Hydroponics is an ever-evolving method of growing plants without soil. In a hydroponic growing operation, water and nutrients are delivered directly to the plant roots through a medium enriched with nutrient solution. Plants grown by hydroponic methods can be cultivated in less space, are ready for harvest sooner and produce larger crops than those grown by traditional methods. Hydroponic growers may install a small hydroponic garden at home or a giant hydroponic system for commercial crop production.
Hydroponic farming is rapidly developing into one of the most successful agricultural professions. The grower must closely monitor the light, water and nutrient systems utilized in hydroponic growing systems. A grower must be attentive, detail-orientated and adept at measuring and applying growing solution, controlling temperatures in the grow room and maintaining oxygen, CO2 and humidity levels. A background in horticulture, earth sciences, biology or chemistry is helpful.
Hydroponic growing systems allow growers to raise anything from tomatoes to marijuana, quickly and without the use of noxious herbicides, pesticides and toxic chemicals. Consumers are willing to pay a premium price for natural, organically grown products. A CNBC Special Report, Marijuana By The Numbers, states that "if legal, marijuana would be a $40-billion-a-year industry in the U.S. Though not nearly as popular as alcohol or tobacco, marijuana has become part of the nation's social fabric. Some 30 million Americans consume cannabis in the average year. Decriminalized in 11 states and legal for medical purposes in 14, marijuana is no longer considered an enemy of the people in many quarters." The growth potential for hydroponic growers is unlimited. Although there is excellent profit potential in growing tomatoes, medical marijuana cultivation is soon expected to account for the largest segment of hydroponic grown crops.
Education And Training
In a home setting, gardeners willing to study and understand the concepts of hydroponics can efficiently and inexpensively maintain a productive home hydroponic unit. Hydroponic growing equipment, lights and nutrients are available for purchase online or from specialty stores catering to the needs of small-scale growers. Individuals who wish to pursue a career as hydroponic growers can attend universities or community colleges to obtain degrees in horticulture, agricultural management or earth sciences.
Hydroponic growing income can vary substantially depending on a number of mitigating factors, including the type of plant raised, market price fluctuations, the operating costs of the hydroponic system and other conditions that affect crop yield. FFA Agriculture Education reports the average annual income of hydroponic growers as $43,230.
- FFA Agricultural Education: Hydroponics Grower
- Occupational Guide for Hydroponic Growers; September 28, 2001; Dr. Gene A. Giacomelli
- Agricultural Extension Service, The Texas A And M University System; Vegetable Production And Marketing News; January 2000; Frank J. Dainello, Ph.D
- CNBC Special Report; Marijuana By The Numbers