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Efficiency


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Old 02-07-2014, 05:13 AM
benjamin benjamin is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 1
Default Efficiency

Hello,

I would like to grow some herbs (basil, chives etc.) hydroponically and I have few questions in mind, especially with regards to cost/efficiency.

1. what system should I choose for what crop?
2. what system is cheaper to install (I'm planning to run on solar panels)?
3. what system is cheaper to run?
4. what is the growth rate to be expected from the crop?
5. how do i know what pump power to use per system size?
6. I'm not sure whether i should decide the size of my smallest system based on the installation / running costs (are there cost thresholds or can i safely think of a cost per pot hole?)

If the number of pot holes matters for this estimation, let's say i'd start with 100.

I'm trying to calculate the cost / efficiency of an installation and how profitable it is for me to run it. In short: how soon will I have produced enough to pay back for my installation?

Thank you for your help.

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Old 02-14-2014, 04:35 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Lake Havasu AZ.
Posts: 1,855
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Hello benjamin,
First, by the way you stated I assume you are planing to grow these herbs for commercial sale. Is this correct? Second, have you grown any of them before in soil or hydroponics?

Quote:
1. what system should I choose for what crop?
There are a whole lot of variables to consider when choosing what type of system to grow plants in. There is no one best system for any crop, but better ones, and even more specifically how you design the system to cater o your plants needs.

Quote:
2. what system is cheaper to install (I'm planning to run on solar panels)?
Are you planing to hire company to build the systems for you? Even if so, again there are a whole lot of variables to consider about the location you choose to place the system that will make a difference. Not only in cost of materials, but will make a difference in operating and electrical costs, as well as maintenance labor.

Quote:
3. what system is cheaper to run?
Again what you plan to grow and how you construct your system are big factors. But typically the cheapest type system is a wick system. It has no pumps to plug in and doesn't use any electricity at all. But a wick system isn't generally used for anything but small classroom experiments.

I prefer using a drip system for larger plants because it's more economical overall. However for smaller plants I like water culture and flood and drain systems. But again how many plants you plan to grow and your location could change things both economically as well as in practicality.

Quote:
4. what is the growth rate to be expected from the crop?
Every crop is different, and when it comes to herbs typically you just trim off what you need from a living plant, then leave it to grow more. Read the back of the seed package, they usually give you the days from seed to harvest. You can easily speed that time up with hydroponics provided you give your plants the right growing environment to grow in.

Quote:
5. how do i know what pump power to use per system size?
Again it depends on how you built your system, as well as the location it is in, and how many GPH you need it to flow to operate it. The most important number on the pump rating is the "head Height." The head height is how high above the water line the pump can actually pump the water to. GPH is "gallons per hour. If your pump can pump 500 GPH at one foot head height, that wont do you any good if you need to pump it 5 feet above the water line and it can't pump anything that high. Most pumps have a chart on the box that show how many GPM it can pump at what heights. The higher it needs to pump, the more back pressure in the line. The higher the back pressure, the less water it can pump.

Quote:
6. I'm not sure whether i should decide the size of my smallest system based on the installation / running costs (are there cost thresholds or can i safely think of a cost per pot hole?)
There is no magic formula, there are too many variables for every situation and in how you decide to build your systems, the materials you chose, your local costs for those materials etc. to even come close to a magic formula. That is unless you are buying your system/s from a commercial hydroponic system manufacture. They are the ones selling it, so they can give you the cost breakdowns on their products.

Quote:
If the number of pot holes matters for this estimation, let's say i'd start with 100.
100 of what? What type of system are you planning on using? Are you planing to use natural or artificial light? What is the local weather like? Are you going to grow seasonally, or year round? Are you going to grow inside or outside? What nutrients do you plan to use? What growing media do you plan to use? etc. etc. etc. etc. etc... The variables make a big difference.

Quote:
In short: how soon will I have produced enough to pay back for my installation?
The variables make a big difference, not to mention the crop you chose to grow. You can spend $50 to build a system to grow 4 tomato plants year round, on the other hand you could spend $800 to grow the same amount of tomato plants, in the same location and under the same conditions. Guess which one you will make your money back on first. And if you don't eat tomatoes, then I guess you loose both ways unless you sell them to your neighbors. Grow what you use the most of, and spend the most on.

First and foremost, settle on a budget. Second, the space and location, and draw out a footprint of the location. Then decide on the type of produce you use most, and the most expensive ones of those to buy to grow. Once you know what will save you the most at the store, then work out the spacing for those plants in the space you have to grow them. And DON'T OVER CROWD YOUR PLATS. Once you have the basics, you can work out the best way to use the budget you have to work with. And don't forget to include what you'll need to spend on nutrients, pH adjusters etc.. when considering your budget.

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