Review: Hydroponics Workshop Featuring Guest Speaker Dr. Lynette Morgan
We recently hosted our first hydroponic workshop in our brand new Technology Center and it was a great success! We featured Dr. Lynette Morgan of SUNTEC International Hydroponic Consultants in New Zealand and gave an excellent presentation that we had been collaborating on with her for the past few months. The attendees each received an 82 page workbook full of useful information and details that Dr. Morgan wanted to share with everyone about her years of practice and study in the hydroponic industry. This workbook makes a great reference to consult when questions arise in your own hydroponic operation. We are very lucky to be teamed up with Dr. Morgan. Her wisdom and insights have been invaluable. The seminar was packed with helpful knowledge and awesome pictures from hydroponic growing setups from all over the world.
We had a very diverse group of growers attend, from the novice to those who are currently growing hydroponically for market. We even had “fish farmers” currently growing Tilapia for market. These gentlemen wanted to learn how to diversify their operation and “marry” the two systems. The fish emulsifications feed the plants–no fertilizer necessary–brilliant! Our guests last Wednesday are changing the way that our families are consuming food for the better.
We kicked off the day with a quick overview of FarmTek complete with a virtual tour! We then dove right in with an introduction and history of hydroponic growing. Did you know that the hanging gardens of Babylon were hydroponic? The Aztec Indians also had a system of growing in rafts anchored in lake waters. Their descendants are still practicing this means of growing today! We covered environmental controls, and various methods of hydroponic culture. We also learned the ins and outs of salad and herb crops, fruiting crops and microgreen production. We talked about marketing your produce and also covered pest/disease control. We covered so much information in such a short time! It was a great learning tool for everyone who attended and I am very confident that everyone left with a greater level of understanding of hydroponic growing.
For lunch, along with boneless chicken breast sandwiches and homemade potato soup, we featured an awesome hydroponic salad mix fresh from our greenhouses. Not only was this salad colorful, it was delicious and nutritious!
After lunch we took a tour of our hydroponic greenhouse and set up three hands-on sessions to allow people to really experience hydroponic growing. At one hands-on station, people practiced trellising greenhouse tomatoes. We train ours in a “racetrack” style to allow for easy harvesting. Next at that station, we demonstrated how we pollinate our greenhouse tomatoes mechanically for increased yields. Watch this video to see how we do it. Lastly, at station one we discussed our Hanna 5000 fertigation systems . These easy-to-use systems take the guesswork out of automated fertilization and pH control.
At hands-on station two, we demonstrated various harvesting methods for lettuce and herbs and proper handling procedures. “Living lettuce” is becoming very popular and can have a shelf life of up to 18 days! Each of our guests got to take what they harvested home to enjoy with their families.
At hands-on station three, we talked about seed starting for hydroponic growing with Grodan Starter Plugs, Standard 1020 Flats, Redi-Heat Propagation Mats, Clear Humidity Domes and our Link 4 system. The Link 4 is the “main brain” of our hydroponic range. It is a huge labor saver and takes out all of the guess work with our environmental controls.
As you can see, we had a full day of education, networking, and hands-on learning. Everyone left that afternoon with new ideas, resources and friends in the industry (not to mention fresh hydroponic produce!) .
Check back often to see when our next hydroponic workshop will be and plan to attend. Our next workshop will be on April 4th, featuring our Fodder-Pro Feed System. Come learn how hydroponic fodder production can work for you. The Fodder-Pro System also works for microgreen and sprout production!