Learn how to grow plants without soil at hydroponic farming workshop

LIVE OAK, Fla. — Do you want to know how to grow plants without soil? More and more, people want to start a hydroponic farming business. To meet that demand, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host workshops this month to get you going.

This marks the ninth straight year that Extension faculty at the UF/IFAS Suwanee Valley Agricultural Extension Center will host the workshops. If you are interested, you can attend March 13-14 or March 17-18 at the center, 8202 County Road 417, Live Oak, Florida.

“We had great demand for information coming from growers and potential growers,” said center director and UF/IFAS Extension specialist Bob Hochmuth. “Although many growers are diversifying from traditional farming enterprises, I would say most are not coming from a traditional farming background.”

The course features hands-on training in several key areas, Hochmuth said. UF/IFAS Extension faculty conduct the course in greenhouses, high tunnels and open-shade structures.

Among other information, participants learn the following:

  • The benefits and limitations of different protected agricultural structures.
      • Various production systems.
      • Choices of how to grow without soil.
      • How to exclude insect pests from greenhouses.
      • How to mix hydroponic fertilizers.
      • The key points in managing the most popular greenhouse vegetable and herb crops.

    Hydroponic growing is popular throughout the state, Hochmuth said. In fact, a recent survey found hydroponic operations are in most Florida counties. More are in central and south Florida because of the ability to grow with a less sophisticated structure, he said.

    “Growers can get into this way of farming on small acreage and without large investments in traditional farming equipment — tractors, plows, planters and harvesters, for example,” Hochmuth said. “It is also a way folks can become a farmer and sell fresh locally grown products on small acreage.”

    A few openings remain at a cost of $325. To register, click on: http://bit.ly/2mbQV7V.

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    By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

    The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.