Aken added.

Vertical Roots currently operates hydroponic container farms in Charleston, SC, Columbia, SC and Atlanta,GA, with more farm expansions on the horizon. Since January 2020, Vertical Roots has grown its retail footprint 272% and now offers its lettuce in approximately 1,700 grocery stores across the Southeast. The hydroponic produce line includes a variety of salad mixes and Green Butter, Green Oak, and Green Leaf Living Lettuces. The brand also recently introduced one of the first ever hydroponic varieties of large-leaf Romaine.

Vertical Roots produce is grown in hydroponic farms constructed from repurposed shipping containers, and leverages AmplifiedAg’s proprietary software and hardware to optimize growing cycles and insure premier quality and consistency. Farms are built to USDA and FDA food safety standards, and the hydroponic growing method means no soil, no pesticides, and more nutritious, clean, longer lasting produce.

During Aken’s career at Fresh Express and Chiquita Brands, he led the corporate account team that serviced leading grocery retailers across the United States. Aken was responsible for cultivating new business opportunities in nontraditional
produce channels including foodservice, club and drug and discount store segments, as well as theme parks and cruise lines.

Andrew Hare, co-founder and general manager of Vertical Roots, said, “Kurt’s extensive industry experience, including retail and customer insights, consumer trends, and supply chain management, will help us further accelerate the growth of our Vertical Roots brand. He is a recognized leader in the category and we are proud that he has chosen to join our company and work with us to advance our mission.”

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About AmplifiedAg, Inc.
AmplifiedAg, Inc.™ is a leader in the indoor agriculture category focused on empowering a scalable, resilient, and sustainable food supply and providing global populations with access to clean, fresh, and healthy produce. The company manufactures modular and scalable indoor farms using refurbished shipping containers and advanced hydroponic systems controlled by its proprietary hardware and seed-to- sale SaaS-based.

AmplifiedAg’s flagship brand Vertical Roots is the largest hydroponic container farm in the world and currently sells its produce through more than 1,700 grocery stores and numerous distributors.

In addition to powering its flagship brand Vertical Roots, AmplifiedAg provides holistic indoor farming solutions to sustainably grow and distribute food anywhere in the world. Learn more at www.amplifiedaginc.com.

ZipGrow Expands to New Facility, Inks Deal with Sodexo

Indoor Ag-Con 2021 Exhibitor ZipGrow has expanded its footprint, moving from leased premises to its own building at the corner of Cumberland and Seventh Street in Cornwall, Ontario Canada. The new building more than doubles the amount of space available to the manufacturer of the world’s most installed vertical hydroponic equipment.Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor ZipGrow

“Demand for our products continues to soar,” says Eric Lang, President of ZipGrow. “The new building allows us to be more efficient while at the same time giving us room to grow in the future.”

Growth is on the menu at ZipGrow, with the company launching an innovative partnership with Sodexo to introduce sustainable growing systems to facilities throughout Canada and the United States.

“Having been installed throughout the world over the past decade, our system enables growers, both big and small, to access fresh produce no matter where they are located”, explains Mr. Lang. “We are excited to move ahead with this new partnership with Sodexo. Together we will be able to introduce sustainable food to Sodexo locations throughout North America.”

ZipGrow technology is a patented system that utilizes both hydroponic growing systems and vertical planes to maximize production volume within a small footprint. Primarily growing leafy greens such as lettuce and kale, along with herbs and small fruiting crops such as strawberries, ZipGrow systems will be installed in Sodexo locations including educational institutions, conference facilities, and corporate food service centres.

“This new partnership with ZipGrow not only enables us to reduce our carbon emissions of distance traveled for food source, onsite food waste, and packaging requirements, but also to introduce innovative technology to our facilities and team members”, said Normand St-Gelais, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo Canada.

About ZipGrow

ZipGrow is an international leader in indoor, vertical farming technology. The company’s flagship product, the ZipGrow Tower, is a core component of many of the world’s most innovative farms; from indoor hydroponic warehouses to vertical aquaponic greenhouses and high-density container farms

Story sourced from  from Choosecornwall.ca  

New Sustainability Partnership Launched Between Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow and Sodexo Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor NewsOn March 11, 2021  two international industry leaders, Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc., launched a first of its kind partnership to develop more sustainable local food chains throughout North America.

Sodexo, world leader in Quality of Life Services, has joined forces with ZipGrow Inc., the manufacturer of the world’s most installed vertical hydroponic equipment. Together they wll develop a unique program to introduce sustainable growing systems to facilities throughout Canada and the United States of America.

Introducing Innovative  Technology

One of Sodexo’s primary goals is to ensure all our operations are industry leading from a sustainability perspective. “This new partnership with ZipGrow Inc. not only enables us to reduce our carbon emissions of distance traveled for food source, onsite food waste, and packaging requirements, but also to introduce innovative technology to our facilities and team members”, said Normand St-Gelais, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Sodexo Canada.

ZipGrow Systems To Be Installed At Sodexo Locations

ZipGrow™ technology is a patented system that utilizes both hydroponic growing systems and vertical planes to maximize production volume within a small footprint. Primarily growing leafy greens such as lettuce and kale, along with herbs and small fruiting crops such as strawberries, ZipGrow systems will be installed in Sodexo locations including educational institutions, conference facilities, and corporate food service centres.

“Having been installed throughout the world over the past decade, our system enables growers, both big and small, to access fresh produce no matter where they are located”, explains Eric Lang, President of ZipGrow Inc. “We are excited to move ahead with this new partnership with Sodexo. Together we will be able to introduce sustainable food to Sodexo locations throughout North America.”

“As a Chef, we are always looking for ways to introduce the freshest possible produce to our kitchens”, said Chef Davide Del Brocco, Sustainability Manager, Sodexo Canada. “By having a grow system on site, we can now not only customize our produce to meet our upcoming needs, but we can also now harvest fresh greens and use them that same day.”Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor ZipGrow

“Having like-minded partners like ZipGrow who understand what is important to us and who are aligned with our values and goals is crucial in working together for a Better Tomorrow.” said Andrea Cantin, Corporate Social Responsibility Coordinator, Sodexo Canada. With Sodexo and ZipGrow Inc. both having company values strongly embedded in sustainability, this new partnership will see this innovative agriculture technology being introduced to multiple Sodexo facilities in Canada and the US.

About Sodexo

Sodexo delivers a wide range of customized solutions, designed to optimize work and living environments. The company has been providing food and facilities management services in Canada for over 40 years, with a focus on enhancing safety, work process and well-being. A market leader in Canada, Sodexo has been recognized as a top employer for the past seven consecutive years. Sodexo is proud to have created the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation, an independent charitable organization that has raised over $3 million to fight hunger and donated more than one million meals to at-risk youth across Canada since 2007. It is included in the CAC 40, FTSE 4 Good and DJSI indices.

Key figures (as November 2020)
420,000 employees
1st in its sector in both the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) and the 2020 SAM sustainability yearbook
64 countries
100 million consumers served daily

About ZipGrow Inc.

ZipGrow Inc. is an international leader in indoor, vertical farming technology. Our flagship product, the ZipGrow™ Tower, is a core component of many of the world’s most innovative farms; from indoor hydroponic warehouses to vertical aquaponic greenhouses and and high-density container farms. For more information contact hello@zipgrow.com or at 1-855-ZIPGROW.

Sananbio Ark Climate-Controlled Mobile Farm

tIndoor Ag-Con exhibitor SANANBIO, a leading vertical farming solution provider,  announces the availability of its climate controlled mobile farm for growers globally – Sananbio Ark.

Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor Sananbio Lalunches Sananbio Ark Mobile Farm
SANANBIO ARK HIGHLIGHTS

“3,300-4,400 lbs of cucumbers, 7,700 lbs of arugula, or 8,000 lbs of lettuce. These are the proven annual yields that we’re confident to announce,” said Zhan Zhuo, co-founder and CEO of SANANBIO. “We ‘produce’ turnkey farms and this one is mobile.”

The Sananbio Ark adapts to any climate thanks to its thermal insulation system. the system has   a thermal conductivity below 0.024w/(m·K). One of the mobile farms operated as usual in a coldness of -40 degree Fahrenheit in northern China. This  sustained local communities with local produce at a reduced carbon footprint. It  is shocking to find that our food travels 1,500 miles on average before reaching our plate.  In addition, the CO2 generated, and the nutrients lost during the transportation, can’t be good for the planet or human beings. That’s why local food is advocated.

“The ready-to-use farm is the solution we offer to regions where the environment is too harsh to support stable agricultural production,” said Zhan.

To streamline the farming experience, the designer simplifies the start-up procedures to a single plug-in motion.  Simply power it up through a connector on the exterior and then even hydroponic beginners are set to grow. Moreover, growers can monitor and control farm metrics simply by moving fingertips on their phone.

“By simplifying modern agriculture, we offer more farming opportunities for kids and urban dwellers. We have a mobile farm deployed in a Malaysian suburb where kids from the neighborhood frequent the farm for hands-on hydroponic experience. It’s a perfect bonding time when families go there to pick their own salad ingredients. As a Photobiotech company, we’re nurturing a new generation of growers,” said Zhan.

For more info about the mobile farm, please visit www.sananbio.com/ark.

About SANANBIO

SANANBIO is a joint-venture by Sanan Optoelectronics, one of the world’s largest LED manufacturers, and the Institute of Botany of Chinese Academy of Sciences, a leading institute in plant science. Comprised of LED experts and plant scientists, SANANBIO is able to provide simple CEA solutions for growers globally. The RADIX, a Reddot award winner, has been widely endorsed by growers in more than twenty countries.

OASIS Grower Solutions Introduces Fortify Liquid Nutrient Supplement

Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor Oasis Launches FortifyIndoor Ag-Con Exhibitor Oasis Grower Solutions introduces Fortify, a liquid nutrient supplement, designed to optimize the growth performance and increase harvest weights while reducing production time by up to 20%.Fortify is an amino acid based nutrient supplement developed through extensive research and trials. Use of Fortify improves nutrient uptake and reduces stress at all stages of production. Fortify can be applied to leafy greens (lettuce, herbs, and micro greens) produced using Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), Deep or Shallow water culture and aeroponic culture.Fortify is best applied using a dosing system in conjunction with a complete fertilizer program.“Fortify is a way for growers to maximize the utilization of their production space. Growers want as many turns as possible.” said Bill Riffey, Global Director of Oasis Grower Solutions. When used as a nutrient supplement, Fortify has the potential of reducing the production time providing up to one additional crop cycle annually.”

Oasis Grower Solutions provides propagation products and post-harvest care solutions for greenhouse produced ornamental and food crops. Oasis® Grower Solutions products include, plant propagation Rootcubes®, Terra Plug, Fertiss®, Horticubes®, Oasis® HydroPRO System, Hydroponic Fertilizer, Soax® wetting agent, disease control and greenhouse cleaners.

For more information about Oasis Grower Solutions and their products, contact Bill Riffey at WRiffey@smithersoasis.com or visit http://new.oasisgrowersolutions.com/fortify/.

About Smithers-Oasis

Smithers-Oasis’ global expertise of the plant and flower business stretches from propagation to presentation. With locations in 20 countries and resources around the world, Smithers-Oasis manufactures floral foam products, postharvest products, growing media and flower arranging supplies for the floriculture industry. OASIS® and Floralife® are two of the company’s most recognized brands founded in 1954 and 1938, respectively. With more than 60 years of experience with foaming technology, Smithers-Oasis also develops specialty foams for a wide variety of applications including packaging, impression, absorption and molding. The company’s driving purpose is “to help people express and experience emotion by adding value to flowers and plants.” Smithers-Oasis, a privately owned company, is headquartered in Kent, Ohio, USA.

Urban Fresh Farms Launches New ZipGrow Facility In Dubai


ZipGrow_UrbanFreshFarms_Dubai_2_IndoorAg-ConIndoor Ag-Con
Exhibitor News From ZipGrow:

With more than 80% of food being imported into the UAE, Urban Fresh Farms, Dubai’s newest indoor vertical hydroponic farm from ZipGrow™, is doing its part to contribute to a more sustainable local food system.

A 1,000 square foot ZipGrow™ ZipFarm™ was recently installed in Urban Fresh Farm’s facility in the Industrial center of Dubai. In addition, it will soon be producing pesticide free fresh herbs and leafy greens for the local market. Urban Fresh Farms is a new company, founded by people who always had an interest in sustainable agriculture. But, they thought they did not have the knowledge or financial backing to get into the industry.

Vertical Farming In Dubai

“We, as a group, always found vertical farming really interesting. The team knew there would be a strong demand for it in the Dubai area”, said Scott Naude, co-founder of Urban Fresh Farms. “As a result, we were hesitant to jump in at first.  But, the combination of ZipGrow’s technology and ongoing training, the increasing demand for higher quality and fresh produce, and the Middle East’s booming tech sector all aligned perfectly for us to begin this venture.”

As with the rest of the world, COVID-19’s impact on the local supply chain has also impacted the Dubai area. It has caused food selections to be  limited in local grocery stores during the peak of lockdowns.

“Around the world we are hearing from all our growers that food retailers are actively looking for local food goods to supply,” explains Eric Lang, President of ZipGrow Inc. “We are also hearing from government’s around the world, including in the UAE, who want to actively seek out ways to reduce supply chain lengths to ensure a more consistent and high-quality food stream.”

Hydroponic Growing In the Middle East

Hydroponic growing, as an industry, is still recently new to the Middle East region. The UAE government is a leader in the Middle East region, and in 2018 launched a National Food Security Strategy 2051, led by the Minister of State for Food and Water Security, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri. This strategy aims to increase local food production in the UAE.  What’s more, it simultaneously maximizing the use of modern technologies to bring fresh and sustainable food to the region.

“There’s also a demand for healthy eating options. This  has given rise to a number of excellent meal plan services and  all-in-one meal ingredient boxes.  IThis is creating a need for the best, freshest vegetables to be readily available” adds Naude. “We’re planning on starting out growing primarily herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander. We hope to have our first crop available in December.”

Urban Fresh Farm and ZipGrow Inc. plan to use this new facility to showcase this vertical farming technology to the UAE and wider Middle East region. Naude adds; “We’re excited about our ongoing partnership with ZipGrow Inc. There is so much educational content available, as well as a fantastic team. So even for someone like myself who is new to all of this, ZipGrow provides all the tools needed to get growing.”

Look for more Indoor Ag-Con Exhibitor News From ZipGrow on this page. And visit  www.ZipGrow.com and www.UrbanFreshFarms.ae for more information. 

ABOUT ZIPGROW

ZipGrow Inc. is an international leader in indoor, vertical farming technology. Our flagship product, the ZipGrow™ Tower, is a core component of many of the world’s most innovative farms; from indoor hydroponic warehouses to vertical aquaponic greenhouses and high-density container farms.

Hydroponic Seedling Propagation | 5 Tips For Success

Hydroponic Seedling Propagation Indoor Ag-Conversations“The only way to achieve high quality, uniform crops is to start with high quality, uniform seedlings,” said Joe Swartz, vice president, AmHydro. As  moderator of the “Hydroponic Seedling Propagation” Indoor Ag-Conversations webinar hosted by Indoor Ag-Con summer, Joe and panelists John Jackson, SIGS, Nick Green, Nick Greens Grow Team  and Dr. Vijay Rapaka, Smithers-Oasis, took a deep  dive into the topic, sharing a wide range of tips and innovations with the audience.

During the program, Dr.  Rapaka, Ph.D., Corporate Research Manager, Smithers-Oasis,  zeroed in on 5 critical tips for propagation success — regardless of the type of growing system you’re using:

#1. LIGHT

We know light is important for photosynthesis. It is also key for photomorphogenesis (the development of form and structure in plants which is affected by light).  Once the seed cracks, he says, you need to focus on proper light intensity and light duration. You cannot ignore one or the other.  Otherwise you will end up with a number of issues. These can range from elongation to yellowing leaves suffering from lack of chlorophyll development.

#2. WATERING

Frequency and duration are key, says Rapaka, whether you are running a multi-million-dollar facility controlled with a Priva system or a smaller operation using a Rainbird control system. Since most of us are growing crops like leafy greens and tomato seedlings rather than rice, you only need to water once a day or every other day. You do not have to bombard or flood your plants multiple times a day. The plant quality suffers because the roots can get excess water, which is not good for seedling growth.

#3. NUTRIENTS

To be clear, Rapaka is separating watering from nutrients.  He disagrees with old hydroponics textbooks that suggest nutrients are not required until day 3 or 4.  When growing crops in controlled environments where, for example, you’re providing light and CO2, if you do not have the right nutrients, you’re headed for trouble.  You do not have to put the plants on a restricted diet he says, using human gluten free diets as an example. But, as soon as the seed cracks, he adds, it needs to see nutrients. Regardless of the media you’re using, make sure you are treating with nutrients starting with the very first watering.

#4. PROPAGATION

Sometimes people think if they’re planting really high density, they can go with a smaller footprint or smaller plug size to save a few cents.  Rapaka explains that you will lose dollars in the long run here because once  leaves start emerging, there should be no shading effect.  If there is, propagation quality suffers.

#5. TIMING

Turns out, timing is, indeed, everything.  You have to do the right things at the right time, Rapaka explains.  It’s wonderful to grow beautiful, quality seedlings, but it’s critical to transplant them at the right time.  If plants get overcrowded or rootbound, you have a transplant delay. Whatever  quality you are achieving at the young plant stage will not be transferred once you transplant.

During his presentation, Rapaka also shared updates about Fortify, Smithers-Oasis’ new liquid nutrient supplement, designed to optimize the growth performance and increase harvest weights while reducing production time by up to 20%.

In short, said Rapaka, hydroponic production is sexy, propagation is not … and it is often neglected.  Everything starts with propagation.  You’ve got to start strong to end strong, he adds.

The entire webinar, as well as many others in our new Indoor Ag-Conversations series, are available on demand. Simply visit our Indoor Ag-Conversations page to access the recording.

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