Volume of water? Farming?

hudsonclarkMay 5, 2010

Hello everyone my name is hudson. I'm very interested in hydroponics because I'm an industrial engineer and I'm studying it and doing research to find out some pretty neat stuff. I was just wondering how can I figure out the volume of water, and amount of nutrients to say, grow a single head of lettuce? I don't want to have to check the pH level or feed it. I think it would be interesting to see if I can simple give it x amount of water and y amount of nutrients and come back and have a salad. Does anyone have any information on this? I'm doing some hydroponic gardening right now in my apartment, probably setting up 6 big tubs doing deep water culture. I have air blowers, nice fluorescents with really nice color temperature (sun light)... I'm just looking for some smart people to help me learn the craft. I'd like to eventually develope some alternative farming technologies. I have also experimented with LED lighting and growing plants, and I have a really good understanding of light. Any input or advice would be wonderful. I'm really just looking for guidance here.

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There is an immediate problem with what I am reading here. In order for you to not have to change out your nutrients or "set it and forget it" the plant would have to soak up nutes in an equilibrium throughout its life cycle. What I mean is, the plant would need to use the same nutrients at all stages of growth. Since lettuce doesn't need to be flowered you may be able to accomplish this.
However, most plants use different nutrients at different stages in its growth cycle. This would lead to buildup of unwanted nutrients that the plant will not use and a lack of those which the plant will need, once time progresses. I think that if you could somehow learn exactly what kind of nutrients the plant needs at all stages then you may be able to formulate your own nutrients which average out the plants needs over the whole growth cycle.

This sounds very neat hudson. Wherever the road takes you I hope you fare well.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 1:14PM
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Run to waste would solve a lot of the issues but you`d still have to change the nute formula/EC for different growth stages.
Keeping all the environmental variables the same for every grow could be a challenge. If they change,the water/nute uptake will change too.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 1:27PM
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I was looking and I think I found an interesting article about how to do it from germination1, planting2. Requires little watering and attention. Now to buy a truck load of acrylic plastic and get the saw out :).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 2:15PM
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Hi Hudson,
You could always give it a shot, especially with lettuce as it isn't very demanding on nutrient requirements. Theoretically (and to some extend) practically it can grow with almost any kind of nutrient.

There is a thing though, the Nitrogen uptake of Lettuce is expantional over time: as a seedling it needs very little and from 7 leafs over folding the uptake will increase drastically. Not sure if I posted the graphic of a study here already, but it's pretty amazing.

What you try to achieve is in the same field of what I do: some testing and experimenting that most people will never do as they won't take any risks but keep their crops and plants 100% safe. They would do everything by the book, even rather too much of a good thing than just providing and keeping a strict minimum.

I doubt that it is possible (in a first try it will not be anyway) to set up everything "and come back and have a lettuce". But you may try how close you can get and see "what you have got when you come back". I believe this would require several setups and groups with distinctly different conditions. If you just have one setup and one approach - but with poor results, you can start it all over again, as all the data you have collected so far would be "not possible under conditions A". ;-)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Hi Huson, as much as you want to "leave" and "let" your lettuce plants grow on their own provided that you give them the right supply of nutrients with x amount of water and come back after a period of time to enjoy your lettuce, it is still best to check on them every now and then. This is because there are many factors that contribute to their growth like the pH of your solution, EC, etc. and some of them require regular checking and monitoring. But if you just want to test this setup and see how it works, go ahead and give it a shot. Please keep us posted. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 1:32AM
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Let me add something here:
If you have excellent water quality and adequate nutrients, kind of an optimal and constant temperature plus a decent nutrient stock, - especially lettuce or some leafy vegetables may hold the fort much longer than expected with virtually no control or care.

I've seen some "devices" of some people here in Thailand were they grow good looking veggies without ever changing nutrients, having no idea about pH or anything else. After seeing what actually goes, I've done quite some research with letting plants on their own (just supplying enough water for "minimal life support" to see how long they could hold on. And in fact it's amazing how long they can "survive" without anything but that.

Most people (especially in the beginning) never actually push this to some limit and until you don't try it you'll never know if "less is more". And yet, some conditions like excellent base water and adequate nutrients (I develop and manufacture myself) are the key and may make the difference.

Conclusion: if you have the right setup and good base condition, you may leave your plants for much longer on their own as you would ever expect, perhaps to maturity - without doing much.

While experimenting or testing, nothing prevents you from testing and monitoring whatever and how often you like. Both aren't mutually exclusive as they say ;-)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2010 at 7:24AM
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lucas I was wondering what happened to you. So you went into the woods and decovered " devices" that natives were using "here in Thailand were they grow good looking veggies without ever changing nutrients, having no idea about pH or anything else" Now what does that sound like. It sounds like a snake oil salesman trying to sell you boiled water. What he's talking about here is what I'm doing over there. take a look at any post titled The Dark Garden. See a Native person already came out ( sort a say ) of the jungle to bring you those "secrets" Got a few mintues, go to Photobucket, look under ChristianWarlock ( my Earth given name)spend a few moments in the memories of 30 years and 5 on here doing just that. please, it just a few clicks away. And if your into plants I bet you can't look at just one.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 6:49PM
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You notoriously need attention, you try to divert attention away from others because you want to be the only center of the universe. That's all OK with me, you do what you do best - but for God's sake do it without discrediting me or others and do not polish your Ego on their expense!

Most importantly: leave these subliminal xenophobic messages of yours out of the equation! That is the most pathetic way of getting attention I know of.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2010 at 9:16PM
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